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Every Employee Acting As An Owner: How to Gain Maximum Involvement

Monday, October 1, 2007

Do wish that everyone showed up ten minutes early and remained ten minutes after they had to? Do you dream that phones were answered on the first ring, and employees came up with unsolicited ideas, solutions, and innovations?

The Society for the Advancement of Consulting® (SAC) has canvassed its global membership and found some companies which can do it. The key is for everyone to act as if the resources were theirs, the reputation were theirs, and the customers were theirs: Every employee acting as an owner.

SAC member Bill Corbett president of Corbett Business Consulting in Loveland, Colorado has made the following observations. "The three most effective practices for making every employee feel and act like an owner are: 1) To treat everyone as an equal, making the assumption that he or she wants the best for the department, division, or company, and is a team player; 2) Implement their excellent ideas as quickly as possible; and 3) Always give credit to the employees for their contributions."

"It's surprising how much involvement is more important than money," comments Alan Weiss, Ph.D., CEO of SAC and president of Summit Consulting Group, Inc. in East Greenwich, RI. "The experience of our clients shows that gratification from the work and the ability to make decisions in 'real time' are the strongest motivators."

Gayle Lantz is President of WorkMatters, Inc., an organizational development consulting firm based in Birmingham, Alabama. She notes, "Companies can increase employee ownership by involving employees in strategic discussions whenever possible. Employees will assume more ownership with greater knowledge of the business, and when they have permission and expectation to do so.

"Instead of pushing ideas or directives down from the top, leaders should ask questions of employees about how to solve problems and move the business forward. This requires a cultural shift for many organizations that can reap internal benefits among employees and external benefits with customers."

John Carroll, president of Unlimited Performance, Inc, a consulting and coaching firm in Mount Pleasant, SC, notes three critical ingredients to making every employee feel like an owner. "First, determine your company's critical numbers and tie them to employees' individual choices," Carroll says. "This is important because it helps each person know exactly how he or she has a direct impact on the company's success. Next, build a high level of business literacy by teaching everyone to read the company's profit and loss statement. Most people don't realize that a company can be very profitable and still struggle because it has no cash with which to operate. Finally, help your employees win by creating games and other measurable events tied to financial or quality targets. This provides the confidence that they can make a positive difference and be rewarded when they do."

Carroll further stated that companies who can make a game out of their business help keep the attention of their employees and associates on the measures that matter, no small feat in this age of distractions at every turn. He said companies using this approach have added six figures in direct savings to their bottom line on a single game alone. Carroll added, "Once you have the buy-in and the eyes and ears of the work force, the improvements come fast and furious."

Gary Patterson, president of FiscalDoctor in Boston, MA provided these suggestions. Sometimes making employees feel like an owner can be as simple as helping make them feel included in the management process. He is amazed how few companies proactively share departmental and corporate information with their employees. This can be as simple as a monthly pizza luncheon where the President or General Manager discusses the state of the business, comments on financial results versus budget and takes questions from the group on those items.

Employees, up to department heads, who FEEL they had input into the annual budgeting process instead of basically being given results from the "black box" that they are expected to deliver feel much more empowered.

"This concept applies to other segments of the economy as well," adds Dr. Drumm McNaughton. "Imagine if every teacher and school administrator felt the same 'pride of ownership' about education and their students as they feel about their own children. With that level of personal attention and caring, the challenges in education we currently have in this country would disappear overnight. " Drumm McNaughton, Ph.D. CMC, is president, ofThe Change Leader, Inc., Fallbrook, CA.

Dr. Maynard Brusman, consulting psychologist and executive coach and president of Working Resources in San Francisco, CA advises his organizational leaders to create a workplace culture and climate where all employees are fully engaged. "Socially intelligent leaders accomplish this by developing a strategic talent management program where leaders at every level of the organization are trusted to make decisions aligned with the organizations vision, mission, and values," he explains. Employees model "above the line" behavior and are accountable for contributing to the execution of strategy. Senior leadership recognizes employee's commitment and contributions and they share fairly in the financial rewards.

"The astounding aspect," concludes Weiss, "isn't that this is possible, but that so few organizations trust their employees enough to even attempt it."

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