After exploring our last couple of causes, Data Choke and Promotion of the Unqualified, it is time to round out our discussion with the exploration of an idea that I wish to refer to as “Lack of Ownership.”
Lack of Ownership is a fairly straightforward type of concept, but in our quest to identify how it ties into Reactive Management, we must explore several of its facets. Lets commence by identifying the term and providing some examples.
For starters, what is ownership, in so much as we are referring to in this context? It is simple. It is the actions taken by an individual who values his/her work, responsibility, and takes personal action to ensure its success by any means within his/her power. You see it when you drive by the small business at 4:30 am…and the lights are on. You hear it when the guy in front of you at Staples is doing his best to make his next sell presentation be a knock out, as though feeding his family depended on it. You may have even felt it when you were given your first assignment as an intern, or had just started the job of your dreams. No matter when, or where you have come in contact with Ownership, one universal truth remains; it is dying!
I once was told a story about a factory worker years ago. This actually occurred in Tennessee. This story goes as follows. There was this one factory worker who operated the same machine for 20 years. Keep in mind this facility was a 24/7 operation. Anyway, as the story goes, this employee who was just an operator, actually had his own set of tools, and would rarely let anyone touch His machine, including maintenance, unless it was an absolute necessity. His production rate was so high that when he was on shift, that the machine produced enough material to keep the plant running for the next 24 hours.
Think for a moment about that salesman working for the company who only has 6 employees, they are out there trying to push a new product. They left the comfort of their corporate jobs and their families are living tight, saving money, hoping that this move will pay off. Imagine how hard this guy is working. Imagine if you, and everyone around you tomorrow worked just as hard as this person? What does that look like? Would your entire department’s efficiency increase? Did you answer yes? Does this mean that there is room for improvement in your organization? Do these words make you wonder how to instill ownership into your employees?
Thought it might!
Sadly, there is no way to inject ownership into people who just show up to collect a check, or managers who aspire to climb ladders instead of lead men. However; if you are a manager and you are reading this, you know who your mules are, your go to people that pull it out of the hole every time. They were born with Ownership. The trick for you dear manager is making sure that you don’t rob it from them. The quickest way to do that is to show them that you are just another puppet who is reactive to every challenge that comes across the department’s desk. Good mules can smell fear, and they do not appreciate working for it. They wish to be led to their field so they can do what they do best. Own the plow!