What is Employee Ownership Mentality?

Feb 21, 2018

I wanted to share some thoughts about the differences between having a workplace culture with an accountability mentality vs. a workplace culture with employee ownership mentality.

I advocate for small business owners the importance of setting up a workplace culture centered on an employee ownership mentality. To put into perspective what I mean by ownership mentality, I compare and contrast accountability and ownership.

Accountability vs. Ownership

I want to get one point across before going into this topic – this is not a bash on accountability. Accountability is vital to timely operations, but it is just a single part of a higher level of actualization. Managers that hold their employees accountable for their work accomplish this through actions, and that task is usually all that is ever accomplished. In a nutshell, I describe accountability as:

Manager: “Please complete “X” by Friday”
Employee: “OK”
The manager receives the completed “X” by Friday.

Some other actions that describe an accountability culture are sticking to role definition, measurement & evaluation, recognition & consequences. For a manager to have to hold their employees accountable for their work should be seen as an age-old leadership task. We want to move past that into a world of ownership.

Easier said than done.

What does Employee Ownership Mentality Look Like?

When a business advocates a “culture of ownership”, employees transcend past the typical “employee-employer” relationship and put in maximum effort, not because they are asked to, but because they want to.

Employees have a higher level of connection to the business and the industry in which it resides, and strive to perform optimally not only in the business but in the industry itself.

The employees have made a personal commitment, have an internal DESIRE, to perform with the business. Ownership in a nutshell is:

Manager: Can we hit “X” by Friday?
Employee: “Yes; but I think if we put together a team we should be able to exceed “X” by Friday. “
Manager: “Great! Let me know whom you think would work best and we’ll get this done. “

An environment of employee ownership offers challenges, not tasks; allows for connection across all roles and opportunities for anyone who wants it.

Employees have the autonomy to do it how they think it can best get done, and collaborate to achieve the goals that they set for themselves.

Sounds great, right?

Well, as you might be able to tell, a workplace culture with employee ownership is much harder to implement and sustain – especially if your business has many employees.

This is why I advocate small business owners to start thinking about how they can have a workplace environment full of employees with an ownership mentality earlier than later.

The mindset of any employee is a direct correlation with how they are managed by their direct leader. Company culture is built from the ground up and sustained from the top-down.

It takes time, commitment, and the right people in order to create an environment of which an ownership mentality can be created. Managers cannot force a culture with an employee ownership mentality.

However, by taking the right steps, instilling knowledge and ability, a leader can create an environment in which employees operate that allows for an ownership mentality to acclimate within itself!