Ownership culture

Building employee commitment

James Clark, a young management graduate, with five years experience joined Andrew & Co., a Texas based business consulting firm as a senior consultant. He worked hard to maintain his rank among the “top fifteen” of the company. His exuberance was not limited to his job per se, he always had some brilliant ideas brewing in his mind for boosting business performance. Then came an opportunity that put to test James’ business acumen and sure enough he cracked it. Despite the apprehensions of all the senior managers, James took up the task of setting up a USD 2million business consulting unit. Not only was he successful in doing so, but he also managed to create an alliance with one of the largest business houses.

Similarly, Jess Watson, a project manager in a leading software firm, spent some sleepless nights working on a client’s urgent requirements. The assignment could have been outsourced to experts, but Jess took up the challenge, since he had initially worked out the project modalities. His dedication saw him through and the client was highly impressed with the work.

What motivates performers like James and Jess to go beyond the call of duty and demonstrate commitment to such a great extent?

Undeniably, such performers have an inherent inclination for hard work and commitment. However, that is not all. “Organisational upbringing” too plays a major role. It is the effort that a company’s management puts in developing qualities like leadership and a sense of ownership among employees that determines the commitment level of employees. Organisations that build an “ownership culture” where every employee equally shares failures and success have an effective organisational developmental technology.

The ownership culture facilitates business development by focusing on customers and breeding entrepreneurial spirit among employees. It also emphasises teamwork and empowerment both critical to crystallising business vision.


Experts recommend internal franchise for effectively implementing the ownership culture. Internal franchise is not a contract but an understanding with the employees regarding the company’s culture and vision. Having communicated the basics of the ownership culture and business goals, the management passes the organisation’s operating model to employees.

The fundamental challenges involved thereof include:

Focus on how to do rather than what to do

Providing employees with newer opportunities

Satiating the need of the “knowledge” workers

This apart, the ownership culture is built on a strong foundation of certain beliefs. These include belief in the leader, the objective, the business model, employee empowerment and a commensurate reward system.

With a belief in the organisation’s operating model and a feeling of empowerment, employees develop an “ownership” attitude that offers tremendous value proposition for dealing with varied degrees of business challenges.

Breeding the ownership culture

Corporate culture in an organisation serves as the guiding principle for all actions within the organisation. Organisations that emulate the ownership culture need to follow the underlying principle of: what is good for business is good for the entrepreneur. Hence, when each employee acts like an entrepreneur, the most logical outcome would be enhanced business performance!

Today’s dynamic corporate world reinforces the relevance of ownership culture, where change is the operational mantra. Employees who appreciate the flexibility parameter are quick to change gears as per the requirement. Hence, when the organisation as a whole feels responsible and empowered, customer needs is the primary focus making the business a success. Such a culture also serves as a brand ambassador for the company, attracting the right talent, not for financial benefits but for the intangibles.

This apart, the company’s hiring strategy needs to be altered since the ownership culture calls for a workforce that has an entrepreneurial outlook giving the company a significant competitive advantage.

The culture building mantras!

The ownership culture stands on two pillars –

The pillar of TRUST

Teaching employees the business model

Rewarding employees based on business and individual performance

Unconditional support

Sharing information thereby building a transparent system


COACH representing


Overseeing teamwork

Aligning business objectives

Creating leaders

Higher purpose

Rooting the ownership culture

The ownership culture is characterised by a high degree of accountability and initiative on the part of employees. Besides, the Key Management Indicators (KMI) also show signs of culture rooting. The intersection of KMIs determines the real degree of performance improvement. Having measured the degree of improvement, it is important to map the signs of improvement in line with the KMIs, thus facilitating the identification of initiatives to be taken.

Having established an ownership culture, the management must continuously update employees about the happenings in the organisation, giving them total control and helping them put positive energy in the right direction.

To keep it going

Organisations need to focus on attracting and retaining their entrepreneurial talent. For successfully doing so, companies need to concentrate and leverage the intangible aspects of working in the organisation and devise strategies to remain an employer of choice. What better strategy than practicing the ownership culture!

From India, New Delhi
Vice President - Human Resources
+1 Other

hi all.....can i get any project on " Role of hr in developing corporate citizenship".It is really important.....
From India, Mumbai
Ownership at work is a simple business concept that, however, many employers and employees misinterpret. It is defined as an attitude of excellence, achievement and expertise. Attitude is the different maker in every task that the worker does. Employees with the ownership attitude will do everything to the best of their ability. They are also willing to learn, to become better and do not settle for just getting by. Instead of “just do it”, “just do it right” is their calling card. Doing their best in their jobs, volunteering for difficult assignments, and holding themselves accountable for the success of your business are their standard operating procedures.

Developing an “ownership” culture, your company will benefit a lot.

Benefits of “ownership” culture

What would it be like if each of your workers took full responsibility for their jobs? It would be like as follows:

• You can count on your workers to: perform the job proficiently without having to be reminded or reprimanded; define potential problems, think through solutions and come to you with suggestions; not make excuses; notice their own impact on others’ morale and take action to not just better their own attitude but make their co-workers’ lives easier.

• When you gain trust and confidence in your workers, you will have time to do exactly what you should do – planning, strategizing, thinking, rainmaking, etc.

• Your workers would feel more valued and engaged, leading to fewer turnovers and more loyalty. There would be more opportunities for professional growth.

How to develop “ownership” culture

We may have heard some managers tell an employee that he needed to take ownership of his job. When the confused employee asks how to do that, the answer was, “If you don’t know how to take ownership of your job, you should not be working here.” Fearful of being demoted or fired, the employee said he knew and quickly hid. He then asked other employees, and just got different versions of answers, adding to his uncertainty. That may be a common example in not few companies. The employees have not made a commitment because the corporate culture has not made the same commitment. Rather, many companies have not really stepped up to ownership at work by defining it in writing and communicating what it is. They have failed to cultivate it and clarify the benefits and rewards it brings.

The name Michael Armstrong is probably familiar to many of you. He is an American business executive and former AT&T chairman and CEO. There is one saying of him about accountability you should know, too: “The ancient Romans had a tradition: Whenever one of their engineers constructed an arch, as the capstone was hoisted into place, the engineer assumed accountability for his work in the most profound way possible: He stood under the arch.” How can you get such accountable employees who sure contribute to your business success? Below specifies how manager can step up to job ownership so that their workers will step up and become shining stars:

1. Give workers something to own

2. Clearly establish expectations and define what success looks like

3. Provide constructive feedback

4. Make every job the most important job in your company

5. Encourage genuine input

6. Make it Ok to fail

7. Give frequent public praise

8. Reward or release

9. Create opportunities

For those interested in more details: Ownership at work: How to get your employees' engagement and commitment

From Vietnam, Hanoi

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