One of the biggest problems facing employers today is how to get employees to take responsibility for their jobs in a deep and meaningful way. The fact is that you simply cannot take responsibility for everything that happens in your company even though you may ultimately be held accountable for it. It is critical that you maximize employee retention levels and get your workers to take ownership of their own performance.
How do you get employees to take responsibility for their work? The same way you get anyone to take responsibility: by leading by example and providing learning opportunities with real consequences.
Think about your children for a moment. You want them to learn to drive so that they can be independent. However, you would never simply put the keys to a vehicle into their hands and tell them, “Good luck! I’m sure you’ll figure it out.” Instead, you spend the first 16 years of their lives showing them how to drive, then another year sitting beside them while they drive.
You make it clear that as you release more responsibility to them you expect more mature performance. In fact, you tell them that if they do not meet your expectations, there will be punishment! If your child gets a speeding ticket or is involved in a fender-bender, he or she quickly learns the cost of such behavior. Soon, your children are turning into safe and careful drivers who understand the need for good performance behind the wheel.
The path to employee ownership of their jobs is very similar. You must never throw them into the job without some support. Start by showing them or having someone who is already proficient show them what to do. Next, you provide learning opportunities. I allow my management team and certain employee groups to read books that address work-related issues
then take time to meet and discuss what they have read. This allows them to learn from each other. Finally, I release more and more authority and control to employees as they show they can handle these responsibilities.
If you want to increase employee retention and help your workers take ownership of their own jobs, you must be willing to work side-by-side with them and lead by example. You must also be willing to release authority to your employees.