HOLYOKE — As a business, your most valuable assets are your employees. When your staff is happy and motivated, they’re more likely to perform at the highest levels. “The best way to create this type of environment is by giving everyone a sense of ownership,” said Margaret Lenihan, senior vice president, Cash Management at PeoplesBank.
In other words, get all your employees to think like entrepreneurs. “If your employees don’t feel they own their own spaces, they will constantly wait for your day-to-day directions and expect you to solve every problem,” Lenihan added.
The ‘owning your own space’ principle is one any business can incorporate, whether it has two or 200 employees. Here are the five steps:
1. Set Project Goals. When beginning projects, ensure your team has a clear set of goals. “Give them leeway in establishing the time frame for those goals,” said Tammy Bordeaux, asistant vice president, regional manager at PeoplesBank. “When they’re able to set the deadline, they’ll feel more accountable for meeting it.”
2. Establish Accurate Metrics. Implement both quantitative and qualitative criteria. “Letting your staff know what metrics you consider the most important allows them to decide what tradeoffs they’re willing to take when making choices on the project,” Lenihan said.
3. Provide Proper Resources. If employees don’t have appropriate resources, they won’t be able to finish the project and may feel like they’re not being given a real chance to succeed. “Especially if there may be budget constraints,” added Bordeaux, “decipher how much those restraints play into the success of the overall project and either adjust your expectations accordingly or decide if the project isn’t realistic.”
4. Monitor; Don’t Suffocate. “Just because you’re not physically hovering over your worker’s desk doesn’t mean that you’re not micromanaging,” Lenihan said.
Micromanagement is a lot subtler in reality, whether it’s taking back authority over previously delegated projects or just having an overly critical eye for details. “Instead, go over the status of a project by having meetings at midway points and making suggestions,” Bordeaux added. “But keep in mind your team should still be free to achieve the revised goals in the way they think is best.”
5. Tolerate Mistakes. If you want your employees to take chances, you need to be forgiving when they make mistakes. “You shouldn’t accept mistakes that are caused by laziness or sloppiness; however, you do need to tolerate a well-intentioned mistake,” said Bordeaux.
If a project does fail, you can then make it a teachable moment by providing feedback on what led to that mistake. “Always start with what went right before you discuss what went wrong,” Lenihan added, “and never humiliate them in front of others, or you’ll witness an intentional decrease in productivity in response to your actions.”
In conclusion, Bordeaux said, “when you’re successful at making your employees feel like they have ownership in the company, they will begin to make choices as if they’re spending their own money. They’ll also be able to adapt quickly in case anything changes along the way. Over time, this type of culture will increase motivation and help you identify star performers, which will ultimately lead to better results.”