Not Just Responsibility, Ownership

In a recent conversation with Roger Cassell, CEO of Communications Electronics, Inc. he reminded me of a management principle that is heard more and more in discussions among business owners: making sure your colleagues and staff not only have responsibility in their job, but also ownership of their job. They just don’t have a static list of duties and responsibilities; they have a vision for their job and where it is headed within the vision for the whole company. This kind of ownership is intangible. It’s attitude, not equity. It’s driven by results, not by the clock. It’s wanting to get and make things better, not just wanting to get by. It’s stating a problem and offering solutions, not just stating a problem and expecting “the people upstairs” to fix it.

Roger adds more insight to this issue: “Ownership by an employee of their job is certainly critical but we also use “ownership” in relationship to specific responsibilities. In our organization it is typical to have several, even many, people involved with varying responsibilities in a single process. We have started to review all of our areas of responsibility and identified who has “ownership”, 1 person with ultimate responsibility. I’d describe it as adding another level of clarity to the term responsibility…..the ham vs. the egg analogy: the hen is involved, but the pig is committed. Ownership is an absolute term conveying absolute responsibility. Not only does this clarify the role for the employee, it communicates to the whole team who owns each key process or responsibility.”

Over and over, I hear owners and CEOs say “Hire for attitude, train for skill.” So, is an ownership attitude part of the overall attitude of the candidates you hire?