7 Ways To Instill A Sense Of Ownership In Your Employees

No one wants to go to work feeling like they’re just another inconsequential brick in the wall. Feeling and being in control of your work is integral to job satisfaction and workplace happiness. The more control we feel over our job performance, the more motivated we are to get results.

Research published in the Harvard Business Review has also found that having a sense of ownership at work encourages people to be more helpful. Clearly, instilling a sense of ownership in employees is vital to engagement, collaboration, performance, and organisational commitment.


In other words, if you want employees to feel like they own their work, you need to secure their buy-in not just to their individual and team KPIs, but to organisational success too. Here are eight ways to do just that.

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1. Ensure that everyone’s on the same page

Before anyone can take control of the steering wheel, they need to know which direction to drive in. Make sure that everyone understands and is clear about where the organisation is heading, why it’s heading that way, and how their work contributes to that.

At the same time, helping them understand how their work contributes to the greater society in general grants a substantial amount of intrinsic motivation to them.



2. Treat employees like customers

Your employees should always be your top priority, ahead of even your customers and shareholders. This, according to Sir Richard Branson, is the winning strategy. If you want your people to treat your customers well, you need first to treat them well enough so that they can’t wait to spread their satisfaction to the customers.

The happier and prouder they are to work at the company, the likelier they are to have greater psychological ownership over what they do. That, in turn, can convert into a willingness not just to meet their targets, but to go beyond the call of duty. In the end, everyone wins.



3. Don’t ignore your employees

Giving them greater control of what they do doesn’t nullify your position as a manager and a leader. In fact, it means you need to play a more active role in providing guidance and feedback to them without being overbearing. Pay attention to them as they go along that process, provide support, and give them what they need to get where they need to be.

Frequent check-ins provide a good platform to voice out any obstacles they’re encountering in their work, including any specific tools, or training that they need to perform better.



4. Include them in decision-making processes

People need to know that their opinions and work are valued. According to a 2018 Salesforce report indicated that employees who feel that their feedback is valued and heard in the company are 4.6 times as likely to feel motivated to perform.

Your employees are the people who make the magic happen; leaving them out of decisions that have visible effects on their work is disingenuous and neglectful.


In this regard, Toyota is perhaps the best example of what can happen when you let people have a greater say in decision-making. It implements about nine ideas per employee every year.


5. Allow them to set their own goals

If there’s something you want and need to achieve, setting a SMART goal for it is a no-brainer and a necessity. Doing this gives you a concrete commitment to your aims and helps you better gauge your progress along the way.

Similarly, allowing employees to set their own goals is an excellent way of facilitating self-motivation.

  • Sit down with each employee to help them plan what they want to achieve and how they’re going to do it
  • Ensure that their goals are aligned with the organisation’s
  • If they’re willing to share, include their personal goals as well
  • Help them set “stretch goals” to maximise their learning without overwhelming them


5. Delegate authority

Empowering your employees with authority to solve problems as they see fit doesn’t only go a long way to give them psychological ownership. It also has the benefit of letting your employees know that they’re trusted, which is crucial for better performance. Additionally, it breeds resourcefulness, quick thinking, and better analytical skills.

The Ritz Carlton, for instance, gives each employee up to $2000 to spend on a guest, without approval from their managers.



6. Encourage job crafting

Job crafting refers to the act of “redesigning and reimagining their job designs in personally meaningful ways.” When you choose to play to your strengths at work, for example, you’re job crafting. Likewise, writing regular thank-you notes to your employees is job crafting too. Even though it’s not part of your job description, you see it as a way to make your job more meaningful.


Helping your employees job craft is a win-win situation. According to Yale psychologist Amy Wrezniewski, people who job-craft often report greater psychological ownership, higher resilience, job satisfaction, and engagement.



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