Collective responsibility

Five ways to encourage an owner’s mentality within your employees to drive small-business success.

Business owners across all industries understand the unique and unrivaled sense of devotion towards their venture, and the unwavering drive to ensure its success. A sense of ownership undoubtedly translates to a more engaged and passionate individual, and creating an “ownership mentality” within a team drives phenomenal outcomes if fostered correctly and is built within an organisation’s culture.

The benefits of creating an environment where employees feel personally accountable for the growth and prosperity of their workplace are far-reaching. Encouraging an innovative and committed team helps not only improve business outcomes, but creates a sense of workplace satisfaction for your employees and accelerates their career development. So, here are some of my top tips to help you encourage an ownership mentality to drive business success.

Focus on accountability

One of the values that defines our business principles at MAISON de SABRÉ is extreme ownership. By valuing personal accountability, you are able to foster a solutions-based mentality within your employees, alongside a clear understanding that they are responsible for their own outcomes. By strengthening accountability, you can ensure both successes and downfalls are owned by each individual. Create a sense of confidence in your employees by scheduling weekly or monthly meetings to give you the opportunity to share individual employee successes with the rest of the team, and ensure that all achievements are recognised throughout the business.

“As a small-business owner, there’s no doubt that you have to make a lot of decisions on a daily basis.”

In order to excel, it’s also important to ensure you continue to improve and innovate in all aspects of your business. However, to encourage future innovation, it’s just as important to look at past learnings. Consider encouraging daily reflective thinking by asking three key questions: What am I proud of today? What did I not do so well? How can I learn from this? This reflection exercise works to switch off the “auto-pilot” mode that so many of us can easily fall into, and encourage continued progression by identifying key areas for improvement.

Encourage transparency

Every morning at 8am, each team member runs through the events from the previous day, including any learnings, and we outline projects and goals for the day ahead, discussing how they relate back to the business goals. Providing regular, formal and informal, opportunities to share your vision with your employees encourages them to focus on the long term, and how their individual tasks and objectives play into the wider business goals. This is a great habit to develop as it helps contextualize employees’ personal objectives within the context of the business itself. In other words, it’s easy to tell someone what they are required to do, but if they don’t have a clear understanding of how and why their objectives affect the outcomes of the business they might find it difficult to engage in the task.

In addition to a solid understanding of objectives, it’s also important to have clear measurements for an employee’s individual success in place. When an employee has a coherent understanding of how their success is measured, they often strive to perform better within their role

Get your employees involved in decision making

Just as it’s important to encourage transparency of your business objectives, it’s also important to encourage employee involvement in key decision making. As a small-business owner, there’s no doubt that you have to make a lot of decisions on a daily basis. While you are likely to have a more informed overarching view of your business, you might find that your employees working on the day-to-day running of the business have

a more detailed understanding of some areas. Encouraging employee involvement in key decision-making processes might help you discover some new ideas or perspectives that you would never have thought of yourself, which is important when trying to make the most informed decision to benefit your business.

Involving your employees in key decision-making processes also demonstrates that you trust them and value their opinions. When employees feel valued, and like they are an integral part of the team, they can feel comfortable knowing that their workplace is a safe space to voice their ideas. This results in an increased willingness to contribute and think outside the box to resolve issues, and care more about the overall business’s success.

Teach a person to fish…

No builder can build a house without the right tools, just as no employee can deliver success without the necessary means to do so. In a business, there are often two distinct types of tools; physical devices that employees use to complete a task, and those that accelerate business processes. For instance, providing your employees with the physical tools such as a computer, uniform, or other relevant equipment, ensures they can complete tasks efficiently. On the other hand, there are other tools that help to expedite business processes, such as those which facilitate communication between employees, assist with task management and organisation, and allow access to store shared documents and resources. While these tools might not necessarily relate directly to the task at hand, they’re integral to ensuring your business runs smoothly.

Both physical and business process tools are important to helping employees achieve success within a business, and it’s just as important not to have one without the other. With all the necessary means to complete the task at hand, your employees will be encouraged to work to the best of their ability.

Hold your head high and build a sense of pride

Self-expression and encouraging a sense of self identity are values visible through all aspects of our work at MAISON de SABRÉ, from the products we create to the internal culture we have built. Through ensuring our team are working on projects that they enjoy, encouraging innovation and engagement, and structuring projects around each team members’ key strengths, we are able to align our expectations with theirs, fostering the same sense of pride that we feel as business owners.

To build a sense of pride within your employees, it’s important to communicate how the work of each individual impacts the business as a whole. One way to demonstrate this impact is by sharing metrics that are impacted by a particular project. For instance, if one of our content team members designs an outstanding EDM, we will show them how the statistics compare against other EDMs. This applies to all aspects of the business. Whether it’s writing an Instagram caption, to writing the copy for an ad, measuring and recognising success helps employees feel a sense of pride in their work.

Both Zane [Omar’s brother and fellow co-founder] and I find that providing rewards and recognition, even as small as a personal note when an employee succeeds, goes a long way in developing a sense of pride and connection to the business.

No matter the industry, encouraging a sense of ownership within employees over their actions and decisions can have great benefits for your business in the long run. While it cannot be forced, providing the right work environment and culture can go a long way to generating the desired outcomes.

Omar Sabré, Co-Founder and Creative Director, MAISON de SABRÉ‎

This story first appeared in issue 28 of the Inside Small Business quarterly magazine

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