Goodbye, Micromanagement! Hello ‘Ownership Culture!’

Today, the old ways of running a workplace are quickly becoming outdated. Organizational governance, annual performance reviews, forced ranking – fail to deliver desired outcomes. Leaders must gain fact-based insights into employees’ evolving needs and learn how to build a workplace of the future. An inevitable trend underway in most companies is a cost-conscious culture, also known as “Ownership Culture.”

Sixty percent of employees believe their managers excessively scrutinize work and constantly check in, according to a State of the American Workplace report. One common explanation is the prevalence of micromanagement. Abound in today’s organizations, micromanagement – when pushed in aggressively – can be quite counterproductive. It may be tempting to deny but the cost of micromanagement is rarely noticed by micromanagers. Most of them believe they are building a work design for maximum productivity without realizing they are rather hurting the company badly. Yes, because managers don’t have time to take up multiple jobs or direct their subordinate on every move. Above all else, the negative effects of micromanagement do not only diminish productivity on a short-term; the effect can be sadly prolonged when employees lose faith in the company.

It is important to be recognized in the company as a manager and to say things to promote productivity at the workplace but definitely not seeing to every detail or forcing your opinion to every minor function. Managers are exposed to more lucrative or high-level jobs which supersedes every other engagement in the company. Foregoing those roles for minor or less viable responsibilities at the desk of subordinates limits every manager’s capacity. It takes away the opportunities for more promising duties, suffocates all measures to deal with stress at work while yielding underperformance.

At many organizations, the toughest challenges lie in transforming management practices that are far from wasteful. With that in mind, we propose ownership culture – the only way to reduce the organization’s wasteful expenses by taking deliberate steps to create a cost-conscious culture deeply rooted in inherent interdependence to create congruence.

The hallmark of a true ownership culture is when employees feel a sense of ownership often found in small, entrepreneurial companies. They see a clear line of sight between their individual performance and the cumulative impact to the bottom line. Ideally, a shared-consciousness becomes an organizational capability, creating a deeply ingrained ownership culture.

Define the kind of ownership culture you want to create.

Educate employees about what shared-consciousness actually means. They should clearly understand that a cost can be “critical” in one context and “wasteful” in another. And employees should be able to different them, even when they are involved in the latter context. This will help them to fervently play along with the organization’s priority and to always focus on those costs that would yield a strong ROI.

Deliver compelling and authentic processes.

Assign teams functions that are viable and nurture an entrepreneurial environment.  Collaborate with the frontline employees in identifying those costs that can be cut or streamlined without compromising client satisfaction or quality of service. Every department in the organization should be engaged in designing and identifying cost-cutting opportunities. This will provide a better assessment of the business process and compel proper evaluation before any process is endorsed.

Access the gap between the culture you have and the culture you want to create.

Find out practices and functions that complicate work. Weed out unnecessary processes that add no value. Develop an implementation strategy that allows your business to identify barriers and accumulate victories.

Creating an ownership culture demands employee motivation through trust, empowerment, and recognition, at least. Constant pressure on employees system of work is not how to build trust in your team. Employees lose self-dedication required to function as a team member if their work is not recognized as reliable. A culture of ownership takes away everything bad about expensive work processes, leaving employees with more dedication for any impact at work. When employees believe the manager would be available to lead and correct every move there’s no ambition to excel at work through dedication.

Redesign the workflow to reflect value and good communication.

Having identified where things are going wrong, the primary task is to weed out deeply rooted costs that are not necessary. No one should expect this to be easy. It’s very important for every organization involving more than two people to develop ways of operation, systems, and policies that would dictate its culture. However, routines or systems are subject to succumb to disruptive strategies, and will eventually become obsolete over time. What do we do when someone begins to ask: why do we do things like this? Is there no smarter way to do it?

A culture of ownership requires employers to be sensitive and assign teams from all units to identify the procedure encumbering the workflow. The team should be challenged to find better ways of getting the work done. Redesigning the workflow will not only engineer swift recovery from a gradual slump in productivity but will save business owners the cost of trying to change employees’ attitude. Non-value-added work and employee attitudes are related closely; fragmented responsibilities and unnecessary activity both dispute an “ownership culture.” Nurture an entrepreneurial environment that will encourage employees to do what is required to get a job done without thinking twice.

Lastly, in the area of communication, employees are at their best if properly informed about a project. But that’s not all required from a business owner. More transparency around costs and a good understanding of business economics will equip employees in making good choices while spending the company’s money. Good ownership culture does not impose restrictive and elaborate spending policies on the employees but provides them with the knowledge they need in making the right choices. Only ignorance could lure one into wasting money.

Hello ‘Ownership Culture!’

Are you considering creating an ownership culture? Of course, it’s a right move. But there are some “don’ts” you’ll want to strictly observe to make the transition a successful one. Culture change can be disastrous if not clinical. You can’t give up after going halfway. In other words, don’t start the process if you don’t have the energy and zeal to pull through. Your next “don’t” is the resistance. Underestimating the resistance you will encounter is what you don’t want to do. We are referring to a change that would deny managers their perks and sometimes power. Expect a good fight before they can give up.

Implementing an ownership culture will be easier if the senior members of all teams are fully in support of the campaign. Hence, you must fully bring them in first. Clearly communicate and consistently demonstrate the culture you want. Understand that the transition will not be immediate; you must be patient as you work hard in creating a better future for all with the right culture.

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Priyansha Mistry
Currently editor at The HR Digest Magazine. She helps HR professionals identify issues with their talent management and employment law. | Priyansha tweets at @PriyanshaMistry

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