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How to encourage team members to take ownership of goals

By: Grant King - IndustrySearch Writer
19 March, 2015

You can see it. It's there, but it's not quite there. It's happening, but somehow it's only sort of happening. It's getting success, but it's not giving anyone real satisfaction.

I'm talking about staff performance. Chances are your staff are doing their job as per their job description. But what is their job description? Is it like the instructions for assembling a wall unit from IKEA? An emotionless 'Do this, do that, job done, go home, do again tomorrow'? Or is it something more?

Something emotionally empowering on a higher level. Something that gives them a destination to strive for, not just an endless, meaningless journey. Herein lies the key to a higher, more emphatic and satisfying level of staff performance.

Don't employ. Empower.

If any of your staff ever get lost in their role and need their hand held to get them back on the right path, chances are they have a simple problem: they know what they're doing, but they don't know why they're doing it. They are followers of instructions, not pursuers of goals. Empower all your team members into a higher understanding of their role by focussing on outcomes. Give them a clear map of where they're going and what getting there will do for them and the company. If their work has more meaning, they will put more meaning into their work.

Encourage an overflow of ideas

Even the most outrageously stupid idea can be the spark for a great one. So turn every member of your staff into a proactive Think Tank. Encourage them to analyse the way they work from every angle and to always be on the lookout for refinements, be they minor or magnificent. Any employee given the power to orchestrate their own performance will be compelled to take more ownership and think more deeply about what they do. As a manager you also need to be open minded and receptive to such a 'How 'bout this?' culture. Commend bad ideas and applaud good ones. If your staff aren't afraid to share their ideas, no matter how crazy, great ideas will be just around the corner.

Give everyone a posh title

It's amazing what a title can do for morale even if it's only a bit of frivolity. So forget 'Office Junior,' make them 'Superintendent of Internal Affairs'. If you have warehouse packers, call them 'Executive Officers for Stock Containment and Distribution.' And a sales rep isn't a sales rep; they're an 'Ambassador for Field Relations.' Have some fun with it. If it doesn't generate more business, it will sure generate some smiles.

Don't micromanage

Yes, it's your baby, but the whole point of babysitters is so you can go somewhere else. If you've given someone a job to do, let them do it. The fastest way to undermine confidence is to 'help' staff do their job. Even if it's done in good humour you may as well have a neon sign over your head saying 'I don't trust you'. So show you believe in your staff by leaving them be. If you let them own their role, they'll grow a foot in confidence.

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