Make Your Employees Treat The Business As Their Own
Bosses have often advised employees to think like the owner of the business. However, if you were the employee, why should you? Would acting in the interest of the owner be in fact beneficial to your own position as an employee?
Despite the frequency of the advice, the fact is that majority of both entrepreneurs and employees do not believe thinking like the owner is possible for employees. Everyone knows that the differences are too many and too big. Still, “thinking like an owner” is a great tool to guide employees on the right attitude toward work.
Unfortunately, few stop to think of understanding the working dynamics of “thinking like an owner.” Like all useful tools, there are right and wrong ways of applying the concept. The key here is knowing the obstacles that confront the employee in the workplace. Knowing these, managers can adapt both their methods and expectations to have a more practical application. Check out these basic road blocks that you must clear to make employees more effective in thinking like owners:
Reduce fear of backlash from co-workers. This is probably the most problematic and common hindrance. There are many reasons why this may happen and I can only mention some of them. First is that others may resent anyone getting an unfair advantage by being closer to the boss. Second, a co-worker’s good performance may force them to exert more effort so that they won’t look bad. In the old days of the industrial revolution, managers sometimes intentionally hire people to act as “rate busters” to pressure others to work harder. And third is that some other person may be envious if someone does succeed in getting favourable attention from management.
One way to address this problem is to spread the benefits. If more people or everyone gets a piece of the pie, then there is far less likely to have a problem. However, there are two main problems with this approach. The first is that the incentive is less and this may make it not worth the effort. The second is that some people who are less productive are getting a free ride. This may even encourage some to rely on the efforts of others. Nevertheless, by keeping notice of the effects of these opposing factors, you may be able to set up policies to mitigate their negative consequences.
Give flexibility whenever feasible. If an emergency arises, business owners can usually find the time to address urgent matters since they have the authority. The ability to structure working time is just one aspect of an employee’s situation which differs radically from the owner of the business. In this case, some consideration for important matters could be given to lessen this morale sapping disparity. One way to do this, if the company could afford it, is to have some paid days-off for emergencies. For small companies that find that too prohibitive, a more liberal rule on absences may serve the purpose. However, the most critical aspect that needs flexibility is the authority of employees to make timely decisions without having to go through too much red tape to get approval.
All of us know that a company’s rules and procedures are critical to its operations. They are necessary to maintain order and consistency. But most of the time they are too rigid and do not take into account special situations. There are an infinite number of cases and it would be impossible to make a rule for all of them; in some cases, there are legal rulings that must be complied with. However, in most cases it would be better to give more discretion to employees. Many business owners fear that the lack of control will foster abuse, but this is mostly unfounded. In most companies, the result has been increased productivity.
Consider the employees’ other obligations. To the owner, the time spent nurturing the company brings about enormous benefits, and neglecting it can cause devastating personal loss. This situation makes it more logical for the owner to prioritize the business over almost everything. Since this is not the case with employees, take into account the other situations where they would feel compelled to do other things rather than work for the company. Primary, among these, are family and religious commitments. Try not to force them to choose between work and these important occasions. Also, note that many people find it very important to be with their families during their town fiestas.
Consider their career plans. Many employees do not plan to stay around for long because they feel they have better opportunities elsewhere. Although not all act on their dream of going to greener pastures, there are those that are likely candidates. People who are planning to move on soon are less likely to think like owners. Overqualified people are the ones most likely to look for other work, so you could reduce these types of employees by proper screening.
There are many other possible reasons that make “thinking like an owner” difficult and you should attempt to discover the causes in your particular case. As long as there is no conflict with other considerations, most employees would be able to act more like an owner. After all, most responsible people do not want problems with their boss and they would be more than glad to be doing something that gets their approval.
*Originally published by the Manila Bulletin. C-4, Sunday, September 2, 2012. Written by Ruben Anlacan, Jr. (President, BusinessCoach, Inc.) All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or copied without express written permission of the copyright holders.