Building a Culture of Ownership Thinking to Improve the Workplace
The Ownership Thinking model was developed in the early ‘90s by Brad Hams who was the president of Mrs. Fields Cookies in Mexico at the time, prior to which he held many executive positions in the area of finance and operations.
Hams and his colleagues sought to perfect a way to rid the workplace of employees who have a sense of entitlement to their job and their paycheck — simply because they show up for work. It is Ham’s belief that entitlement can and does lead to the downfall of large and small businesses. Ham touts ownership thinking as a line of attack to combat the conduct of underperforming employees that operate with a sense of entitlement that may be crippling your business.
The goals of an ownership thinking strategy is to teach employees how to think and act like owners to become active participants in the financial performance of the business. The outcome of which can increase your company’s employee retention, productivity and profitability.
Ownership thinking is about getting things right — by hiring the right people, providing them with the right education, using the right measures and incorporating the right incentives…
The Right People: By establishing a consistent and detailed hiring process for your company you can find ideal candidates who fit your business culture. Hiring by trusting your gut alone is not optimal for success; instead hire for skills, personality and character. The best way to reveal your candidate’s character is to ask question that go beyond the resume. Not only is it important to hire the right people, but it is equally important to be willing to let the wrong people go and invest in those who continue to perform.
The Right Education: Consider improving your employees’ financial literacy by providing the education they need to understand income and cash flow statements and balance sheets. Ham stresses the importance of all employees knowing what is going on financially within your organization by sharing enough business information to engage them in looking for chances to increase profits and decrease costs. You will often find your hands-on employees can spot opportunities and identify new ways to earn more profits and cut costs. By teaching ownership thinking you will encourage this kind of behavior.
The Right Measures: Ham recommends organizations to identify and monitor Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), including a one-day workshop for management to develop the KPIs, a scoreboard to track KPIs at the organizational and department levels, and the use of bi-weekly meetings to ensure accountability against the KPIs.
The Right Incentives: To ensure that your incentive programs work for your employees, the incentives must have value to your employees and they must incent the right behaviors. When your employees practice ownership thinking after obtaining the necessary education to achieve their objectives, they will be acting with the belief they are playing a critical role in improving the workplace and improving themselves and are being rewarded for it. Your employees will have learned how to think and act like owners, becoming active participants in improving the financial wellbeing and success of your business.
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