Ep #80: How to Drive Ownership in Your Team
Entrepreneurs struggle with employees not taking ownership the same way that they do. Here are some suggestions for ways to handle a situation when someone doesn’t take responsibility for a task, and an example of how an ownership conversation ought to go.
What you’ll find in this episode:
- Why ownership is a personal responsibility.
- How getting out of an employee’s way, in order to foster ownership, is different than abdication.
- What “mis-delegating” means.
- An example of a frustrating ownership conversation and suggestions for what to do instead.
- Essential competencies that I believe every employee should come to the table with.
- What not to do when someone doesn’t take ownership.
Featured on the Show and Other Notes:
- Thinking Fatigue for Female Entrepreneurs | Ep #76
- We’ll be launching a new, live course in September called How to CEO for Entrepreneurs. This group doesn’t have any revenue requirement, and we’re going to have some very preeminent entrepreneur guest speakers live every week. The registration for this first group will be limited, so go here to get on the waitlist.
- Let me know what questions you have or what you think at email@example.com
- Follow me on Instagram and send me a DM.
- I’d be honored, if you find this podcast of value, if you would write a review. Then DM me on Instagram or Facebook or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and let me know it was you. Then we’ll send you my favorite books list!
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Hey, I’m Kris Plachy, host of the Lead Your Team podcast. Running a million dollar business is not easy, and whether you’re just getting started with building your team, or you’ve been at this for a while, I’m going to bring you honest, specific, and clear practices you can use right now today to improve how well you lead your team. Let’s go ahead and get started.
Hey there. Welcome. Welcome. I’m super glad that you’re here. Thank you for tuning in. What an interesting time we’re having. So I am recording this in August, 2020 for those of you who might listen to this next year and just as it should be here in the world that we’re living in this year, the fires have broken out in California and we are very close to many of them and so there is so much smoke. There’s ash all over my car. I just always am so worried for and sad for people whose homes are getting lost and all the animals. Anyway, it’s a rough year y’all. But nonetheless, I kind of am prefacing this recording because the smoke really affects my voice and I want to get this podcast out to you, but I also know I might sound a little weird today, so I just want to apologize.
In other news, things are going really well. I’m absolutely enjoying so much the new clients that I’m working with, in addition to all of my most amazing clients. And I want to thank so many of you for continuing to tune in and learn with me if you’ve been a listener and you haven’t done so yet, I’d love to invite you to write a podcast review. If you write a podcast review and you share it with me so I know it was you, you can DM me on Instagram or Facebook, or you can email email@example.com, we will send you my favorite books list, which are all the books that really are kind of anchors to so much of the learning I’ve done over the course of my career. And so I’d love to send that to you, and I would be very grateful and honored for your podcast review.
So please, if you haven’t, I’d love to invite you to write a couple of words if you’re finding value in the content that I’m sharing with you. We’re coming up here on an exciting time because we are getting ready to roll out the How To CEO live course. Now I use the word course kind of loosely because it’s a course, but it’s also a coaching integration program. And so the way it’s going to work… We have more details. I know I’ve been sort of leading up to this and now I have a lot more I can share with you. It’s a 12 week program complemented with live teaching with me once a week, coaching integration calls each week with both me and Michelle, and it is open to any female entrepreneur at any income level, so no matter where your revenue line is, which for those of you who’ve been listening to me awhile, you know that’s new.
As I have mostly been working with women at seven figures, this program is going to be for everybody who is trying to figure out and negotiate the work around team. Whether you’re just hiring your first couple people or you have 12 people, and you’re not feeling like you’re thriving with it, I’m going to give you all the foundational information that you need to really be able to manage anyone on anything at anytime, anywhere. That’s my goal, is to give you the foundational information for that. One of the other things that we are doing though, that I am so excited about is we’re adding a guest speaker panel. I shouldn’t say panel, we’re going to be having guest speakers also live every week in this program. And I can’t tell you who they are yet, but I’m telling you right now, it’s so amazing. Some really, really great female leading entrepreneurs to learn from.
So in addition to the content and the tools and the coaching, you’re also going to have a live opportunity to have a live interaction with some very preeminent female entrepreneurs. So if this is your jam and you’ve been waiting, this is how it’s going to roll. Now, the way that you want this to work, we’re going to do… I’ve never done this really before. We’re going to have sort of an open registration, which will happen here in a few weeks. It won’t be open for very long, so you’re going to want to get on that wait list, which is at howtoceolive.com. Make sure you’re on the wait list so that you are invited first. You will be invited first to register and get a spot. So I can’t wait, it’s going to be amazing. It’ll change your life. I know that for sure. Okay?
Okay. So let’s talk about the topic at hand. The topic at hand today is ownership and the one thing you can do to really start to instill ownership in the team. So I want to preface this, let’s just sort of set the table here. What I know happens for a lot of us when we first get started, or even for people who’ve been leading and managing for a long time, is we struggle with people not taking ownership, not demonstrating ownership in the way that we do. So first of all, as entrepreneurs, you already kind of have this level of ownership in the way that you work that is not necessarily normal. And I don’t want to say that people who aren’t entrepreneurs don’t behave that way, I just know that it’s an innate sort of tendency of ours because we do take all the responsibility. We do want it to work.
We know we’re the one who has to ultimately make it work. And so we have sort of an uncanny level of ownership. And when it’s yours, of course you have so much more ownership and possession and goal associated with it. And even your own ego and your own self-esteem, everything’s wrapped up in your business which is part of what we work on together. But when you hire employees, they have a different level of commitment to your business and that’s normal. That’s okay. And in fact, I get nervous when people work too much or are too over the board with it, because I don’t want them to fry out. In fact, I just sent a Slack message to a team member last night and said… I’m winking at you because I know you’re going to listen to this. And I said, “Go to sleep.”
She was working really late, and I am so grateful for her effort and her commitment, but I also don’t want her to fry out on me. Stay with me. We got a journey here. It’s a marathon, this is not a sprint. But those are rare unicorns, and I know that. So what do we do? So what’s the one thing you can do to really bake this ownership thing in? So the first thing you have to recognize is that ownership is a personal responsibility, which means that ownership belongs to the person that you want to take it. You want somebody else to demonstrate ownership. It belongs to them. It doesn’t belong to you. You can’t give them ownership. You can’t make them have ownership. It’s theirs. They’re responsible for it. So I want you to really channel that because we can’t stumble.
If you stumble on wanting them to be different, and that’s where you give your attention and focus, you’re just going to keep getting frustrated because at the end of the day, the only thing that’s going to make them accept responsibility and ownership for their performance and work is them. Ownership is really… I think you could put that as a feeling or an action. So those come from their thoughts about their work, not your thoughts about them. All right? But then how do we actually create and foster that? How do we help employees think thoughts that foster ownership? And the best way I’ve found to do that is to get out of their way. Now, that doesn’t mean abdicating, which is what… I feel like we go from micro-managing, which is hovering over everything people do, to abdicating, which is like, “Fine. Just get it done.”
And that’s not good either. As part of something, when I’m going to be teaching in How To CEO, which I’m calling miss delegating, which is this little nuance thing that’s just this missed spot somewhere. So here’s how I like an ownership conversation to go… Well, let me do it this way. Here’s how I think a lot of conversations go that my clients and many of you find yourselves frustrated. “Hey Jenny, I thought you were going to have this done by today.” And Jenny says, “Yeah, I had this happen and this happen, and this happened and this happened and so I just couldn’t get to it, but I know I’ll get to it tomorrow.” And meanwhile, your brain is losing its mind because that’s not the answer you wanted to hear. I just had somebody say to me a couple of weeks ago… We were having an issue with something on my website.
It was going back and forth. I thought she was in charge of it because she was. And when I asked her about a potential solution, she said, “I just don’t know. I just don’t know how. I don’t know. I really don’t know anything about that.” That’s an unacceptable answer to me. So what do we do in those moments? What we do in those moments is everything, because here’s what I know most people do. They go and they fix it themselves. Female entrepreneurs at the end of the day, always have that thought in their brain that says, “Never mind, I’ll take care of it,” because you can, and I know you can. This isn’t about whether or not you can. This is about how do you build the team that can, and the only way we build the team that can is we instill an expectation of ownership.
So when somebody says to you, “Yeah, I just couldn’t get to it. Or I don’t really know.” In that moment, you have to decide. You’re either going to say… You’re either going to tell them exactly what to do, which could cause a problem because now you’re doing the thinking for them. Or you could say, “Never mind, I’ll take care of it or I’ll give it to someone else,” which means they’re off the hook for failing and not demonstrating ownership. Or you could say, “Hmm, all right. What three ideas do you have to ensure it’s done by 4:00 today? Because it has to be done today.”
And you sit, just like I did in silence and you wait. You wait for them to come up with it. They might say, “I don’t know.” Then you say, “Cool. How are you going to find out? What if you did know? Where do you think you could start? Who’s a good person to ask? If you knew you were going to make a million dollars today, if you finished this and you got it right, what idea might you have?” Notice what I’m doing. I’m not taking responsibility for the problem. I’m keeping the ownership with them. It belongs to them. Now, if they can’t solve it or they continue to deflect, justify, blame, get defensive, make excuses, for me, that person doesn’t jam in my business. It just doesn’t work. We don’t have that. We don’t do that here. Look, I know mistakes happen.
I’m way more tolerant of mistakes, I think, than a lot of founders are because I know mistakes. I make mistakes all the time. What I don’t have patience for, and what I don’t think helps this business grow, or my clients, is abdicating responsibility and not accepting ownership, and I’ve believed that since I started managing people. So I’ve always sort of held the space like, “No, I think you could figure this out.” I’m not going to do the lifting for you. I did a podcast a few episodes ago about thinking fatigue. It’s because you’re doing all that work for them. Stop it. But it requires that emotional discomfort of waiting for them to figure it out, and they may not. But if they don’t, now we have a performance issue. Now we’re identifying like, “Oh, this isn’t my person.” Or, “Oh, they need development.”
But a lot of entrepreneurs yell, “We don’t have time for developing people,” so let’s be careful there. I did a live a couple of weeks ago on Instagram about the things that I just always say to my… These are the things you have to demonstrate. I’m not going to teach you how to be responsive. I’m not going to teach you how to demonstrate initiative and take it. I’m not going to teach you how to be a critical thinker. And I’m not going to teach you what follow up looks like and follow through. To me, those are essential competencies you have to come to the table with which, if you think about it, they’re very ownership driven. So I’m really passionate about this because I see all of my clients trip here because you just want the work done.
You just want the client’s issue handled. You just want this… Whatever, you just want it done. And so in your mind, because that’s always been what you do, you just get it done. But then you bypass the employee and you don’t bake in an expectation of ownership. And I do know that it’s painful initially. It’s magic later. It’s worth it. So really, in that moment where an employee doesn’t do what you thought they would do and you’re in your brain like, “I can’t believe it. They’re not taking any ownership, blah, blah, blah.” A, do not say, “I’ll take care of it.” B, do not direct it to someone else. C, stay in the conversation with them and hold them to it. What can you do to solve it? Where can you go to find out what resources are available to you?
What can I provide for you to help you get it done? Give them a deadline. It was supposed to be done yesterday. It’s not done. It has to be done by 1:00 today, 2:00 today. Whatever it is, you make it up for you. How are you going to make that happen, employee? To be very, very specific with it. That’s how we instill ownership. And that’s how we know if they can play with you at that level.
And if they can’t, that’s okay. They’re not bad people, but that’s an essential skill you… Entrepreneurs have to have people like this on their team. We don’t need people who are going to work 47 hours a day, whatever. That to me, is an unacceptable expectation. I think you should expect people to work a full day’s work and then be done with you and your business. They work too much, that’s burden. It’s not okay. I don’t think it’s okay. That shows me that we’re not managing our time well, or we’re over-committing, so be thoughtful about that. So try it, see how it goes. Make sure you get on the How To CEO waitlist, because we’re going to change your life and this stuff, it’s going to get so much easier. Talk to you again soon.
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