What am I doing to drive revenue? How am I contributing to the core business needs of the company? How am I helping drive the mission of the company?
Wouldn't it be great if everyone in your company asked these questions of themselves and came to you with thoughtful ideas for consideration? Think about how much farther ahead your business would be if everyone participated in thinking like an owner of the business, taking responsibility for the financial and organizational health of the company.
Get started: communicating the purpose, vision, values
If you want your team members to ask reflective business-related questions of themselves and offer legitimate answers, they need to have a deep understanding of the company, from its values to its purpose and vision.
Your purpose gives a reason for why you are in business—your vision details where the company is going. And your values drive the team's behaviors to accomplish the purpose and vision as you intend.
As a business leader, it's your job to have your business sorted out: knowing the key components of who you are, what you're doing, why you're doing it, and how you accomplish it. Communicating this information to the team repeatedly is the key to ensuring they know it, remember it, and start to think about it.
- If they hear the information once, they won't remember it.
- If they hear it occasionally, they'll recognize it.
- If they hear it repeatedly, they'll start to think about it.
- When you bring them into conversations, discuss it with them, and ask for their input, they'll begin bringing ideas to you unsolicited.
Teach your team to "think like an owner."
That's a great idea, but unfortunately, it gets tossed around and should be used differently. I want you to teach your team to think like owners.
- Create professional development plans for each person outlining how their role contributes to the organization's goals. Review them and talk about the goals, roles, and contributions.
- Ask them questions one-on-one and have conversations with the team to drive their thoughts and behaviors toward the company goals. Be open to discussing their ideas and how they fit with the current plans or how they could fit.
- Hold discussion groups around an assigned topic to stimulate the thinking you want to encourage. Share a book or article for everyone to read.
- Share ideas with the whole team that has come from individual contributors to demonstrate that ideas they bring forward have a chance of being implemented.
Create a culture of open communication and collaboration
Consider this a process. Developing a culture of responsibility will take time, so teach first with understanding and patience. Follow up regularly with conversations to reinforce the ideas and increase accountability for the behavior you want to see.
You'll soon find people sharing ideas with you and asking one another, "How is this activity/project/task driving revenue?"
If it's not driving revenue, they should be able to bring the concern to leadership and discuss it without fear of retribution. If you really want your team to think like owners, you must also allow them to behave like owners. There can be no sacred cows in this type of culture.
Celebrate the responsibility and contributions everyone makes to the financial understanding and success of your company. Embrace it, and you'll find a great new contagious behavior among the team!
Photo by lacheev