How to Get Employees to Think Like Owners

Changing Employee Perspective can Change How They Work

On my client list there are three CEO’s who built their businesses from the ground up. Quite often the fact that they put everything on the line to build a successful business comes up in conversation. It can be a point of frustration for them when employees are acting entitled or ungrateful. They feel like if employees knew what it took to build the business they might be a little more appreciative.

Maybe, but I wouldn’t hold my breath.

Let’s face it, there are things in life that unless we physically and emotionally go through ourselves we can never understand them.

Interestingly enough once you’ve become an entrepreneur it changes your perspective on everything. You start to run everything like a business which can be both a good and bad thing. As I’ve said before it is at the same time the most amazing and stressful thing I have ever done (with moving across the country being a close second).

Still, giving employees a little perspective may be a very good idea. Somehow showing them what it’s like to start, run and grow a successful business could change the way they approach their job, and you, for the better.

So how do you do that? Well of course I have a few ideas.

Make Everyone a Decision Maker

Especially in smaller businesses, every role has to feel that they are crucial to the success of the business. Both the wins and loses the company faces need to be felt on a personal level by everyone. In order for this to happen individuals need to feel like they had a say in the outcome. It’s easy to blame failure on others if the individual had no say in the process. Everyone should be a decision maker about something, even if it is simply the type of toner used in the copier, giving that authority encourages them to think about how each affects the company both positively or negatively.

Tell Your Story

I’ve written about this before. The story of how one started a business is powerful especially if they fought and clawed their way from the pits of despair. We love stories like that. This is the kind of story people will act like they are sick of hearing, but secretly want to hear over and over. The more employees know each painful step the business took to get to where it is, the more likely they are to appreciate the history. Ingraining the history into each employee while expressing how important they are to the future will change their perspective. The trick to this though is to not let up. Employees need to be reminded often of how crucial they are to success.

Ask For Their Advice

I read a story a while back about a women who had just launched her first very successful business at a fairly young age. She was asked if it felt weird to be an entrepreneur at a young age. She said it wasn’t because she had grown up with two parents who both had their own businesses and she can remember sitting over the dinner table and her parents laying out struggles they were having with their business. Even though she and her brother were young, her parents would explain the challenge and then ask for their advice. She explained that because of that, thinking like a business owner is just who she was.

I think the same can be done with employees. When leaders sit down with employees and be as honest as they can be about struggles they are having then ask employees for advice they do a couple of different things. First, it helps employees realize some of the tough challenges growing businesses face. Second, it makes them feel as though the leader trusts and is relying on them to be part of the solution. This is golden for a leader to employee relationship. Of course this has to be handled delicately, but when done properly can be very beneficial for all parties involved.

Hold Them Accountable

If I had to pick one area that small businesses seem to struggle with the most it is in holding employees accountable. So many are extremely generous with what they allow employees to get away with. I call it the “we are so nice” factor. We are so nice we don’t want to fire anyone or have anyone be in trouble. This only works for so long and only fosters a sense of entitlement. Employees have to be held accountable for their actions and decisions. Consistently and thoroughly. Period.

When employees start to think like owners the way they go about handling their position changes. They think more about how each and every thing impacts the business. They are less likely to become entitled or ungrateful. They grow to truly appreciate where the business has come and how they can help it go even farther.

To read the original post on Accacia HR Solutions Blog, please click here

photo credit




The SHRM Blog does not accept solicitation for guest posts.

Add new comment

Please enter the text you see in the image below: