During the industrial revolution, company owners wanted to break down work and production into the smallest and simplest task possible so workers could easily be trained to do one job and one job only. The less brainpower and employee had to use, the better.
These days, just about the opposite is true. Employers are seeking out employees who show signs of leadership, aptitude, and ownership of their jobs. If you’ve never worked in a role that encouraged you to take ownership, it can feel like a scary amount of responsibility. We’re here to tell you that taking ownership in your role can be fun and exciting and will only help to further your career. Not sure how to get started? Read our tips below for the best ways to show ownership at your job.
Think like a freelancer
Think about it: Why do businesses seek out freelancers? Oftentimes it’s to take care of a problem in the most direct way by hiring someone who is an expert at what they do. Businesses trust that a freelancer will see their job through from start to finish and will ensure a quality result at the end. If the freelancer runs into a roadblock along the way, they take the time to figure out how to get around it. They realize that their reputation (and their paycheck) depends on them doing the best they can do. When interviewing for their contracted work, they do their research on the project before their conversation with an employer and come prepared with clearly outlined solutions and next steps. In order to be the best in their field, they constantly seek to learn in order to stay competitive and on top of new trends. Employees can sometimes default to a mindset of “Tell me what to do and I’ll do it” whereas freelancers tend to think like doctors. They assess a situation, look for symptoms and causes, and then prescribe a solution. Doctors say, “This is how I can help you.”
Never stop learning
A company’s ownership and management love to see employees that are helping a company grow. But how can an employee help the company grow unless they, themselves, are growing?
More and more, companies are starting to strive for cultures that are innovative, competitive, and constantly moving forward. HBR has said, “As academic reviews have pointed out, people’s employability – their ability to gain and maintain a desired job – no longer depends on what they already know, but on what they are likely to learn. In other words, higher career security is a function of employability, and that in turn depends on learnability.”
This is why it’s so crucial for employees to make learning a part of their regular routine. Self-development shouldn’t just be a once-a-year occasion for any employee, but rather an ongoing habit that is worked into a weekly or even daily routine. This study shows that having a career development conversation with your supervisor more than once a year can lead to much higher levels of employee engagement at work. And with all the information available on the interweb, there is literally always something for an employee to be learning. New blogs, e-courses, podcasts, YouTube videos, and other content sources are published every single day. If you want to be a leader within your role and department, constant learning is a must.
Be in constant communication with your team
No matter how big or small your company or department, being in constant communication with your team and your company as a whole is crucial. While going rogue might feel faster and more independant, initiating communication with your team will not only show leadership, but allow you and your team to work more seamlessly and efficiently as a whole. Communication and collaboration will also help you and your team to figure out your individual strengths which can help you delegate the right task to the right person and ultimately perform better as an overall team. Not to mention that what people are good at usually coincides with what people like doing. According to Businessnewsdaily.com, “One of the biggest issues workers have with their employers is communication, specifically one-way communication. While it’s great to establish rules and expectations for your employees, it’s just as critical to be open to their ideas or concerns.” So learning what those on your team like doing and are good at doing could potentially make them happier in the workplace and, consequently, more efficient. In fact, this 700 person study found that happy employees have shown to be up to 20% more efficient and productive in the workplace than unhappy ones. The takeaway? Communication and collaboration make employees happy and happy employees work better. Want to be a leader within your role/department? Communicate.
Evaluate and adapt
Remember that iPod you had in middle school that you just thought was the coolest? Now it would probably be labeled with the tag “Vintage” on eBay. Don’t be that iPod. In order to be one who takes ownership of his or her role, you need to constantly be evaluating your systems. Sure, when you first came on to the company, you were probably trained and taught to do things a certain way, but that doesn’t mean those systems and processes should never be evaluated and adapted. Sure, things might be the way they are for a reason and that’s totally ok. Just maybe be ok with asking if there actually is a reason for why things are done the way they’re done. For example, maybe your team uses a certain software that only tracks some metrics and not others. You think to yourself, “It could probably be useful if we were tracking these other metrics, too. But this is the software we’ve always used and my management team probably already knows this and is probably too busy to look into switching over to a better software.” Wrong! Ok, maybe they do, but there’s no harm in asking!
Which bring us to our next point:
Freedom vs. permission
While some may lack the motivation to take ownership of their role, others might totally want to try new things or go in a new direction, but are worried about overstepping their bounds. They may be unsure if what they want to do is “allowed” or of change is even a welcome subject, so they refrain and do their job as they were taught to do. When you first come into a new role (or even during your job interview), it’s a great idea to get a bearing on how much freedom you have within your role (or, in other words, how long your leash is). Will your department operate on a system of forgiveness (meaning, are you allowed to try new things until a mess up and then re-evaluate with your coworkers? Or do you need to seek permission before taking action?).
Our advice if there’s something new you’ve been dying to try at your job that you think might really make a difference (but you’re worried there’ll be pushback)? Do your best to state your case!
Here are a couple tips for pitching your idea to your team or management:
How can you present your great idea to your team effectively?
First, you have to do your research. Harvard Business Review gives some great advice when preparing a presentation to your management team. First, you’re going to want to build relationships with the people who matter. You know, the decision makers. Not only can you hear their initial concerns about your idea, but they can also potentially help you expand on your idea or bring up issues that you may not have thought of. Once you’ve done that, prepare for possible concerns and questions that will be raised during your pitch. This will allow you to make your pitch in confident and not be thrown for a loop during your presentation. When making your pitch, remember to keep it realistic yet positive and simple and to the point.
Have you ever been commended for taking ownership of your role? What are ways you strive to learn and adapt to changing industries? Share your thoughts in the comments below and share this post with the friend who shared that last Facebook article with you.