AN ARTICLE TO EXECUTIVE MANAGEMENT

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BUILDING OWNERSHIP IN THE WORKPLACE
When I think of a “service transaction”, taking a cue from Tom Peters, my mind is not in the same place as when I think of a trip to Disneyland. A whole different thing is conjured up when a Disney experience is under consideration. I think that difference is critical. For me at least, an experience is far more holistic, total, encompassing, emotional, and transforming than a mere service. A service is a transaction. An experience is an event, an adventure – with a beginning, middle and an end. An experience leaves an indelible memory and adds to my history. Please read it again! Powerful, you agree, but the question is, what will it take an organization to turn a service transaction into a memorable experience, what will it take, to get the interests of everyone behind a shared vision, what will it take to build a highly participatory work environment, what will it take, to get people to think like owners. WORKPLACE OWNERSHIP Drawing largely from the writings of Kevin and Jackie Freiberg, owners think differently from non owners because ownership is a state of the mind. It’s about caring, about becoming fully engaged in the active pursuit of organizational objectives. For example, owners are more apt to worry about how their actions are being perceived by their superiors. Owners focus on the business results of their actions, regardless of who’s watching. Non owners maybe more inclined to protect functional areas, pursue self interest, and approach the business from a parochial point of view. Non owners have a greater tendency to live by the rules, even when the rules run contrary to common sense. Owners bend,

stretch, and even break rules that don’t serve the organizations purpose. Owners ask questions like, “If this were my company, what would I do differently? How would I handle that customer? Would I buy that piece of equipment?

Ownership in the form of stock or even profit sharing, practiced by many organizations/companies, can be effective. But even more powerful is an ownership mentality. Research carried out by a group of global talent leaders, including Beverly Kaye and Sharon Jordan-Evans, describe employee engagement as, capturing employees’ mind and hearts at each stage of their work lives. To be fully engaged/ to have an ownership mentality requires emotional involvement, leading to increased productivity, higher customer satisfaction and greater profits. Disengaged employees (those who quit and stay), are the psychological casualties of talent mismanagement employees who leave are the physical casualties. Jack Welch, for CEO of General Electric said, “I think any company that is trying to plan in the new millennium has got to find a way to engage the mind of every single employee” Let’s examine a case in point:

Enter “Southwest Airlines”:
Southwest Airlines is well known for offering low cost, generally short flights across the US, as Traci L. Fenton posits; Southwest has succeeded largely because the airline forgoes the traditional business model by choosing to skip hub-controlled airports, flying one model of airplane –the Boeing 737, offering

ticket less travel, turning planes around in 10-20 minutes; the airline has one of the best safety records in the industry, earning the industry’s Triple crown award for on-time performance, baggage handling and fewest customer complaints for 5 years straight. Southwest, says Fenton, is equally known for its colorful corporate culture and highly participatory work environment. The company’s mission statement is a living, breathing document that provides guidance to every Southwest employee. Let’s now take a closer look at the mission statement: “Southwest Airlines is dedicated to the highest quality of customer service delivered with a sense of warmth, friendliness, individual pride, and Company Spirit. We are committed to provide our employees a stable work environment with equal opportunity for learning and personal growth. Creativity and innovation are encouraged for improving the effectiveness of Southwest Airlines. Above all, Employees will be provided the same concern, respect, and caring attitude within the organization that they are expected to share externally with every Southwest customer.” This mission, like that of so many other companies, sounds powerful, but what makes this one unique is that it is lived by the Southwest Management. The company actually believes that employees – not customers, come first; as the mission says, that employees will be provided the same caring attitude within the organization that they are expected to share externally. Kevin and Jackie Freiberg quoted a piece taken from the Readers Digest in its July 1995 “Personal Glimpses” feature: While Southwest Airlines CEO Herb Kelleher gives customers a terrific deal on an airplane seat, he makes it clear that his employees come first – even if it means dismissing customers. But aren’t customer always right? No they are not, “Kelleher

snaps” And I think that’s one of the biggest betrayals of employees a boss can possibly commit. The customer is sometimes wrong. We don’t carry those sorts of customers. We write to them and say, fly somebody else. Don’t abuse our people. A statement based on the principle of Reciprocity: “That if you create the kind of environment that your people want to work in, they will deliver, if they are ignored, they can undermine and even hurt overall productivity. Employees actually have the power to fire the boss – simply by delivering weak performance and low productivity, as said by the global practice leaders. Then, the belief that, when the systems, structure, policies, procedures, and practices of an organization are designed and lived out so that employees genuinely feel that they come first – trust is the result. Herb Kellerher, former CEO of Southwest said, we can’t tell you how many times we’ve heard employees say, Herb would never ask us to do anything they aren’t willing to do themselves” – They lead by example and affect change from the inside out – they naturally model the behavior they would like to see in others. This I believe we can all learn from Let me know what you think Kay Olufemi-Ayoola has been a practicing Career Development expert and Coach for over 5years; he has inspired thousands to reach personal and professional fulfillment and transform their careers. Using individual and group coaching, conducting hands-on workshops and seminars and consulting with organizations , he coaches his clients to advance up the corporate ladder quickly, and love the job they have or land their dream job. Kay’s active engagement in Human Resources and Career Development began in the mid

1990’s as an undergraduate conducting Personal Achievement Success Seminars (P.A.S.S) and Career Talks, which were aimed at helping students maximize their potentials regardless of prevailing obstacles in their environment. He has extensive work experiences from various Consulting firms and was Head, Human Resources Vigeo Oil & Gas Limited, and Chief Operating Officer, After School Graduate Development Centre before his appointment as Head, Human Resources & Administration, Spring Life Assurance Plc (a subsidiary of Bank PHB). Kay is the founder and Coordinator of Daystar Christian Centre’s Career Development Unit – CareerPlus+ (started in 2004). He is a frequent speaker at seminars conferences and has published well over 60+ articles on Career Development, Personal Branding, Career Change & Transitions and Graduate Employability to

Executive toolkit: Peak Performance Coaches.
date. He is the co-founder & Partner of olufemikay@yahoo.com careerbureau@yahoogroups.com 0803-7207606

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