Friday, 11 December 2009

Ownership - The Beauty spot

Nobody washes Rented cars - So how do you expect employees to own things they dont think they own?

Your Team members are owners of what they do? Do they call themselves owners? do they own what they do? Is there enough ownership in your Team? You know where I am getting at with these questions don't you?...

Ownership is that action which comes from you and your team when you give an all out effort and commitment to what can lead you succeed. Ownership... Yes, the beauty spot of the Team... its that dimple on the rosy cheeks of success that every Manager wants to see. So do you see the scar of not having ownership within your Team? Or do you face problems getting Team own something? Or commit to Ownership? Yes? My dear friend you have a problem in Management then.

Managers who fail to generate a feeling of Ownership in the Team, fail to succeed in building great teams. The feeling of Ownership cannot be forced on the Teams and Managers who think they can do that eventually lead the Teams to fail. Yes, this beauty spot is not something that can be enforced on employees or Team members.. If you want to have your Teams possessing at-most levels of Ownership, then you need to go dig some ground and build the foundation of it... this foundation is made up of certain crucial elements that help Ownership feelings takeover the minds and brains of your Teams and Employees. So what are these elements that let you bring Ownership in your Team?

1. Fun

A lot of organizations lack this element, which is a prime element in building the foundation. If you come to work and sit around 50 frown faces, that dont even smile at each other.. you are going to miss something very important. And you are going to miss it badly even if you are doing good. This is a element driven by culture, so if you can bring fun in your workspace , in your team, in your behaviors.. you are going to let the Team members enjoy what they do.... and did Adam and Eve tell us that they did what they enjoyed the most????

Add fun to your teams :

1. Have casual times in the work hours so that the Team can crack jokes, feel the humour, enjoy, relax...
2. Dont leave any opportunity to discuss topics that are on and off works with the Teams.. let a crowd be involved in such discussions so they realize they are learning something....
3. Have team building events
4. Small Stress Busting games once a month

How does this help????? Well if they enjoy where they are, they would enjoy what they do....

2. Challenge

A lot of times our jobs get boring... routines you know what I mean? Build this element into your culture that you get challenged and you challenge... I honestly mean that ask Why??? this can help the Team develop a spirit to handle anything that comes to them.. questions , issues , problems and solutions. If a developer says that he is scared of something, throw him a challenge covering some risks. A few months ago YN (Yogesh Nimbalkar) one of our prominent developers told me that he was not so sure about UI development... we threw him a task to build a slide show , he came back with a cool charts functionality. If your culture promotes challenges, you are sure you would have the Team members looking forward for more coming there way.

3. Connection

You come to office at 8
You drink COffeee
You work on your desk
You have lunch at 12
You drink coffeee at 3
You leave office at 5

Is that all you are meant to do? Do you know if your colleague sitting beside you is wearing a new shirt today? Or why your product had a downtime yesterday? Or why your boss is looking sad today? Or why your pair was off yesterday? Or where he is going for the weekend party? Well connection is needed to get this feeling of ownership. If you are not connected to the people you work with, your product , your work , your machine how would you show ownership? A strong connection has to be built, your culture has to let it build so that people can remain connected and improve the connection with everything they do.

4. Love

If love can get a blind man see the world through imaginary eyes, love can also create a feeling of very strong ownership. If you love something you would care about it, you would fight for it. Yes let your culture promote love... for the Product you work on, for the workplace , for the desks they sit on, for the people they work with, for the job they do, for what and how they do it..

1. Max is a terrific developer, he loves technology. Thus he builds great stuff.
2. Max is an amazing person, but he hates programming. Can he make a great developer?

Let your Teams love everything that is linked to your work. Managers, Collegues, Work, Product , Technology. If they love it, they will like it too ;)

5. Collaboration

Improve on collaboration. Dan today told me that he is amazed the way we communicate and collaborate in our Teams.. Collaboration leads to inspiration... people with different mindsets coming together and trying to achieve common goals ends up inspiring and motivating each other. Today we are a global company with teams spread out in France , UK , Germany , US , Wales , Pune , Chennai...just for what we do... even if there were a few more locations and more developers every where we would have being communicating and collaborating more and effectively?

Let locations, people , Teams and team members collaborate.. create an opportunity for them to collaborate.. for instance a travel together for 2 people who speak limited with each other. Or an off topic task where these 2 people have to speak to each other. Easy way on a picnic ask these guys to pick each other up? Do come car pooling? Well all are mechanisms of collaborating.. try em out.

6. Choice

Zaheer a long time ago collegue of mine always wanted to be a Programmer.. he hated what he did.. which was inventory Management and web design. For a long time (3 months) he kept on doing the same with a lot of hatred... Yes he did not love what he did... We then chose to tweak what he did.... we gave him a choice of doing the Web Design with some programming to ease up his job.. which would mean writing automated scripts to handle inventory management at the same time do the web designing. He happened to deliver both ahead of time and quality. Sometimes its about choice, understand the choices of your teams when you speak to them, if they are asked to do what they prefer to do... they would own what they would be doing.

7. Goal and Results

Isnt it important to let the Teams know on what is expected after all? Well if they know the Goal and the outcomes of what they are doing.. they would definitely like it. If you tell your Team that you plan to build a web that will rule the future of internet like Gooogle is doing... do you think people will not want to own what you want them to do? or what they are doing?
Some scared mouses may run away, but anyways do you need people who are not committed to organizational goals?

8. Opportunity

Give opportunity every single time you can... Make the Max do the trickiest elements of development, Let Max handle strong modules independently, Let the Max decide what technology to use for the product development. Given an opportunity creates a feeling of rhythms and growth and employees and Team members like the fact very much... they thus commit themselves to what they do.

If your best developer is always developing, he may unlike what he is doing after a while. But if your best developer is doing different things in different ways every time he would take it as an opportunity. Let them travel whenever you got a chance... they would have a feeling of reflective investment and thus they would want to contribute more than what they could have.

9. Failures

Let them taste failures and stand by them when they fail. Though the objective here is to not let anyone fail.. but in professional lives it is important to fail. Its failure that teaches them on how best to do things next time.. you can be there to help them fail on smaller things so they can succeed on larger things.

Max started to build a feature , he failed miserably doing so. His Manager stood by him and they worked out the best way to make it work in future. Result Max built the same thing with enhanced capabilities.... 2 reasons that contributed that....

1. Feel of failure invokes lust for success.
2. Backup in bad times gives more confidence..

So.. do you think you do any or all of these? If not think of ways to get these elements imbibed in your culture... if you are building a product for future with a Team that will define this future... this investment is necessary... atmost necessary.

Lets Own what we do! What our Teams do !!!