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  • Writer's pictureAya

My direct reports don’t show ownership for their work

“I told my team members about ownership of their work so many times. But still they don’t do what they are supposed to do”

Does it sound familiar?

One of my clients, was saying “I’ve told them they have to have ownership of their works. I have been telling when A happens, they should do B without waiting an instruction from me, if C happens, they should do D and so on. Also, I encourage them to come to see me if they have any question before I ask them. They always say they understand, but they don’t do anything proactively. I don’t understand”.

It’s very understandable that you don’t understand why they don’t do. It must be frustrating. You are giving a good advice for them. You can’t do everything for them and they can’t grow if they don’t learn.

In those situations, I ask my clients “What is their definition of ownership? How do you know your definition is the same as theirs?”

Most of the time, people have desire to perform well. They would like to learn and grow. They would like to show how valuable he/she is in the team (If they have not desire to develop and evolve, then it would be a different topic).

When a teacher teaches students 2+3=5, some of the students instantly understand 2+3 is the same as 3+2. However, no all the students are like that. So as a teacher, you need to change how to communicate student by student.

It is the same for your team members. Some of them will understand instantly when you ask them to show ownership of their work. But not all of them are like that. If you give them a few example, they might see what you are talking about, but they might not be able to figure out for different cases/situations. Also, there are some people who understand what you are talking about, but still need a lot of practice to take actions. It does not mean they are bad or less intelligent. Often, you know they are caring, sensitive, and high in EQ (emotional intelligence). They have different propensities.

Then, what should you do?

There are many things you can do.

First, like I mentioned above, it is very beneficial to make sure the word you use “ownership” for this case is understood by the other party as you think. Sometimes, people have different understanding for the same word. A good example is written in my blog post “Do you speak the same “language””. In the blog, I showed a wonderful example when people use a word “top-down and bottom-up management” with different understanding.

After you share the understanding of the meaning, you can think of how you would like to approach the situation.

Last November, I wrote a blog post “Your Perception”. In there, I explained different perceptions or different points of views.

When a person has level 1 energy/perception, he/she might think he/she is a victim of the situation. Therefore, he/she would feel apathy and do nothing to change it. If he/she was in level 2, he/she might think conflict and feel anger. So he/she could be defiance. However, if he/she noticed his/her responsibility, he/she would have a feeling of forgiveness and try to cooperate with others. When he/she shows level 4 energy/perception, he/she might concern and feel compassion to others. So he/she would be happy to serve others. If he/she was in level 5, his/her thought might be reconciliation and his/her could feel peace. Then he/she perform acceptance to others. If he/she wants to be in level 6, he/she can maintain the thought as synthesis and experience joy. So he/she would show wisdom to others. When he/she reaches to level 7 energy/perception, he/she will be free from judgement and feel absolute passion. So he/she will be a creator.

When you talk to your team member, which energy level/perception would you like to be in? What kind of leader would you like to be? If you could be in the level you’d like to be, what would you tell to your member?

I’d love to hear your experience.

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