If the most competitive ingredient that a business has is its people, then it follows that the greatest benefit for a business is to have decisive, confident people who readily take ownership of what they do.

Yet surprisingly, many businesses do not retain good people. The percentage of people that leave corporations is unnecessarily high. To invest in training for the benefit of your competition may be common practice, but surely to retain such talent makes much more sense?

It is, however, a challenge to persuade employees to take ownership and to be accountable. Initiatives are implemented, structures revised, systems put in place and training commenced, but with what result? Employees get excited, but there is not the transformation hoped for. Why?

Though research reveals how well people respond to high expectations, seldom does it influence the common policy of only utilizing low ones.

The regularity of the refrains: "you can’t do that," "are you allowed," "I’ll have to get back to you," "I’ll have to check" or "do you have permission" is indicative of a management culture that expects employees to be just that -- employee-minded.

From Employees to Owners

Business involves expectations. Business growth demands high expectations. As it is the nature of an employee to follow set expectations, and the nature of entrepreneurship to set high expectations others follow, then the task can be nothing short of evolving the former into a corporate entrepreneur.
For an individual to evolve from employee-minded to, let us term, ownership-minded requires overcoming previous conditioning.

OK, but how do you get people to make such a dramatic change in their thinking: to move from a non-ownership employee mentality to a taking-ownership entrepreneurial mentality? After all, won’t they still be employees, not self-employed entrepreneurs?

Simply by changing their perceptions: it is not about being employed or self-employed, it is about responsibility. A company does not employ a person for any other reason than the added value that such a person will bring to a business.

Being an employee or employer, owner or entrepreneur is not the issue. It is about knowing that you are responsible for whatever remuneration comes to you. It is about having a self-employed mentality, knowing that, as far as your own clients and customers perceive, you are the company.

All that has changed is the perception that you no longer think as a hired hand, but with a self-employed mentality -- like an entrepreneur.

It Takes Commitment

Building a good business requires the support of other people -- employees.

There are 3 basic types of employee: those that work with us, those that work for us, those that work against us.

Only the first two types have any value. And this is the key, because the only reason a business should ever take on an employee is to provide value.

Effectively, your people are your internal customers and you want them to buy into you and support you towards realizing your vision.

You cannot build a business without the support of the right people. That is why the hiring process must include two key factors:

  1. Employees think differently than you until you train them as to your way of thinking.
  2. You must train them.

However, you can develop a high level of commitment through getting your new employees involved. And that involvement comes from clarifying the role you expect of them on day one.

Most job-insecurity is derived from non-clarification of the role.

To instigate these rules requires training on your part. Without training and defined expectations, their agenda, which is different from yours, will take precedent. For example, where you are delighted that a customer comes in just before closing, they are hoping to close early so that they can miss the traffic.
The good news is that when you take the time to train your employees, they make the difference to your business…the difference you were hoping for. Unless you continually think about how you can increase the value you bring to your customers and clients, you will lose out. My grey hair and hard-won decades of experience do not count if I do not strive to always improve the value delivered. You therefore have to think value, not time, and think how you increase your personal value through your influence, expertise, status, skill, effectiveness, contacts, reputation and productivity.

The Time for Rewards

A good way is to start rewarding them at the right time for the value they have delivered.

And that is why when employees have given their all during a 12-month period they in turn want to feel valued at a time when making others count really counts -- the Festive Time at the end of the year. Rewarding them at a time when people need to feel valued is an investment.

Today we give tips when we value the service we have already received. The tale goes that prior to the 18th century you would give a tip to the groom at the Highway Inn in advance of the service you wanted. This was to insure performance that your horse would be fed and watered.

Similarly, if we want the best out of employees we must take the opportunity to reward them in advance of the service we expect and at the time when people really want to be valued -- Christmas or the Festive Holiday Season.

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(This article first appeared in White Digital Media. White Digital Media is a leading global digital media source of industry and business news content for C-level executives in a variety of industries and territories worldwide.)