During the CUE spring 2017 conference, Greg Hawks delivered a highly entertaining and enlightening keynote session on how we can unlock an ownership culture at our companies. We got so much good information, that we’ve divided his presentation into three parts. In the first article, we explored what an ownership culture means, and how accountability comes into play. In the second article in the series, we learned how owners increase value and assume responsibility.
Greg has two jobs. By day, he works as a Corporate Culture Specialist, where he mentors leaders, develops teams, crafts culture, and empowers employees. After hours, he’s a real estate investor who manages rental properties. His real estate strategy is simple: buy nice houses, and put nice people in them. Along the way, he’s learned a few key traits about having an owner’s mentality.
Owners tend to be inclusive, and readily welcome you into their homes. On the other hand, Greg learned that renters tend to be exclusive. Greg likes to check on his properties, and although he has excellent relationships with his tenants, they often hold the door ajar and say, “Oh, it’s you again.” In other words, they don’t exactly roll out the welcome mat for him.
In our last article, we learned that Greg had a renter who was reluctant to tell him about her broken oven and stove. Remember, Greg’s real estate strategy is to buy nice houses and put nice people in them. So, he immediately wanted to make things right and asked the renter to pick out the stove.
Greg knows that the tenant is going to have to live with the new stove, so he wanted to involve her in the buying process. The same thing happens at work all the time. We make decisions that impact others, without involving them or getting their buy-in. We see this all the time with conversations that are about “corporate vs. field” or “sales vs. operations”. It’s a mindset that makes us want to huddle up, hunker down, and keep them out because “they don’t have our best interest in mind.”
It’s hard to figure out a renter’s mindset, just like it’s hard to figure out an employee’s perspective. Sometimes we think we’re treating people well, but we often get blamed by our employees for things that are beyond our control. This can begin a vicious cycle at work. We stop involving our employees in our decisions, and they quickly transform from owners into vandals. We start using words that start separating people into factions.
Every company has a subculture that feeds into this behavior. It even happens when we think we have good intentions. For example, every organization has unwritten rules and standards. Let’s say that you’re trying to warn a colleague about another team member’s personality quirk. The minute you say, “Don’t worry about Joe, he’s just like that. I’m trying to help you out” you’ve painted someone negatively and created division.
Unfortunately, smart people do dumb things all the time and commit acts of vandalism. Vandalism happens when you talk about personal situations that skew other’s perspectives about that person. Instead of talking about personal situations, talk about capacities. If you’re working on a project, involve and include as many stakeholders as possible. It’s the way owners practice inclusion even when they feel resistance from others.
If you’ve ever rented a room in a house, you probably thought that your room was the most important room there. As an owner, the value of the house is the entire property. You like the laundry room as much as the kitchen. You know that rooms don’t have any value without the context of the entire house.
In the workplace, we often create silos at the highest level of our organizations. This creates divisions throughout the company. It’s hard for us to see our department, or “room” as part of the whole. It’s typically very hard for high-level leaders to shift from being an advocate for their area to an advocate for the entire organization.
You don’t create value for your organization by being a champion for your area. Stop standing up for your department. Stand up for the “whole house” first, and then serve your department or division. You’ll add value to your own contributions, and also create value in the people around you.
Greg Hawks is a Corporate Culture Specialist who brings an expansive leadership portfolio to your service. For two decades he has mentored leaders, developed teams, crafted culture, and empowered employees. His approachable personality and vibrant demeanor are useful attributes for attacking mediocrity. He is not a motivator, he is an instigator. His playful attitude cloaks a directness that pinpoints root issues. Through Hawks Agency, he has originated the Like An Owner® platform. Compelled by the belief that individuals who Think, Act, Lead, and Create Like An Owner® will be more fulfilled and productive. Also, organizations who commit to implement an Ownership Culture will find loyalty and rapid growth, regularly.
Guest blogger Liz D’Aloia founded HR Virtuoso to help companies optimize their employment application processes. HR Virtuoso creates customized, company-branded short form employment applications that work on any mobile device. This allows companies to get far more applications, and also keep their existing applicant tracking system. Prior to launching HR Virtuoso, Liz rose through the ranks of transportation, retail, and mortgage companies as a Senior Employment Attorney and VP of HR. Liz is a nationally recognized blogger, speaker, and HR practitioner. Please contact her directly at firstname.lastname@example.org with blog ideas, speaking engagements, and consulting requests. Follow us @hrvirtuoso.