Helping Employees Develop a Sense of Ownership (Part 2)


photo: courtesy of

photo: courtesy of

Ownership is one of those things that’s hard to define, but easy to recognize. A sense of ownership is activated naturally in people when they have a financial or emotional stake in something. When something can be described as “mine,” it triggers feelings of accountability that are not present from a position of “yours.” To this effect, smart organization understand the importance of investing whatever it takes to ensure its human resource displays the level of commitment needed to retain the competitive edge derived from unwavering customer loyalty, sustained business expansion and employee satisfaction.

Organizations have realized that getting employees to do much more can cost much more than is required to remain profitable. Hence, exploring alternative means to achieving this sustained growth in business has resulted in the need to help employees develop the ‘ownership’ mindset.

Continuing from the previous post, this week’s post focuses on how to get employees to demonstrate much more ownership than they presently are. The following are some of the ways in which I believe employees may be engaged to think more like ‘owners’:

1. Providing adequate support for employees. Ensuring resources required to effectively execute tasks are available and easily accessible. There is nothing as uninspiring as a fired-up employee without the necessary tools.

2. Constantly taking the time to ensure employees are aware of the importance of their role to overall success of the business. This may require drawing distinct links between employees’ job functions and specific corporate objectives. Instilling a sense of relevance does go a long way in promoting a sense of ownership. When we feel what we do matters, we tend to put in more effort into making it work.

3. Shared vision: the manager’s involvement in the job often demonstrates the ‘important’ and often, ‘urgent’ nature of tasks. Consequently, to shore up the level of ownership displayed by staff, it is important that managers ‘work’ their ‘talk’.

4. The manager-associate relationship has been termed one of the most crucial relationships in the workplace. Managers must use this opportunity to their advantage by influencing the quality of work as well as the attitude to work of associates. Hence, Managers must seek to become mentors rather than dictators.

5. Provision of timely and constructive feedback communicates commitment to the project as well as the success of the employee. Endearing employees to their organization encourages them to ‘own’ their job roles.

6. Increased responsibility and complexity of tasks does serve as a motivation for some classes of employees. Once these employees are identified,  the tools along with sufficient authority to go along with these responsibilities should be adequately deployed.

7. Naturally, individuals will show more interest when they are actively a part of the project. As much as is possible, every team member should be held accountable for specific tasks and their respective outcomes -as is often said in performance management, what isn’t measured doesn’t get done.

8. Fairness in all respects (in relation to reward sharing, task allocation and other ancillary benefits) improves chances of engagement and an ownership mindset among staff.

9. Ultimately, a large part of all this can be controlled at the recruitment stage by ensuring round pegs are fitted in round holes. By exploring relevant tools which incorporate the skills, interests and disposition of employees, in my opinion,  improves the chances of achieving an ‘ownership mindset’ from the onset.

Ideally, if references were what they used to be, they would have been the perfect and most reliable prediction of future behaviour patterns. In Nigeria, as in most parts of the world, references have become a tool utilized by the friends of applicants to ‘put in a good word’ for the latter.

10. Finally, emphasis must be on HR’ s role in providing an enabling environment for both managers and associates to exercise an ownership mindset is in force. Recognizing and rewarding required behaviour may also prove useful.

Engaging Through Inclusion

by Tolu Adebule and Demola Oke


photo: courtesy of

photo: courtesy of

A lot has been said about effectively engaging employees, as well as the undeniable benefits of doing so.

The employee’s contribution to the organization is paramount. Hence, one of HR’s most important responsibilities lies in ensuring that employees are positioned to give more of themselves, without necessarily increasing costs to the organization.

Valid questions such as -“Why do some work cultures/environments so easily promote high performance teams while others struggle with high turnover rates?” -have inspired according more attention to ‘soft issues’ at the workplace.

Rather than seeking to provide an analogy on how work cultures can be cultivated and developed with a “winning formula”, this post considers the basic things that can work, as garnered from practical experiences, observations and discussions. Specifically, it considers the concept of employee inclusion in a practical sense.

In brief, employee inclusion is an all-encompassing concept which recognizes the organization’s effort at ensuring that each individual within its diverse workforce feels relevant, comfortable and a part of the whole.

It is interesting to note that ample of opportunities often exist at the workplace to engage employees through inclusion.

For instance, everyone values being appreciated; it’s a basic primordial nature of humans. We cherish recognition and ultimately the sense of being a part of the group.

With this in mind, does HR go about including employees as they ought? Or do we perform our daily tasks passively; passing-off such opportunities?

Generally, a more strategic and deliberate approach to tasks increases the chances of improving the outcomes. Consequently, below are 5 useful yet basic tips which serve as pointers for HR professionals on ways to constantly seek to promote employee inclusion within the organization. That is; improving relationships, and ultimately performance/productivity by taking advantage of the most simple (often, daily) opportunities.

Openness in communication (within the organization). This achieves two basic but very important things: (1) It builds trust, and (2) it prevents miscommunication. It helps expel notions that could have otherwise been formed in the absence of a free flow of information. A closed system promotes isolation and uncertainty, and can feed preconceived ideas, reinforce bias and ultimately deplete the possibilities for inclusion and trust.

Making the most of the recruitment, selection, promotion, reward and employee development channels to ensure fairness is accorded to all (irrespective of race, ethnicity, disability, religious preferences and the likes). Employees should trust the processes that affect them, and these processes would be better served when it incorporates some form of feedback mechanism that can promote frank sharing of opinions and suggestions.

Often times we focus efforts on things, to the detriment of ‘people’. Little things like an environment that takes into consideration facilities for the disabled for instance go a long way in truly showing that inclusion isn’t just a policy on paper, but rather a way of life. There should be adequate parking provision for wheel chair users; stairs and passages that are wheelchair friendly or even dietary considerations for special needs employees etc. The little things are often the important things.

Rather than formulating policies which are supportive of single parents; pregnant women; nursing mothers etc because they look good on paper, enforcing same would be a great point to start towards engaging through inclusion. You’d be surprised the effect of family friendly policies on staff.

For new employees, either new to a role, department or organization, orientation and subsequent integration should be as smooth as possible. Make them feel welcome and valued, not just verbally but more importantly,  by ensuring all facilities needed for them to perform are ready on resumption. An unsettled employee is unlikely to feel like part of the whole group.

Another could be substituting “Christmas parties” with “end-of-the year parties”, as this can serve to accommodate employees of diverse beliefs. Also, bonding dinners for teams, especially when major objectives are achieved wouldn’t be such a bad idea either.

The above mentioned are just a few, as the possibilities are seemingly endless.

It’s important though to note that inclusion is not the prerequisite of HR alone. Team Leads, Divisional/Departmental/Branch heads etc have the primary responsibility of driving and achieving inclusion in their separate teams/units. However, HR’s role must be to focus on creating the “culture” where leaders inculcate the principles of inclusion, possibly by measuring/assessing the degree to which this is achieved.

Inclusion is a culture, and it should be promoted as such that is; a way of life for the organization -not just in words on paper or in the air, but with action.

Prepared for an Interview, Walked In on a Circus

I  find the relationship between certain interview practices and the employees’ subsequent performance on the job quite fascinating. I wouldn’t refer to them as being HR practices because they fail by all standards, having not the slightest correlation with performance.

Sometimes I wonder if it’s boredom or plain disrespect for the individual. Perhaps one may conclude that recruitment managers are beginning to learn some vital lessons from circus shows and find themselves at odds in an attempt to apply same to a more professional sphere.

Or how else would one explain subjecting candidates to dancing their way to being shortlisted. Remember, this isn’t the ‘Nigerian’s Got Talent Show’ It’s an actual interview day. What purpose do employers hope to achieve with such unprofessional techniques?

Likewise, what would you make of a panel of interviewers who hurl insults at interviewees by virtue of their positions. The fact is, this will in no way predict one’s ability to work under pressure. The only thing it ever does is humiliate the interviewee and project a poor image of the company to the public.

There’s a line up of similar tales, the list of which is ridiculously endless. I bet you have a couple of yours to tell as well.

Doing the right things in the right way do come with benefits. Certain tools have been deemed effective for identifying specific skills that better predict the probability of on-the-job success. Notable HR systems are equally capable of revealing details about the individual’s behaviour. The Predictive Index, Belbin as well as several versions of the Talent Management Tool-kit  are just a few. These tools and much more can be made available to recruitment managers at the very click of a button. What’s missing is some effort. Some additional training would be nice as well.

Point is clear, if you must spend on R&S, make it count! Your focus shouldn’t be to employ anyone flexible enough to dance to your tune (because, the truth is: most would dance if their lives depended on it). Rather than hosting a circus, sessions aimed at identifying candidates of initiative who are smart minded and performance-driven should be the prime focus.

A Note to HR
I believe…

  • There is the need to ensure that the employee resourcing tools employed by firms are those suitable for the parameters/attributes to be measured/assessed.
  • At all times, the validity and reliability of the selection methods chosen should be verified.
  • Finally, thorough analysis and evaluation of the responses/results generated by trained HR professionals matched with organizational policies that encourage fairness, respect for the individual and professionalism will in the long-term perhaps diminish the negative stereotypes surrounding the practice of HR in Nigeria.

Recruitment and Selection (R&S): A Unique Opportunity

Recruitment & Selection

photo: courtesy of

Ever attended one of those assessment centres where you were made to feel comfortable and at ease? Treated with the utmost respect and catered to in such a way that you almost forgot where you were or the purpose for your attendance? Kudos to those firms who go to the lengths of reimbursing participants’ transportation and accommodation bills.

Compare the preceding to a poorly organized test/interview session where candidates are packed into a poorly ventilated space; instructions thrust like reprimands and facilitators easily mistaken for boot-camp instructors. It gets worse! There have been instances where there was absolutely no respect for the candidates’ personal time and sessions began hours later than they had previously been scheduled to commence.

One thing is clear; the little things do matter. People are generally reactive and would usually respond in accordance to how they are being treated. This is why I believe organizations can and should take advantage of the opportunities the ‘Recruitment and Selection’ (R&S) process provides. It could be used as a powerful, yet subtle tool to improve an organization’s brand perception or public image. Likewise, it serves as a platform to ensure successful candidates are those who value their employer, are proud to be associated with the brand and ultimately, ready to stay the long haul.

Countless research findings have established a link between an effective R&S strategy and an organization’s  overall performance. Nevertheless, while there may exist a relationship between a firm’s R&S strategy and the employees’ subsequent satisfaction, it should be noted that individual differences, interests and ‘motivation’ all play an equally important role irrespective of the R&S strategy applied.

Without a doubt, a well thought out and executed candidate-centred R&S session holds great potential. The benefit to the organization far outweighs the costs of not engaging in same and could very well assist organizations achieve a spot reserved for a few – the employer of first choice!

Implication for HR:

For firms that would rather outsource the R&S function: it behoves the HR department to ensure a ‘values’ match.  Vendors must be educated about the impact of service quality on the company’s brand and ultimately, its bottom line.

Alternatively, when R&S is conducted in-house, staff are to be encouraged to deliberately portray behaviours that are in accordance with the company’s core values as well as any existing stakeholder retention policies.

The candidate’s experience does matter. The benefit (to the firm) may be viewed in terms of:

  • The Brand: R&S provides a cheaper alternative of promoting a company’s image. Savings in advertising costs are inevitable when a room filled with candidates help to spread the word about an exceptional experience.
  • The Quality of staff: R&S conducted with a candidate-centred approach may in the short-term endear the candidate to the organization and in the long-term go a long way in ensuring employees ‘feel’ engaged to the firm.

In conclusion, some benefit is always better than none. However, the extent to which a candidate-centred R&S strategy is employed depends largely on how much a firm values its brand outlook.