Cultivating a Company Culture of Ownership Thinking

The concept of “Ownership Thinking” is founded on Brad Hams’ philosophy and methodology of building business wealth by instilling a mindset of ownership among employees. His Ownership Thinking model is the foundation of his business and book – both by the same name – which guide companies to unleash their potential by providing the training and tools to develop “ownership thinkers”. These are employees who think and act like owners and become active participants in their company’s financial success, versus a workforce that simply shows up for a paycheck. His methods have yielded impressive results for his clients for many years.

How an ownership mindset can benefit your business.

Hams saw “ownership thinking” (OT) as the path to a mentality of creating wealth, out of which grows more opportunity for everyone. Elements of the mindset include employee empowerment, ownership training, opportunities for ownership, and employee recognition and incentives. Companies that practice Hams’ OT program have consistently seen increased productivity, profitability, and employee retention by up to 200%.

Hams demonstrated that with employee education and a focus on the right metrics, in an environment of high visibility and accountability, profitability is increased. Greater profitability opens the door to self-fund an incentive plan that aligns with your business and its short and long-term financial objectives, and is tailored to the needs, values, priorities, and roles of your employees.

How can you incorporate the ownership thinking mentality into your own business? Start with your company culture.

What is culture?

Culture is a foundational element of business, yet it is dynamic. It impacts every aspect of your company and should be a priority that gets ongoing attention so that it remains relevant. At its core, culture is a set of values a company identifies and adopts that define the way it does business – both internally and externally. Your culture drives:

  • The mindset of your staff, their level of engagement, job satisfaction, and productivity
  • The perception of your company by your staff which determines how your customers are treated
  • Employee retention and turnover
  • What types of customers are drawn to work with you

Culture is tied to your vision, mission, and strategy. If you don’t define and nurture it, culture will be defined by the circumstances you allow to exist within the business and will have a life of its own – which may run counter to what you need and want. All these factors affect the bottom line.

How to cultivate the business culture you desire. 

Start by identifying at least three to five words that define the overall culture you envision. Consider the core values that you want to be evident in your people, your products/services, and in the way work and communications are carried out. Then consider the culture that currently exists within your company and what characterizes it – your people reflect your culture and how well it’s working.

  • Are your employees engaged or distant?
  • Are they happy?
  • Are they in the right jobs and do they feel that they are given opportunities to contribute, be heard, and grow?
  • Is your turnover rate too high or do staff members want to stay with your company?
  • Does your leadership team function well as a unit and lead effectively?
  • Are communications clear and effective or is there confusion or discord?
  • Customers also reflect your culture; consider whether there are issues with clients. If so, identify what they are and why they are occurring.

Once you’ve assessed your current culture, compare it to the culture you want and identify gaps that need addressing and changes that need to be made to develop the culture you envision.

Integrating Ownership Thinking into your culture.

The Ownership Thinking mindset is based on a conviction that most employees truly want to engage and contribute, that they build self-esteem when they are enabled to achieve and are more fulfilled by their work in an environment that cultivates these opportunities. It advocates transparency, which leads to trust, then engagement – which is necessary for a healthy culture and thriving enterprise.

Incorporate the following four components of the ownership thinking model to make the ownership mentality a part of your culture:

  1. Environment:The practice of Ownership Thinking creates an environment that promotes learning and development, while increasing visibility and accountability, inspiring employees to become engaged and to care.
  2. Education:Employees receive training in the fundamentals of business and finance, equipping them to make financially sound decisions and become active participants in the financial performance of the business.
  3. Metrics:An emphasis is placed on identifying the most critical, leading, Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), tracking quantifiable outcomes, and using them to forecast results on a regular basis.
  4. Incentives:Find ways to motivate, recognize, and reward employees for their contributions. Examples may be financial bonuses, extra time off, gift cards, experiences such as a paid night out with family or a spa day. Choose something that is a fit for your specific business and industry and that is of true value to your employees.

Motivating employees to buy into your culture.

Once you’ve defined your culture, clearly communicate it to your people, including why it is important. Model the culture you desire through your own actions and be sure your leadership team models it as well. Include culture in discussions about other aspects of your business and how it relates. Make the topic of culture a part of your hiring and review process. Recognize and reward the actions of employees that are consistent with your culture. Create an environment of transparency, where mistakes and errors can be acknowledged without fear of negative repercussions, but instead are viewed as opportunities to learn, improve, and change processes so that the same mistakes are not repeated.

Culture is an external expression of what drives your company internally, and ownership thinking can be the path to a mentality of creating wealth and profitability for your company. Keep culture up front to stay true to your course. Contact me to discuss how you can integrate ownership thinking into your culture, to build your business now and incorporate its benefits into your exit plan.

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