Monday, August 6, 2012

What Ownership means for an Employee?

If you are an employee working in an organisation with multi layered management structure, I am pretty sure that you must have heard the term "Take ownership" whenever a work is given to you or mostly when something goes wrong!
As one grows with experience in an organisation, one finds out a way to beat this question. How? Well its simple, ask the same question to your subordinate ;-). Actually productive employees at senior level do not care about such stuffs, as they know what they are doing and they know very well that as long as they focus on their work alone, nothing is going to stop them from success. But what about a new guy, who has newly joined an organisation? What about guys with less experience at their job and even less experience in people management? The answer that they have is, "Why should i take responsibility? it's your company not mine" and this is where the blame game or the passing of the buck starts.
I hope this article will help you understand what should the meaning of  "Ownership at work" should actually mean....

A complicated process.. really its complicated!

As you look at the image to your left, many of you will notice at first sight that it does not make an sense (unless your working experience is of finance background). It is actually a complicated process cycle for finance work flow probably of a big organisation. For us it makes no sense, but for many of the people involved with this work, it must make lot of sense and in fact understanding it may be a crucial part of their job. On the other hand, for some it will still be a messy, scribble riddled process chart (chances are they are the one complaining about the lack of clarity).

On hearing "The future is in your hands",
some take it very literally! 

This whole concept of ownership is like the lines of your palm, if you believe that they are the hard-coded script of your life, then some hack(er) will claim to read it for you and tell you what to do next, or if you believe that they are called as Friction Ridges and they assist you to do your work such as gripping things and identification, you would go ahead and check the link associated with that word. The reason for bringing these examples is to make you see that the first step towards understanding "Ownership at work" depends on the way you view it. If you view it as something that will help you to grow in your work, you would value it and take it often. If you think that it an unwanted burden, you will always want to find ways to ignore it or like many call it "passing the buck". Whatever your view is, it is always directly proportional to the result you are going to achieve. Because the truth is, Our mind always makes sense of; what we wnat to mkae snese of. It may seem like a typo, but I bet you read it right. Our mind always makes sense of; what we want to make sense of!

To understand "ownership" in a deeper way, allow me to fuse certain concepts of libertarian values and the concept of self ownership. The key to distinguish between what you own for yourself and what the company own can be clarified using this concept.

The one that
everyone owns

So let’s start with the most important person in this world for whom you do everything that you do. That person is not your parent, sibling or loved ones! It’s YOU. So let me ask you this question, what is it that you own right now? Don't start thinking of your bank account balance and your estate value. You own something more precious that those things; LIFE. Lean back and take a moment as you are reading this line and rewind your life inside your head and you will observe that most of the things that you did in your life was for you. The decisions of your life that you agreed to choose made you reach wherever you are today. Were those decision taken by someone else? Probably not, so the biggest thing that you own right now is your life. If you, even for a second think that you don't own your life, it only means that you are allowing others to own your life.

As person you exist in the plane of time, and they can be measured in three periods.
We exist in Time

What ever your own in the past becomes your PROPERTY.

In present, you have the FREEDOM of choice to do what you want.

What you have ahead for yourself is you LIFE in future.

We use this property to buy our dreams 
The property that you own is based in the experience that you have gained for yourself. The property in personal life is what you have earned and learned using those experiences in life with people. On a professional level your property is the product of -

a. Labor that you have committed for an organisation/business
b. Time you spent for that
c. Your energy (physical and mental)
d. The talent that you possess

You signing the dotted line is the sign of consent

And if you observe closely these are the four things that an employer looks for in an employee. The better your professional property is, the more you are valued, the more your CTC becomes. It is this important fact, that decides your value as an employee.
When you join an organisation, you agree to exchange your professional property in return for the company's property i.e the resources and designation and power to make choices on behalf of the organisation for its growth. And it is pretty much made clear in the offer letter. But in most cases for a new employee the first thing they look at is the salary structure, but we all know that the romance with that is pretty short lived.

Remember, no organisation needs a slave, its only our mindset that makes us think as one and because most of us do not understand this, they end up blaming the organisation for what it does to us. As you can see from the image above it is a clear exchange of property between the employee and the employer, no one is the master, no one is the slave. the most important fact is it is happening with a mutual consent. So next time when you are faced with this comment "Take Ownership", deduce what you have given to the organisation and what the organisation has given to you and then frame your answer in terms of the property exchanged. This would bring out the true professional in you and make you the most valued employee as you are the one who takes ownership. Blamers gonna blame!

Do you feel this article was helpful? Drop a comment in the section below and learn from each other.


  1. Good one.. Salary structure.. the romance is short lived with it... I like this one and its very practical... keep blogging.. VJ ( OS trainer)

    1. Hi Vijay, nice to see that you like this article.... the experience with salary is pretty universal i believe!! ;)