How Conscious Ownership Impacts Performance

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Managers are achievers in their own right. They move up the ranks by applying their skills and talents to opportunities that opened up along the way. Many excel because of their technical expertise. With people reporting to them, the technical skills they rely on in the past become less essential. They need to lead people. They need to motivate their team. They need to support and coach team members. They need to develop very different skill sets.

To attain high performance from each worker, you need to cultivate conscious ownership of performance. Let me explain what conscious ownership is.

Conscious ownership is a commitment to take full ownership of performance. This ownership goes beyond own areas of responsibilities. It extends to hold oneself accountable to collaborate and support others who have a role in delivering the desired outcomes.

There are two key attributes for conscious ownership. They are comprehension of results and accountability ownership. The diagram below illustrates the four mindsets you’ll experience from different combinations of the two attributes.

In the lower-left quadrant, there is low comprehension of results. This means the worker has an idea what she is responsible for. However, there is little understanding of why it is important and how what is expected of her relates to others’ work. She will do the work because it is a job. She will comply the instructions given her. With a ‘just a job’ mindset, there is little commitment to the work. As a result, you don’t want to rely on this individual for mission critical work.

In the upper-left quadrant, you have high comprehension of results. The worker has a good understanding of her performance goals and how they integrate in the big picture. With a compliance accountability attitude, this individual is disenchanted for reasons of misalignment with personal goals or the nature of her work. This noncommittal mindset is a sign of misfit. The risk of the worker leaving for greener pasture when opportunities come up is high.

In the lower-right quadrant, the worker is fully committed to her work even though there is low comprehension of results. The individual is passionate about her work. Without knowing how her work aligns with others in the big scheme of things, myopic thinking limits her ability to challenge herself and others. The narrow perspective hinders her potential resulting in subpar performance; undesirable for the individual and the business as a whole.

The upper-right quadrant is the ideal mindset for high performance. Holistic consciousness comprises high comprehension of results and commitment to accountability ownership. The high comprehension of results puts the worker in a collaborative mode where she is conscientious about her own performance while fully cognizant of how her work integrates with others. She actively alerts peers when situations call for collaboration. She takes full ownership of the outcomes. There is no shirking of accountability. When every worker possesses this holistic consciousness mindset, there is a virtuous circle of trust, commitment, and coherent performance. Share on X

As a manager, you want to foster conscious ownership of accountability. For workers in the left half of the diagram, you need to determine whether it is better to let these people go. Alternative, you need to see what changes are needed to move them to the right side of the diagram. When you have people in the myopic thinking quadrant, you can move them into the top-right quadrant.

Keep in mind that when you assign work and set performance goals, stopping short of putting things in the right context and articulating the relevance is counter-productive. When people don’t understand the big picture, they focus on their own work. Silos are great for segregation, the opposite of collaboration, which is essential for high performance.

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