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Fundamentals of Ownership Culture

Practical Ideas for Creating a Great Employee Ownership Company

(Digital Version)

by Corey Rosen and Loren Rodgers

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The research over the last 30 years could not be clearer that unless companies combine sharing ownership with creating a true culture of ownership, employee ownership will, at best, have no impact on performance and may actually harm it by raising worker expectations and then failing to meet them. When companies do create these cultures, however, great things happen. This book shows you how by focusing on practical ideas from dozens of employee ownership companies. Chances are, at least several of these ideas are ones you can implement right now.

Publication Details

Format: PDF, 134 pages
Dimensions: 6 x 9 inches
Edition: 1st (December 2011)
Status: Available for electronic delivery

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Introduction: The Essentials of Effective Employee Ownership
1. Helping People Understand What Ownership Means at Your Company
2. Open-Book Management and Other Entrepreneurship Programs
3. Involving Employees at the Strategic Level
4. Short-Term Incentives
5. Celebration
6. Mission, Vision, and Values
7. Employee Involvement: Getting Started
8. Advanced Employee Involvement
9. Case Studies
Appendix: The Research on Employee Ownership and Corporate Performance


From Chapter 8, "Advanced Employee Involvement"

Sometimes companies embark on employee involvement programs only to run into a stone wall from managers, supervisors, and/or employees. "We tried that before," they say, "and it just didn't work." A lot of this frustration has to do with the inevitable ambiguity that arises when people's roles change. Managers and supervisors now are supposed to coach and listen; employees to share ideas and information.

Defining these new roles can be difficult, but it is essential to developing realistic expectations of just what participation involves. Typically, there's a learning curve for each of the groups. Management needs to learn how to balance giving up control while continuing to provide leadership. Middle managers must learn to give up some authority and become catalysts for employee input and decision making. Employees need to learn new skills that will allow them to contribute. Lastly, each group needs to understand how everyone else contributes.

One way to address these issues is to get people together in small groups, with representation from each group at each table. You will need a facilitator to lead the exercise. Have each group think of an example in the company where employee participation was tried. Now ask each member to take on the role of someone representing a point of view different than their own. For example, a non-management employee will act as a senior manager or supervisor, a middle manager will become a non-management employee or senior manager, and the senior manager will act as a non-management employee or supervisor.

Have each group discuss the participation effort from the point of view they represent based on the following:
  • Who had input into the design and implementation?
  • How was the effort communicated?
  • Did you have enough information? Was it understandable?
  • Did you understand what your role was?
  • Did you get involved?
  • Did you support the effort?
  • Did you have training to help you adjust to the change?
  • Were you able to discuss your concerns with management, supervisors, and employees?
  • Were comments thoughtful or just venting frustration?
  • Was enough time given?
  • Was there a system for feedback and follow-through?
  • Were the goals clear and achievable?
  • Were the necessary resources available?
  • Did you feel appreciated? Is that a reasonable expectation?

Have each group report back a synopsis of its discussion. Now reexamine the issue with the entire group of participants to see what was effective and where improvements could have been made. Whether the participation effort was successful or not, there's something to be learned from analyzing it in this way.