Taking ownership: A litmus test for employee engagement

I’ve worked in plenty of offices that have undertaken office challenges, whether to undertaken environmental initiatives, become healthier, fundraise for a worthy cause, or volunteer our time. These initiatives contribute to employee engagement by facilitating personal goals alongside professional ones; companies that invest in their employee’s personal growth as well as professional demonstrate their commitment employees’ holistic happiness and productivity. They’re always fun while they last, but then afterwards the team usually goes back to their old habits.

But something really special happened during the last challenge that I was part of. As soon as the one-month timeframe was over, the entire team wanted to do another month! And this time we took ownership and drew upon our empowerment and our strong company culture. Our manager was no longer the leader of the challenge; two of our colleagues volunteered to be the ‘Challenge Champions’ and to put together tracking systems, allocate points for staying on track, and compile weekly round-ups. As a team we grouped together to encourage each other.

When our manager began this challenge, its purpose to communicate that personal wellbeing is integral to professional wellbeing. But the most important part of this challenge turned out to be how we took ownership of the initiative as a team. We were able to function at a very high level as a team and to set the parameters of our own team initiative.

The success of our team initiative would not have been possible without two things that we already had in place: empowerment and a strong company culture.

Our manager empowers our team to make changes that we see necessary in our workplace. We have clear avenues of communication to address issues from scheduling and shared workloads to inter-departmental communications and yearly goal setting and strategy. We have regular one-on-one meetings with our manager, and brief, daily departmental meetings to go over day-to-day obstacles and improvements. Our manager has already taken steps to let us take ownership of our daily professional lives; she let us seize an opportunity to take on a challenge that would improve our personal lives and how we work together as a professional team.

Our supportive company culture created a safe and encouraging space for our challenge. Competition in a team can be a very effective tool for motivation, but it requires a healthy team atmosphere. The success of the team’s initiatives hinged on an environment where we would openly celebrate the successes of our teammates and encourage one another to rise to the challenge.

Our team took ownership of an initiative, but our experience speaks to the how truly engaged teams operate in a professional capacity. Truly successful initiatives hinge upon the management and team that take them on. Because our manager had already laid the groundwork to empower us and because we participated in a great culture, our team was perfectly poised to take full ownership of our new initiatives.

What factors contribute to the success of your team initiatives? Do you empower your employees to take ownership in their personal and professional lives?

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