January 24th, 2022
Innovation and Ownership
“Ownership is the path to innovation, growth, and retention.”
Of all the things we must do in ’22, my view is ownership must be the focus at our companies. Why? The core reason is team building. At the end of the historic year of 2021, did you know that 4.2 million workers quit their jobs in October? And that 4.3 million quit in September setting the all-time record? These two numbers add up to nearly 6% of the entire USA workforce, either retiring or moving to a better job in only eight weeks! Some economists are calling it the “Great Resignation” for obvious reasons. Our industry (durable goods manufacturing) is not immune, evidenced by the 342,000 workers who quit in these same months. So what do we do about it? Most of our companies have raised wages and in some cases done so dramatically. We have also used incentives and multiple programs to understand why people resign. And in my view, we must do more–and that more is enhancing your ownership mindset and programs.
Some may speak against this ownership quest, based on business cycles and if we will continue to have growth opportunities. The market for our products should remain strong based on the foundation of our building 275,000 fewer homes every year for the last 20 years compared to 1970 through 2000. If we built to demand in the last 20 years, there would be 5 million more existing homes for our families! Even if we built 2 million homes per year until 2032, we would still be behind actual demand. The need for windows and doors in remodeling is predicted to continue its growth as our housing stock grows older. Of course- fiscal policy, labor shortages, and supply issues will affect what really happens, and the prediction business is foggy. All that being said, core demand is good for our products.
Ownership is an essential part of a team environment and engaging our current and future teams. There are three ownership levels, and progressing through each phase will energize your groups:
- Ownership as a culture;
- Ownership as a sharing of gain;
- Ownership as an actual share of the corporation.
Ownership as a culture is engaging everyone with responsibility and incentives. It is communicating and even over-communicating all the decisions affecting the team and the company. It is offering a slot on a team project for every teammate. It is creating an education program for everyone held at the facility. It is creating a clear path to more ownership as performance and service time increases. And above all, it is training the management team how to support, enhance and grow the ownership mentality in every single teammate.
Ownership as a share of gain is providing a monetary amount aligned with the business performance and frequently communicating the performance. It is to align all the performance measures to support clear business goals and engage everyone. It is to gear up a communication team and strategy to promote the advantages of profit and efficiency (as many teammates may not fully understand this). It is to build a culture that is safe and generous. It is to build a giving culture that provides help for teammates and communities where they live.
Ownership share is the ultimate goal. It is an actual share of the company that may be an ESOP, Stock Options, or Employee Stock Purchase program. There is nothing that will engage your team as much as real ownership. We should take on the responsibility to help everyone reach the American Dream, and this form of ownership is the foundation of our country. If you can make this happen, team engagement will soar, as will innovation. A great reference to read is “Create Amazing.”
It has been said that ownership is the second strongest force in the universe. I don’t know about that, but I do know it changes lives.
Owners are innovators!