What Is Team Ownership, Anyway?

Recently, we shared an article about the difference between delegation and ownership …

And why you should be aiming for more ownership in your business, and less delegation.

Now, once people start to hear about ownership, they get intrigued … but often, still a bit confused.

That’s why today, we wanted to share a bit more with you about what ownership is … and what it isn’t.

Let’s dive in.

What ownership isn’t:

  • Ownership isn’t about handing over tasks, no matter how completely
  • Ownership isn’t about making you obsolete
  • Ownership isn’t actually given at all

What ownership is:

  • Ownership is about being entirely, 100% accountable for determining the outcomes of a given functional business area
  • Ownership is about being entirely, 100% accountable for ensuring that those outcomes are met, regardless of who actually does the work
  • Ownership is taken, not given, and it is taken as a condition of employment

If we were to sum it up in one sentence, it might be that ownership isn’t about doing the work. It’s about ensuring that the right work is being done.

Now, notice too that you cannot have part ownership.

You cannot have two people both be 100% accountable. That would add up to 200% accountability, which really means 0% accountability.

Further, in order to hand over ownership, you must be clear as to what tasks fall within each functional business area.

For example, the reason one does social media is for the purposes of sales and marketing.

Thus, the outcomes for a social media manager are sales and marketing outcomes, not admin outcomes.

Thus, the person doing social media is not an admin person, but rather is a member of the sales and marketing team who reports to the person who owns the responsibility for sales and marketing.

Ownership is not an entry-level job.

While the tasks comprised within any given ownership bucket may be entry level tasks, then, the responsibility of ensuring that outcomes are set and met is never an entry-level responsibility.

For example, you may have an entry-level position which is a social media position and thus, relatively entry level.

But if that same person is responsible for setting and achieving sales targets (ie. they own the sales area of responsibility), then you cannot expect to compensate them in an entry-level way and get amazing results.

You have to compensate them for the value they bring to your organization.

That value, of course, is expressed in terms of ROI.

Some positions and roles, the ROI is obvious. Others, it’s less obvious.

Even if you just think of it in broad terms, is this a $10/hr role? A $100/hr role? A $1000/hr role? A $10000/hr role? Not in terms of what you’d PAY, but in terms of the value you get per hour spent in that role.

If you’re unclear, go back to the outcomes of the role. What are the specific measures that are in place that determine whether someone is doing a good job or not?

It’s not an exact science, of course.

Just because something is a $1,000/hr ROI doesn’t mean you’ll pay them $1,000/hr.

After all, no one works at peak efficiency all the time—and rarely are people spending every minute of their working life doing $1,000/hr or $10,000/hr tasks.

But ultimately, you need to make sure that your team is supporting the health and growth of the business as a whole.

Finally, when it comes to ownership, remember:

You cannot solve structural problems with a bandaid.

You may need to apply a bandaid; you may need to hire someone on a project basis to get you through the next 2 weeks. You may need to hire someone to achieve a specific outcome for you this month. You may need to hire someone to simply keep an eye on your inbox tomorrow.

But don’t confuse that with fixing your structure.

Hire a placeholder, apply your bandaid, do what you have to do…

And then get yourself to the emergency room to get those broken bones set … before they heal misaligned, again.

The longer you wait to get your structure right, the more you’re likely to just end up having things rebreak.

(On the flip side, the best time to set a bone is when it’s already broken and before it’s started to heal)

Set your structure, implement it, and prosper.