"I don't know how to help him," lamented the boss. "He's a terrific worker, smart and engaging, yet something is holding him back from wanting to grow and really own his work."
I frequently hear this kind of frustration from managers. At first, it may beg the question: Why does it matter if the employee already has so many wonderful attributes and he or she is getting the work done? The answer is more apparent when the frame of reference is changed from a short-term view to a long-term one.
Over time, organizations and employees benefit greatly when staff members move from transactional relationships to invested ones. Employees who care about their work are not simply satisfied with doing tasks well. They look past transactions into job ownership.
Job ownership leads to inquisitive staff members interested in improving themselves, their jobs and the company overall. When an employee cares about his or her work, morale improves, and the level of commitment grows beyond just doing everything well-enough. Such efforts reveal new efficiencies that positively affect safety, quality, profitability and co-worker morale as empowered staff reach out to help and support each other.