The big payoff to us for playing The Game is that we become a more educated, more flexible organization. We can respond instantaneously to changes in the market. We can turn on a dime for a customer if we have to. We can respond to problems in the length of time it takes to place a phone call. We can do all that because we have a company filled with people who not only are owners, but who also think and act like owners, not like employees. That’s an important distinction. Getting people to think and act like owners goes far beyond giving them equity.
Ownership Advantage: Financial Literacy is Key to Creating an Ownership Culture Over the years I have talked to several business owners who want their employees to think and act like owners. They want them to be engaged and passionate about their jobs. They want them to enjoy coming to work. These owners often see setting up an ESOP as a way to change the organization’s culture and instill the aforementioned traits of thinking and acting like an owner. Two or three years later, I talk to some of the same owners, who at one time saw the ESOP as a cure for their culture problems and now are blaming the ESOP and the employees for their inability to create an ownership culture. They say: “I started this ESOP thinking that it would make all my employees care about their jobs. It hasn’t done anything. In fact, their behavior is worse now.” One would ask: “Why is it worse?” The answer is that these owners were using leadership to manage employees before the ESOP and after the ESOP they quit leading and managing them at all because they thought the ESOP would do this for them. I’ve heard of several cases like this. So, if the ESOP is not going to be the magic potion, what is?