Employee Engagement Begins When Employees “Own” Their Company


A Company of Owners: Maximizing Employee Engagement" is a hard-hitting book, written Seth-Godin style by a Ph.D in Psychology, about translating internal motivation to something more powerful than employee engagement, "employee ownership".

employee ownership

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What makes your employees happy? Does it matter? Getting to that point where employees are consistently “plugged in” to their role and duties is not an easy task. There are plenty of theories, conceptual models, and articles to scour through in the search for that “secret sauce” (aka employee engagement).

That “secret sauce”, according to Dr. Daren Martin (author of “A Company of Owners: Maximizing Employee Engagement“) doesn’t lie in employee engagement itself, but in an equally powerful concept, employee ownership.

A Focus on Employee Ownership

The focus of employee engagement is the central problem as described in “A Company of Owners”. You can’t, according to the book, motivate employees externally on a consistent basis. Persistent motivation has to come from within the business. It has to reside within the internal culture of an organization to survive. This internal culture is what “A Company of Owners” calls “employee ownership.”

Employee ownership requires something from leaders and something from employees. From leaders, it requires being proactive (providing clear vision and perspective) and removing environmental barriers (low-performers and reinforcing inefficient policies). From employees, it requires a similar shift in perspective and behaviors. Despite what an employee handbook or policy manual says, culture is what actually happens in a company. Both employees and employers reinforce that culture in their interactions with each other. As a result, they each have a role to play.

“A Company of Owners” challenges leaders to confront their underlying assumptions and use that knowledge to realign their goals with their employees. Goal realignment brings motivation and investment (aka ownership) into that process.

The perspective shift that occurs as a result of goal and policy realignment is vital to employee engagement. Employees need to “own” their role in reaching goals and employers need to “own” their role in cultivating an environment where that can happen. When this kind of “ownership” happens, a high-performing organization develops.

Dr. Daren Martin (@darenmartin) also known as “The Culture Architect” is an author, speaker, and consultant with a Ph.D. in Psychology. He has worked with several businesses including Southwest Airlines and Adobe.

What Was Best About This Book

The best part of “A Company of Owners” is the simple but powerful shift in employee engagement encouraged by Dr. Martin. By transforming the idea of “employee engagement” into “employee ownership,” Dr. Martin encourages a confrontational and courageous shift toward the internal issues that really impact motivation.

The book also provides very realistic suggestions, specifically for leaders, that can be implemented within a day or week. These suggestions provide readers a way to get started now while making the other internal changes discussed elsewhere in the book.

What Could Have Been Done Differently

The book isn’t written in a straightforward “textbook” manner, as expected. Instead, it has a style similar to author and marketer Seth Godin’s (short choppy sentences punctuated with bold statements and the occasional paragraph). This might be helpful for leaders who want a quick answer to employee engagement. For others, this nonlinear approach to content may be confusing.

Why Read This Book

“A Company of Owners: Maximizing Employee Engagement” is best suited for leaders of any sized business who are having trouble creating the level of motivation needed to make their company grow. The book offers a radical perspective shift that is crucial to understanding employee engagement.

The book challenges the external focus of employee management. As an example, a raise (as Dr. Martin might suggest) means nothing in a toxic work culture. This is a key problem that many leaders face when trying to implement employee engagement campaigns. Dr. Martin suggests that it isn’t the external stuff that a leader is doing. It’s the internal mindset and culture behind it.

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Charles Franklin Charles Franklin is a Book Reviewer for Small Business Trends. He has a background as a professional reviewer, and is also a content provider and customer relations professional.