Nurturing Emotional Ownership Makes for a Stronger Organization

By Keith Hughey

While economic conditions may be improving, credit unions continue to face challenges that can only be overcome with a completely dedicated workforce. As a principal of the credit union, you have the benefit of “owner” attributes that drive your unwavering commitment to the institution’s success. But how do you get your employees—regardless of their job title or responsibilities—to share the same level of dedication?

Creating a culture where employees maintain a clear emotional connection between their efforts and the resulting benefit for the organization makes for a happier, more productive work environment.

If the voices of your employees are heard and their opinions are valued, they feel more connected and have a greater appreciation of the relationship between their actions and overall results for the short- and long-term.

It’s called “emotional ownership.” Think about when you first became interested in baseball or any other sport. No matter your age, at some point—whether you were rooting for the home team or became enamored with a certain player’s prowess on the ball field—you adopted a certain team as “your favorite.” From then on, you only wore sportswear that bore the name, logo, or mascot of that team and you cheered for them every season, no matter their win/loss record.

For most of us, it is safe to say that there was no major financial connection with the team—we didn’t have a stake in the revenue or support them beyond the cost of our game tickets. But every time you saw someone wearing a ball cap or T-shirt with that team’s name, you smiled and felt a connection, even if you had never seen that person before.

In the work environment, this emotional ownership can result from giving employees ownership in the process—even though they may not have direct participation in the profits and losses of the institution. For employees to feel this connection, they need to know the following:

  • Where the institution is going (the vision);
  • Why it is going in that direction (the mission or purpose);
  • How you intend to get there (the values everyone will honor, as well as an action plan to help you achieve the vision);
  • When you plan to arrive at that destination;
  • And perhaps most importantly, what role they play in making that vision become the new reality.

To create a sense of emotional ownership in the workplace, managers need to make those around them feel appreciated by sincerely and objectively listening to all of their ideas and, more importantly, acting on the ones that have merit. As a result of these simple efforts, a higher degree of dedication and enthusiasm will be apparent at all levels of the organization.

One of the truly incredible things about emotional ownership is that once someone’s personal radar becomes fixed on that frequency, all it takes to generate unwavering dedication is minimal training and support.

Conversely, if you stifle the ideas of others, either through words or actions, or send the message that people are simply units of production, the only way to keep them physically engaged and intellectually focused on the tasks at hand is to pay them far more than what they might earn elsewhere. Just know that those golden handcuffs will do little to foster any positive emotional attachment.

Keith Hughey is a senior consultant at John M. Floyd & Associates, a leader in profitability and performance improvement consulting.


Strategic Link is the NWCUA’s wholly-owned service corporation, using the power of aggregation to provide the Association’s member credit unions with exclusive high-quality, competitively-priced products and discounted services. Contact Director of Strategic Partnerships Craig Reed today to find out how Strategic Link can help your credit union save money while meeting its goals in 2013 and beyond:

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