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Unlock your team’s entrepreneurial potential with Employee Ownership

by Ana Lopez
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A strong team of many surpasses even the most hard-working entrepreneurs alone. But when hiring employees, freelancers and contractors, how do you ensure they have the same entrepreneurial skills and drive as you as the owner of your business? Is it unrealistic to expect employees to be motivated and committed to an organization they did not create?

Nicki Sprinz thinks she’s cracked the code to unlocking your team’s entrepreneurial potential, and the answer lies in employee ownership. Sprinz is certified general manager of B-Corp ustwo London, a company with more than 200 employees and co-founder of Ada’s List, an 8,000-member community created to support women working in the tech industry. ustwo has recently become employee owned and has already seen the benefits of eliminating the distinction between owners and employees.

According to the Employee Ownership Association, this way of working can improve productivity, support more resilient regional economies and empower team members, making them much more engaged. Sprinz explained the main entrepreneurial benefit of this model, along with best practices for company directors and founders to make the transition to employee ownership.

Employee property protects the company

“Employee ownership means that existing team members, who are now partners, feel more empowered as owners,” said Sprinz. She believes this encourages everyone to make an effort to uphold a strong company culture and adjust if they see something wrong.

While this may not happen automatically, a founder can make it more likely that his team will uphold the vision. Sprinz has established frameworks to ensure that everyone has a voice. “We are holding open fires, have elected partner representatives on the board and are ensuring that there are regular communication channels for all team members to be a part of growing the culture and living the values,” she said.

Keeping the team on board means protecting the company. “There are no surprises about the direction we are taking with the company,” explains Sprinz. “We involve everyone in the decisions we make about our projects and make sure we are responsible, both commercially and ethically.”

Attract and retain top talent

In a competitive market, how does your company attract and retain the best talent in the world for the benefit of your customers? Employee ownership could be the solution. Not only does it make vacancies stand out, but it attracts like-minded people who think long-term. They are committed to a future with whichever company they choose to join and are willing to push themselves to make it happen.

“Potential recruits and high-quality employees are interested in values ​​and purpose,” said Sprinz. “If you can talk about employee ownership, you stand out in a tough hiring market. We have different interview phases so that a candidate can get to know us as much as we would like to get to know him.”

Sprinz’s interview stages aim to weed out “cultural and value mismatches that ultimately lead to an unfulfilled team.” They ask candidates several questions about their values ​​and examples of them in practice, and they encourage candidates to ask questions about ustwo. They also “publish salary for all open positions and candidates have the opportunity to meet other members of the team,” she added.

Control quality

When scaling a business, ambitious entrepreneurs cannot afford to let quality slip. Growth at all costs is a false economy that ends with the company back at square one and having to work harder to undo reputational damage. “A more entrepreneurial team ensures that quality remains high,” explains Sprinz. Not only do your team members care deeply about the work they do, they also know they benefit from the company’s growth, so they are incentivized to keep raising the bar.

“If your team is invested in the long-term financial success of the company, they also feel proud that their work contributes to its overall success,” says Sprinz. “They respond by raising the bar for their work.” Sprinz also believes that “regular and transparent sharing of financial results and metrics maintains dialogue about personal and business impact.”

Aim the future

An employee-owned company has options for the future. The owner may want to step aside or sell one day, and the company’s succession plan is already in place. In the meantime, the company has reached new heights and moved forward with new ideas because the fundamentals are solid.

Like Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, you can’t achieve self-actualization without warmth and shelter, and a company can’t break ceilings with constant hiring problems. When team members are bought into the company, they are also bought into the future, making the results more certain for everyone involved.

“The partner representatives on the board expose the priorities of the rest of the team and ensure that the board conversations are guided accordingly,” explains Sprinz. “The representatives are an active part of the bigger picture and play a huge role in shaping the future of the company.”

Unlock your team’s entrepreneurial potential by exploring employee ownership, Sprinz advised. The best people will be proud to tell their friends that they own the place where they work. They will feel valued and heard and will respond with their commitment and dedication. Could employee ownership be the right step forward for you?

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