Monday Mornings with Madison


There is a growing cry in the global workplace for people to ‘own their career.’  That is, there is a growing desire for individuals to take control of their career growth including career transition and recognize that the only person responsible for what happens in their career is themselves.  That is good advice.  But it is also important for people not only to own their career, but to also ‘own their work.’  Owning your work or job is not a recommendation for employees to go out and start a business or become freelancers / contractors… although that might be good advice for some. 

Rather, the concept of owning your work refers to taking pride in what you do and demonstrating a willingness to own your job.  That is good advice for everyone.  Far too many people in the workplace today see themselves as ‘just employees’ and are not personally invested in the success of the company where they work.  Sentiments like “It’s not my problem.” or “It’s just a job.” undermine both company success and individual success.  In fact, perhaps the first step in owning one’s career is to own one’s work first.  To be truly successful and be able to call the shots in your career, you need to be viewed as someone who owns their work and takes full responsibility for the job performed.

How do you do that?  Owning a job is more than just an attitude, although it starts there. 
Any job you do is going to have your fingerprints all over it.  In other words, your coworkers and managers generally know what work you do.  That is why it is important to take charge of your job, any job you do, and really own it.  Don’t just do it the best you can… do it the best it can be done.  Do your job as if you owned the company.  That is how you succeed.  Here are some tips on how to take ownership of what you do.

Step 1 – Develop a Genuine Passion for Your Work.
It makes sense that when you are passionate about what you do, you do better and you enjoy it more.  That pays off in increased success. Nothing replaces genuine passion.  But sometimes you can’t be passionate about a job.  At those times, fake it ‘til you make it.  Even if you don’t really feel passionate about what you are doing, pretend to love it and throw yourself into it.  You can still own the job and do it well.  Hopefully, eventually, a genuine passion will come from the pride of knowing that you are doing the job the best it can be done.

Step 2 – Have Energy and Pride.
When you are passionate about what you do, you have more energy. “In turn, energy is a key factor in productivity,” said Dr. Richard A. Chaifetz, chairman and CEO of ComPsych, the world’s largest provider of employee assistance programs and worldwide leader in Guidance Resources (EAPs, behavioral health, wellness, work-life and crisis intervention services).  Greater energy increases how much you care about what you do. When you care more about what you do, you do it better and you can take pride in what you have done. When you are proud of what you have done, you are passionate about it. It is a cycle that feeds on itself and increases your capability.  

Step 3 – Make A Difference.
The people who get promoted are those who make a difference.  If there is no difference between what happens when you come to work and when you don’t, why would anyone want to pay you?  The most obvious way to make a difference is to do any job you tackle the best it can be done… not just the best you can do it.  That is a big part of what ‘taking ownership’ means. You may not be the best choice for a particular job, but once it is given to you, it is up to you to get it done the best way possible.  If you do that, people will notice. When they see you take ownership of every job you do, you’ll start to get jobs that are important to the company. The more jobs you do that matters to your superiors, and do them well, the more value you will have to the company.

What is the alternative?  The alternative to taking ownership of a job is to not take ownership of a job.  Just slide through it. Take the easy way out. Let others do the work and sit back and take all the credit when it is done or don’t take any credit at all.  Do you think that job will be done well?  Do you think upper management is going to be looking for the person who did that job so they can put him/her in charge of the next job?  Do you think when the next layoff comes will that person be on the list of expendable people?

The truth is that every job you do has your “signature” on it. People know who did it. If you want to own your career, then you need the work you do to be something of which you can be proud.  You want the jobs you take on to help your career, not hold you back. So, today, go above and beyond and really take ownership of every job you do. Do each task as if you own the company.  You will feel better for having done it, and others will notice.

Instead of your Vice President saying, “Let’s let (your name here) go. He/she never does much anyway.”, make sure your CEO stands up at the next company meeting and says “And special thanks to (your name here) for that great job on the xx project.”  By owning your work, you are taking the first step to owning your career.


“All labor that uplifts humanity has dignity and importance and should be undertaken with painstaking excellence.” Martin Luther King, Jr.

© 2010 – 2011, Written by Keren Peters-Atkinson, CMO, Madison Commercial Real Estate Services. All rights reserved.

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