14 Ways That Employees Can Take Ownership at Work

Updated March 16, 2023

Regardless of your job role or industry of employment, it's important to understand how to excel at work and uphold the needs of your employer. One way to accomplish these goals is to take ownership at work, which allows you to become more aware of your role within the larger context of your company. By researching the importance of work ownership and taking ownership in the workplace, you have the ability to maximize your contributions to your company.

In this article, we define what it means to take ownership at work, discuss its importance and review several ways to take ownership of your job.

Related: How To Empower Yourself and Others

What does taking ownership at work mean?

To take ownership at work means to be proactive in your job role and to understand the purpose of your job duties in achieving larger company goals. Another way to define this concept is to hold yourself accountable for your work, regardless of the outcome, and demonstrate a genuine interest in contributing to company success.

Related: How To Set Professional Goals for Career Advancement

Why is it important to take ownership at work?

Taking ownership at work can benefit you in several ways. Here are some examples:

  • Provides a constant source of motivation for your work: Taking ownership of your work helps with motivation in your job role, as it empowers you to ask questions, develop ideas and get feedback on your efforts instead of waiting to receive answers from your superiors.

  • Ensures you align your projects or job duties with company goals: When taking ownership of your work, you maintain good communication with your direct superior and ask questions about the reasoning behind new assignments or job tasks. This helps you direct your work activities toward accomplishing company goals.

  • Helps you foster positive workplace relationships: Because work ownership encourages accountability and communication with your superiors, it helps you complete your work while thinking of how it affects others and ensures you speak with your superior to learn more about their expectations.

  • Encourages career growth: Work ownership encourages you to expand your skill set, take on additional responsibilities and pursue new job roles, which can help you take proactive steps in your career.

Related: How To Apply Self-Motivation in the Workplace

14 ways to take ownership at work

Here is a list of different strategies you can use to take ownership at work:

1. Remind yourself why you chose your job

Reminding yourself of the goals and career aspirations that led you to apply for and accept a job offer can help you remotivate yourself about your job duties. This is because you clearly understand your job's purpose in your life and future career. Your ability to remember why you chose your current job also allows you to reevaluate your career goals and develop strategies for achieving those objectives. This could include gaining more experience before considering internal promotions or enhancing your interpersonal skills.

Related: 8 Ways To Find Your Passion

2. Be proactive instead of reactive

Taking ownership of your work requires you to take proactive measures in your daily job duties. This includes anticipating problems and developing solutions, asking for clarification on deadlines or tasks and working ahead to minimize stress or confusion during busy workdays.

3. Practice managing up

Managing up is a process employees can take to get to know their superiors, including their management styles, communication preferences and expectations. It also encourages employees to develop a positive working relationship with their manager. This is a useful way to take ownership at work because it allows you to establish trust with your superiors and pursue opportunities to gain more work experience.

4. Balance expressing your ideas with supporting others' ideas

An important part of taking ownership of your work is expressing your ideas during team meetings or projects. To do this, you need to have confidence in yourself and support your ideas with evidence.

However, as important as it is to express your own thoughts, it's just as important to listen to ideas and input from your team. Company leaders and experienced employees often have innovative ideas that align with company goals. In these situations, taking ownership of your job means acknowledging the ideas of others and when to support them by converting their ideas into actions.

5. Communicate with your employer about your career goals

To take ownership of your work and accomplish your career goals, you need to be honest with your manager about what you want to achieve in your job role, which areas you want to learn more about and the projects or job duties you enjoy most. Being honest with them is important because it helps them better understand your needs as an employee. It also helps you work with your manager to establish performance milestones and determine new tasks that align with your interests.

6. Ask for constructive feedback

Instead of waiting for performance reviews and peer reviews, ask for constructive feedback regularly as a standard part of your work routine. Asking for constructive feedback from peers and superiors gives you the chance to better understand how you excel in your role as a teammate and employee. It also helps you determine what areas you should improve to contribute to your company more successfully.

Related: Growing Your Career: Learning From Negative Feedback

7. Practice active listening

Active listening is a method you can use to enhance your communication skills in the workplace and take ownership of your work. It includes non-verbal cues like nodding, smiling, making eye contact, taking notes and positioning your body in certain ways, but it can also involve making small verbal gestures and asking questions.

Through active listening, you can better understand the needs of your employer and your teammates. You also enhance your memory by focusing your attention on the speaker and taking notes. Further, being able to listen actively ensures that you gain clarity about your job tasks so that you can execute them effectively.

8. Offer solutions to problems

When taking ownership of your work, offering solutions is more effective than presenting problems. For example, instead of going straight to your manager with a problem you discovered, take a few minutes to consider how you would solve the problem by yourself. When you visit with them, present the problem and immediately describe a few potential solutions you came up with. This shows initiative on your part and helps your manager maintain awareness of workplace activities.

9. Develop your self-awareness

Self-awareness is how you understand yourself, including your strengths, weaknesses, learning style and personality traits. By having an in-depth understanding of your habits and needs, you can hold yourself accountable, set goals for improvement and adjust the way you work to accommodate your strengths and weaknesses. For example, if you know you have difficulty concentrating for long periods, you can adjust your work style to complete tasks in set time frames followed by short breaks.

10. Ask questions early on

When you start a new project or job assignment, you can take ownership of your work by asking questions early. This helps you determine key objectives your manager wants you to achieve and figure out the purpose of a project or job assignment within your department or the company as a whole.

11. Volunteer for new assignments or team roles

By volunteering to lead presentations, take on additional assignments or switch to a different team role for a project, you have the opportunity to develop your skills and get closer to career milestones. Volunteering yourself for these opportunities helps you take ownership of your work because it forces you to instigate change instead of waiting for someone else to give you new assignments and responsibilities.

12. Take advantage of learning opportunities

A key part of taking ownership at work is motivating yourself to improve your professional knowledge and workplace skills. You can do this by participating in training programs or certification courses. Depending on the company you work for, you might be able to pursue these learning opportunities through your HR department. If not, you can seek certification courses online or in your local community.

13. Set professional goals for yourself

Setting professional goals for yourself gives you specific standards to uphold and career milestones to tailor your work efforts toward. This also gives you a sense of empowerment because it helps you challenge yourself as an individual and gives you a sense of control over your professional aspirations.

14. Develop a forward-thinking attitude

When taking ownership of your work, always think about how your current actions and behaviors will influence your coworkers, employer and future career goals. One example of this would be if you considered how your involvement in work activities could affect your future skill level and ability to get promotions.

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