I’ve Got This- Giving Millennials a Sense of Ownership in their Projects

Developing a sense of ownership in millennials

Millennials are the most disengaged generation in the workplace, according to a study conducted by Gallup. So what does this mean for your team? The success or failure of a project is determined by the sum of all the contributions of its members. And if someone doesn’t perform their task effectively, it can hurt the team’s overall performance. As a consequence, the team will increase their chances of missing any upcoming deadlines.

One of the primary reasons why employees fail to perform to the best of their abilities is the lack of ownership in their work. They are simply disengaged and indifferent to their actions consequences. To inspire better productivity, project owners must instill a feeling of responsibility and ownership in every member of the team.

How do we motivate our millennial employees? And how can we make millennials take ownership in their projects and encourage them to perform better at the workplace?

Below are a few tips on how to stimulate ownership in your millennial workforce. By following these tips you will find your team not only to accomplish tasks on time. But more importantly, they will actually enjoy being on the team.


Tip #1: Give them a sense of purpose


It is critical that millennial employees understand how their work contributes to the overall success of the project. By giving millennials a better appreciation of the value of what each team member brings, we help them realize how their actions affect the performance of others. Letting them know that they are valuable contributors rather than simple employees also encourages them to act responsibly and have a stronger sense of ownership in every task they perform.

A CONE study published in 2016 showed that Millennials place great importance on the purpose of their jobs versus having a higher paying job. Millennials perform better when they understand the purpose of their work. Give them a sense of purpose by explaining the project’s goals and objectives. Rather than giving them assignments, give more context by explaining the importance of their contributions to the overall success of the project.

The 2016 Cone Communications Millennial Employee Engagement study showed:

  •         88 percent think it is important their employer shares goals, progress and achievements related to CSR efforts (vs. 75 percent U.S. average)
  •         89 percent want to be active participants in helping their company improve its responsible business practices by providing feedback, ideas and potential solutions (vs. 78 percent U.S. average)

When they know the purpose of their work, employees have higher levels of engagement which inevitably translates to a stronger sense of ownership.


Tip #2: Give them the Lead

With great power comes great responsibility. Today’s workplace is a melting point of several generations, and millennials often being the youngest, frequently find themselves at the bottom of the pecking order. Giving them a senior role in the project allows them to showcase their skills. This position gives them greater responsibility and accountability for their actions.

Virtuali, a leadership training firm and consultancy, and WorkplaceTrends.com, a research and advisory membership portal servicing forward-thinking HR professionals, conducted a study on millennials and their attitude towards leadership. The study found that 91 percent of millennials aspire to be a leader and 52 percent of the participants were women. Half of these millennials defined leadership as “empowering others to succeed,” which is the perfect attitude when working as the leader of a project.

Leadership is a position of trust. By giving millennials a leadership role in the project, you are saying that you believe in their ability. Taking the helm of a project requires ownership. Therefore, only a leader who shows ownership can understand how their performance affects the success or failure of the project.




Tip #3: Encourage creativity

Encourage creativity by letting them decide how best they can perform their task. By allowing them to work independently, you are challenging them to take ownership of their actions. This feeling of ownership can lead to developing better methods of getting the job done. However, if this leads to poor performance, explain why this went wrong and challenge them to perform better.

According to a study by Gallup, millennials are the least engaged generation. The research shows the US Employee Engagement by Generation:

Millennials are less likely to be engaged because they don’t “have the opportunity to do what they do best” at work. The study also says that millennials feel that they are not working in jobs that allow them to use their talents and strengths. To encourage millennials to take ownership of their project, managers should keep them engaged by encouraging them to pursue their task in a unique way.


Tip #4: Include them in the planning process

The planning process is one of the most critical steps in creating a successful project. Give them a sense of ownership from the start by making them actively engaged in the planning. Including them in the planning process allows them to have the opportunity to become contributors to the success or failure of the project. Millennials who are actively engaged in the project have a better grasp of what it takes to be successful.

Millennial engagement levels

Encouraging discussion and actively seeking opinion among team members gives everybody a sense of ownership of how they perform. Appeal to a millennial’s creativity and sense of purpose during the planning process, it makes it easier for them to align their personal goals and gives them a better sense of ownership in their project.


Tip #5: Actively look to praise, but consistent with criticism

One of the best ways to encourage ownership is to give praise for a job well done. An employee who feels appreciated for performing well in the project will take pride in his actions. Promote ownership by acknowledging accomplishments even how little it may be. Show you appreciate their achievements and reward this with trust and an added level of responsibility.

A study by Hays showed that millennials are looking for leaders who are:

What MIllennials look for in a workplace leader

Effective project managers must be able to identify each member’s strengths and weakness. They should reinforce good performance by quickly giving praise and give constructive criticism to those who need direction. With millennials searching for supportive leaders (45 percent) and motivators (43 percent), a project manager must conduct their actions accordingly.

Employees get a great sense of accomplishment when good performance is celebrated. And millennials want even their smallest accomplishments to be acknowledged. By appreciating their achievements, you can encourage them to take ownership because it gives them a better feeling of responsibility in their success.


Tip #6: Make them Accountable for their actions

Set performance goals and make them accountable for the results of their actions. Taking responsibility for your actions is about acknowledging that everything you do can have a direct effect on the performance of the other team members in the project.

Accountability means working within the parameters of the project, meeting goals, delivering on time, and within budget. By taking ownership of their actions, people are more conscious of their performance. Setting expectations makes it easier for managers to provide constructive criticism. When both project manager and team members agree on what constitutes a successful project, members have a clearer sense of the consequences of their performance. A person who feels accountable for his actions is more open to feedback and can carry out these changes as a willing contributor to the project’s success.


Developing a Sense of Ownership in Millennials – The Key to a Successful Project

Given the right motivation, millennials have the potential of becoming valuable contributors to any project. In addition, when younger employees have a sense of ownership, their motivation grows which increases the project delivery speed. With better performance, businesses can reap the full rewards of each successful project by generating company wide employee ownership.



Jeff Butler

Jeff Butler Internationally respected speaker and consultant, Jeff Butler helps bridge generational gaps between Millennials and companies looking for their talent and patronage. Butler has quickly built his reputation as a memorable presenter with tangible solutions for attracting, retaining, and engaging Millennials as employees and customers. Within just the past three years, he has spoken at two TEDx events and multiple Fortune 500 companies such as Google, Amazon, and LinkedIn.


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