Your browser is out-of-date!

Update your browser to view this website correctly. Update my browser now


Do Your Employees Think Like Owners or Renters?

Our industry is too dynamic and fast changing to allow sedentary thinkers in the door.

“Nobody ever washed a rental car.”—Thomas L. Friedman, Thank You For Being Late

It’s in our nature to constantly contemplate the world as it is and the world as we wish it would be. It’s no secret the difference between healthy and toxic organizations boils down to a healthy culture. Company culture is nothing more than a group of people choosing to think and act a certain way together. Every day your company goes home and each morning it comes back to life through the daily efforts of the team.

At Livewire, we’ve figured out a few key success factors to foster a healthy culture:

1. We provide our employees the tools they need to succeed and explain what’s expected of them. From there, it’s up to them to take the initiative to go above and beyond our minimum performance standards. Those who figure this out rise high in our company. Those who don’t usually self select out.

2. We learned that taking a personal interest in an employee doubles their engagement at work and increases their chances of becoming a long-term hire. This effort costs our company next to nothing but the challenge is constant diligence to make sure our personal interest in direct reports starts and remains strong versus petering out.

3. We know that engaged employees are much more likely to take pride in their team, their work, and their company (thinking like owners). We try to look for ownership thinking traits during our selection process and weed out any potential “renters” who may affect morale.

As you look around your company, how many renters do you see? How many are there based on hourly compensation alone and aren’t interested in self improvement, let alone helping the company grow? There’s nothing wrong with renter employees, but they don’t belong in your custom installation business. 

Our industry is too dynamic and fast changing to allow sedentary thinkers in the door. If you can’t convert your renters to owners, consider helping them find other opportunities outside your organization. Your “ownership thinking” employees will thank you and probably ask why you didn’t make the move sooner.

How do you change a renter to an owner in your company? Try getting to know them better by taking a personal interest in their lives. 

One of my favorite renter stories involves an employee who’d started having issues at work out of the blue. He’d been a great employee for years but all of a sudden began having conflicts with co-workers, not communicating effectively, and exhibiting a negative attitude around the office. I took time to ask him what was going on, and he let me know that he was going through a divorce. My tone immediately changed because I felt the impact of his story. I empathized with him and told him that I was there for him if he needed anything. From there on in, things improved with the employee and he began “owning” again.

Owning and renting clearly sit along a continuum, just like company culture. We’re always able to plot where our company sits between where we are and where we’d like to be. The good news is that we can make a big difference in the lives of our employees by leaning in and listening. The bad news is that there’s no quick fix and lack of genuine concern is easy to spot.

I work with my leadership team constantly to spot renters and put them on the path to ownership thinking. The earlier you catch a renter (preferably pre-hire), the easier it is to address their issues and keep things on the straight and narrow. 

Just like a garden gone to seed, our companies are no different. Our employees, customers, and trade partners need constant attention, care, and genuine focus to thrive and flourish.

How are you changing your renters to owners?

Stay frosty and see you in the field.