Ownership Associates announces the November, 2005, sale of the Ownership Culture Survey to the National Center for Employee Ownership.
The NCEO, a nonprofit organization serving employee-ownership companies since 1980, is now the sole source for the survey items. Companies interested in employee-ownership surveys should contact the NCEO or visit the survey resources page on the NCEO website.
A Sample OCS Client: OurCo
Even before adopting an ESOP five years ago, "OurCo" (a fictional composite of past ESOP and non-ESOP clients) had a participative management style, sharing financial information and soliciting employee input. After a strong start in the first couple years of ownership, the energy was waning. Workshops, open book management, and an all-employee strategic retreat had mixed results. Not sure what to try next, the managers decided they needed some objective data.
Excerpts from OurCo's Ownership Culture Profile
The OCS is based on the assertion that ownership values come in pairs, and that each right of ownership implies a corresponding responsibility. The employees at OurCo were proud of their right to exercise influence at the company, but had not focused on the responsibility that comes along with that right: to be good organizational citizens. The survey indicated, for example, that 61% of employees did not believe that "there are limits to the kinds of issues in which employees should participate." This is an example of a rights heavy culture that the company needs to bring into balance.
For managers at OurCo, the biggest surprise was the lukewarm scores on Decision Making rights. They felt the company had gone out of its way to allow for employee input. A closer look at the data revealed that employees felt that they did have a voice in major, company-wide and department-level decisions-the score was dragged down by the items asking about autonomy. Employees felt micromanaged, that they had no latitude in performing their day-to-day jobs. Their ideas about how to make their work more efficient were stifled by middle managers operating "by the book."
Using the Survey Results at OurCo
Based on the survey results, OurCo changed its approach to employee involvement. While the company is still committed to consulting employees about strategy, the emphasis shifted to on-the-job decision making. The effort included training for middle managers and a new financial literacy program for employees. The idea for the new approach came from the autonomy items (discussed above) and from a second OCS topic: Information and Learning. These items indicated that the old program did a solid job of teaching employees how company success benefited them, but a poor job of tying their daily job performance to company health. Employees at two departments in particular did not know what factors determine profitability. Managers recruited employees from high-scoring departments to speak with their peers about company critical numbers. It is too early to judge the success of the new program, but it seems to have recaptured some of the early enthusiasm for ownership.