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9 Lessons for the First-Time Manager

Define Ownership

Ownership and accountability need to be defined so that your team knows who is responsible for what.


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9 Lessons for the First-Time Manager

9 Lessons for the First-Time Manager


Key Ideas

Probe Work That Seems Ok

If the work is reported to be ok or fine by your subordinates, maybe you need to dig in deep and probe more.

The employee reporting to you may be struggling and not providing the true details of the situation.

Strategize Around Strengths 

It pays to highlight the strength an employee brings and then to work on minimizing the weak aspects. Start and work with the impact and value the employee is making to your team.

Define Ownership

Ownership and accountability need to be defined so that your team knows who is responsible for what.

The 'Sandwich Approach' Is Outdated

Instead of the sandwich approach to provide feedback, try to be direct and dispassionate.

Create a Feedback Cycle

Get a nod or a confirmation on the feedback that is delivered, so that it is clear and the employee hasn't taken away something unexpected or unintended from your conversation.

Diversify your Team

Diversify work within the team so that the long term and short term goals are both taken care of.

Fire Fast

Instead of hanging on to a bad fit, and prolonging the support to employees who are struggling, it is better to let them go.

Meetings should be clear

Have goal-oriented and clear meetings, only when it is important and necessary.

Delegate work to show trust

Show that you trust your team by delegating work and giving people big problems to solve.


Authentic leadership

Is a management style in which leaders are genuine, self-aware, and transparent. 

An authentic leader is able to inspire loyalty and trust in her employees by consistently display...

Components of Authentic Leadership
  • Self-Awareness: be aware of your trengths, weaknesses, and values and displaying them to your team.
  • Relational Transparency: remain genuine, straightforward, and honest with your team. Display the behavior you hope to see in your employees.
  • Balanced Processing: stick to your values when making decisions, but remain open to discussions and alternatve options.
  • Doing the right thing: focus on doing the right thing for the long-term success of the business, not yours.
3 ways to practie self-awareness as a leader
  • Seek feedback from the environment;
  • Use self-reflection to better understand your behavior;
  • Practice regular self-observation to stay aware of your feelings at all times.
  • Delegation

    In a work setting, it means the transfer of responsibility for a task from a manager to a subordinate. 

    The decision to delegate is usually made by the manager. However, sometimes...

    Top Delegation Skills
    • Communication: explain what the task is, what the expectations are, and listen to any questions and concerns.
    • Giving Feedback: provide clear feedback on what they did well, what they struggled with, and why.
    • Training and Assessment of Tasks:  make sure your staff has the skills and abilities necessary to perform the task. This might require some training.
    • Trust: Lay out clear expectations, and provide feedback, but do not micromanage while the employee works on the task.
    Remote-first Mindset

    Accept that you have to put in place remote work systems, even if more than half of your employees ultimately revert to office-based work.

    • If done right, a remote-first infrastructu...
    Build a socially-connected culture

    Intentionally design for the same interactions that would otherwise happen if people were in the office.

    • Culture is what naturally happens when a group of people gets together for any period.
    • A great culture happens with intentional design and influence. It's the reason you should make your company's mission, vision, values, operating principles, standards, and agreements visible. 
    • Culture is experienced through emotions, including how your employees feel about the company, you, other leaders, and peers. That feeling is developed through human interaction at the water cooler, kitchen, or hallway conversations.
    Your leadership presence

    Your people need to feel your presence as a leader as they will have fewer opportunities to see you face to face when they work remotely.

    • Regularly show up in a variety of forms that can include weekly video meetings, periodic company-wide emails, or presence in public channels.
    • Err on the side of more communication rather than less.

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    The Difference Between Managers And Leaders

    Leadership involves creating a compelling vision of the future, communicating that vision, and helping people understand and commit to it.

    Managers, on the other ...

    The Importance Of Delegation

    There's only so much that you can achieve working on your own, that's why it's important to delegate effectively. To successfully delegate:

    • Explain what your team's role and goals are. Or even formalize it in a team charter, which can also be useful for keeping the team on track.
    • Think about the skills, experience and competencies within your team, and start matching people to tasks. 
    Motivating Your Team

    Whatever approach you prefer to adopt, you also need to bear in mind that different people have different needs when it comes to motivation. 

    One size does not fit all. Some individuals are highly self-motivated, while others will under-perform without managerial input, and you need to be able to handle both. 

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    7 key behaviors for virtual leaders
    • Clarify expectations. Bad assumptions multiply when there is less regular conversation.
    • Don't worry about how the team spends their time and focus on results.
    1:1 meetings
    1:1 meetings

    1:1 meetings matter. It is important to nurture that essential employee-manager relationship. But it still not easy to get right.

    Under pressures, managers are still juggl...

    1:1 category

    The goal of an effective 1:1 is not an update from your direct report or for you to lay down some instructions. It's a conversation. It's a chance to hear about your direct reports' ideas for your product, their career goals, and possibly their opinion of their performance.

    Keep a list of three potential topics ready for discussion. When they say they have nothing to discuss, you can jumpstart the conversation with one of your items.

    Manager's best tool

    Your most precious resource is your own time and energy. When you spend it on your team, it helps build healthy relationships.

    Your job as a manager isn't to give advice or 'save the day.'' It's to empower your reports to find the answer themselves. If you want to understand what's going on, ask. Let her lead the conversation while you listen and probe.

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    The 2 goals of effective brainstorming:
    The 2 goals of effective brainstorming:
    • Defer judgment (don’t get upset when people say bad ideas).
    • Reach for quantity (come up with as many ideas as possible).
    Obstacles to an effective brainstorming:
    • Fear of judgment from people in positions of power;
    • Extroverts take center stage;
    • Groups hate scary ideas, even it they're great ones;
    Steps of the creative process
    1. Preparation: individual study to focus your mind on the problem;
    2. Incubation: the problem enters your unconscious mind and nothing appears to be happening externally;
    3. Intimation: you get a “feeling” that a solution is on the way;
    4. Illumination: your creative idea moves to conscious awareness;
    5. Verification: your idea is consciously verified, expanded upon, and then executed.

    "In a fast-moving, competitive world, being able to learn new skills is one of the keys to success. It’s not enoug..."

    Heidi Grant Halvorson
    Check your readiness

    Learning a new skill takes commitment. And there are certain limits to what you can learn. So, before starting working on a new skill, ask yourself:

    • If your goal really is attainable
    • How much time and energy you can give to this process.
    Make sure it’s needed

    Make sure the skills you've chosen are relevant to your career, your organization, or both. 

    Gaining a new skill is an investment and you need to know upfront what the return will be.

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    Time Management Is Not A Solution
    Time Management Is Not A Solution

    Most people want more done during the course of the day, feeling productive if they have checked more boxes out of their to-do list. Time management has been a fad for a long time, equating product...

    Attention Management

    Shifting our focus towards people and projects, rather than the time it takes for us to work on something is referred to as Attention Management.

    Productivity is not a virtue, but just a means to an end, and it means nothing if the end is not worthy. Paying attention to your intrinsic motivation, on why you are excited about the project will make you push yourself naturally and achieve the goal.

    Lack Of Distractions Promotes Productivity

    Many studies show that bad weather days when it is too cold or rainy, keeps the working people glued to their work, being more productive as they are less distracted by the thought of going outside.

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    Why setting expectations is critical

    One of the top reasons for unhappiness in the workplace is communication issues with one’s manager/supervisor.

    Managers tend to make incorrect assumptions that employees have al...


    It’s crucial for your team to know exactly what is expected of them.

    The unwritten rules about the level of quality expected in the work, and the depth of knowledge that needs to be displayed, are what defines a successful work project.

    What are the boundaries of an employee’s responsibilities? What are and what aren’t the roles of the job?

    Communication is one of the most critical components of organizational life, and it is far too important to leave to chance.

    What’s the preferred way of communicating, both formally and informally? What should be the frequency of communication? What are the protocols for communication at different levels – while reporting to the manager or even upper management?

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