Giving Responsibility vs. Giving Tasks
How to get people on board
I just finished a whirlwind trip to Ireland, California, Ohio and Virginia. In each of those places I had discussions with business owners around how to get people to take initiative. One thing that came out was that a lot of us think we’re giving people responsibility when we’re really just giving tasks. The results are very different from one to the other.
The Main Difference
When we give people responsibility, they will take ownership.
When we give them a task, they will feel used.
Responsibility Leads to Ownership
The difference matters because giving people ownership creates Stakeholders, while making them feel used creates employees. Too often we give tasks when we think we’re giving responsibility and are inadvertently making people into employees when what we really want are Stakeholders.
The Difference Between a Task and a Responsibility?
Responsibility always includes the ability to make decisions at multiple levels:
1) Am I free to come up with a better way to do it?
2) Can I question the validity of the task altogether (ask why)?
3) Am I responsible to get it done without someone checking up on me?, and others.
Tasks usually involve one decision:
“Am I going to do what they told me, or not?” Someone else has figured out all the other “hard” questions” (especially why). I just need to decide whether I will obey. Pretty much what we expect of a five-year old.
Children are given tasks. Adults are given responsibility. Stakeholders are Adults. Employees are children. Which do you want?