Tech Manager—Taking Ownership: I Got This!

We all “own” a lot of things—a car, a house, a pet (or are we just roommates?)—and we keep gathering more and more.  We boast about the things we own. We protect, admire, and cherish the things we own. We also feel emotions related to what is “ours.” So when we step into other people's areas of ownership, they often get defensive, protective, or admonish us to stay away.

The word “mine” emerges early in our toddler days.  “Mine!” is heard so often in these early years. And while the spoken expression is heard less often as we enter adulthood, one may still see the “attitude” behind the word. It is often perceived as a negative attitude, resulting in behavior such as hoarding, excluding others, or being selfish.

But ownership is not bad. Ownership is a good attitude for a Tech Manager to have with regard to their duties and areas of oversight. Ownership is a mind set on action—not waiting for someone else to step up. We need to own things, own up to things, own the quality of our work, and own the outcome. We need to have healthy pride of ownership in the areas for which we are responsible. We need to extend these areas with a “come alongside” embrace of others in an expanding technology world.

So when is it healthy to say “mine”? When is it good to take ownership? Let’s ponder that.

The Positives of Taking Ownership

Taking ownership shows others that you are willing to become proactive in your efforts. It tells them that you can handle the work and that they should trust you. It tells them that you are prepared to act and to take accountability for your actions. You own the results of any action or inaction for that area—this includes unexpected results of things that might be out of your control. You own this, too. You will take initiative to maintain and improve this area. You are also taking responsibility and accountability for the execution and follow-through on items in this area.

With ownership comes responsibility. With responsibility comes accountability. With accountability comes reward for positive progress (and negatives when things fail). Rewards may include expanded influence, additional responsibilities, duties, and tasks. It may mean that you have impact in more areas. It may also mean that you will be rewarded with raises and promotions. Most companies reward those who are proactive in spotting issues, finding the root cause of problems, and moving toward solutions.

The Negatives of Taking Ownership

You can and will be blamed for things going wrong. You may see negative attitudes for systems failures. Everyone will tell you how to do your job better. (Actually, this happens even if you do not take ownership of areas.) Tech Managers often have a target on their backs. It comes with the job description. So why not take an ownership attitude and grab the reigns? At least then you are the master of your own fate. And as Tech Managers you already have the talent, training, and skills to do the job. If you do not take ownership, you will derail the rewards that you deserve as others may take credit, and you still are open to blame.

When you avoid taking ownership of an area, task, or process, others will notice. They will see that you fail to step forward or that you actually take a step back from the responsibility of that scope. When this happens, you will be seen as avoiding accountability, deflecting blame, or just being lazy. Consistently avoiding ownership will eventually create an environment where others no longer offer you the opportunity to expand your role. Never say, “That’s not my job.” It might open a door for others to take on your tasks and soon may get you replaced.  Not good.

In my opinion, of all of the perspectives a Tech Manager should have, the one below is near the top of the list.

Every Project Is Mine

Tech Managers should act like every project is their responsibility. Each file belongs to them. Every model is their model. Every office is their office. Improving everyone's productivity is their goal.

Taking an ownership attitude for everything that CAD/BIM touches is what a Tech Manager should be all about. Every piece of hardware, every procedure and process is theirs. Every standard, every layer, every linetype. It all belongs to the Tech Manager.

Moving Toward Ownership

In the book The Oz Principle: Getting Results Through Individual and Organizational Accountability, authors Roger Connors, Tom Smith, and Craig Hickman share that "taking personal accountability means making a personal choice to rise above one’s circumstances and demonstrate the ownership necessary for achieving desired results; to see it, own it, solve it and do it.”

When Tech Managers move toward another level of ownership they should do it before others “assign them” this task. By taking on more than they are expected to oversee, they show initiative. Seeking responsibility increases their value. Those who are responsible for more areas prove to be more valuable to the firm.

Tech Managers who avoid taking on additional responsibility end up shedding it. They move farther and farther from the core of the business and out to the fringes. By doing this they are making themselves targets for possibly “transitioning away from the company.” This means being sacked, canned, terminated, or fired, whatever term you want to use. A CAD/BIM Manager wants to be moving toward ownership, not away from it. If you deflect responsibility, it ends up resting on someone else’s shoulders.

Don’t Try to Own Everything

You may have an attitude of ownership for many things, but go gently when it encroaches on other staffers’ areas of oversight. Taking ownership is a feeling of responsibility and bottom-line decision making for something. It is not just taking control. Don’t be a bully, a squatter, or a usurper. You do not actually own everything. There are others in the firm that “own” things, too. Ask to be invited in. Seek to help others. Assist where you are welcomed and stay away from areas that seem to be closed off. No one likes to have someone “take control” of their area.

Tech Management is all about seeking, accepting, and embracing responsibility. Expand your area of influence by gathering responsibility for more and taking ownership of all tech issues within your firm.

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