In an earlier post I talk about what it takes to keep your top talent. One thing I talk about there is giving your team members, even the junior ones, ownership over a specific section of your organization.

I am not talking about equity here. I am talking about a part of the product, or a set of tasks. Think about it from your team's viewpoint. If you feel like you are just another cog in a machine then it is unlikely you will put in any extra effort beyond what it takes to not get fired.

In contrast if you have a specific section that you can stand up in front of the company and investors say is your baby then you will work all the harder to make sure that section is a success.

The risks:

This can be risky with new hires, you don't know their where their strengths are or their level of commitment. Giving them ownership of any significant part of your product could lead to disaster if they fail to deliver.

The answer:

This is why I don't recommend giving ownership of your product for new or junior level hires. Here are some of the criteria I want you to use when you are thinking about what to give your new hires ownership of:

  • Only visible internally
  • Not vital to your core product
  • Still has value to your team
  • Does not require a long ramp up cost or learning new skills
  • Allows them to follow their passions

Keep these criteria in mind as you decide what to give them ownership over.

Fuel their passions:

Passion is something I talk about a lot and is a powerful thing. When you are bringing on a new team member ask them "What are you passionate about?" If you allow them to follow their passions you will be amazed at what they will accomplish. Here are some ideas of initiatives you can assign people with various passions:


Have them set up a monthly book club. They can start by going around to the different members of your team getting book recommendations then, start building your organization's library. Another idea is to have them write up a brief book report of the book of the month and post it to get other team members interested.


If your new hire is a fitness fanatic or a meat head, why not put them in charge of organizing a morning jogging group? If they love yoga, how about having them lead a mid-afternoon stretch that will get your team members out of their desks and out of that mid afternoon slump.


This is something a lot of companies do so I won't need to say much on this. If your new hire loves to help people-first, they are a great hire, put them in charge of organizing your philanthropic events.


Let's be honest "partying" is some people passion. Why fight it? If that is what they are good at, have them organize the holiday party. If they know how to grill and have a passion for BBQ then put them in charge of the company picnic for grilling.

Added Value:

While your new hires are out there working to set up this new initiative they are meeting the other team members building relationships and becoming part of your community. As I said in that other post feeling like you are part of a community makes a big difference in your decision to leave or stay.

Tips and Tricks:

Start them on this the first week:

Don't wait, but don't overwhelm them on the first day. Make sure they know what they are supposed to be working on, how much time they are to delegate to it, and introduce them to any key individuals to work with on their new initiative.

Groups are great:

Telling a new hire to go out there and start something new in a larger organization can be daunting. Group them with your more veteran team members to guide them and help open doors.

Be creative:

I have outlined only a small about of initiatives you can give your team, both old and new, ownership over. Be creative. More importantly give your team the freedom to be creative. You don't need to think of all of the great ideas.

This is a Field Test:

This is a great way for you to see how your new hire fairs is in a real project. How do they deal with problems? People? Can they finish that last 10% or will they stop short? This allows you to see how they react before you throw them in with the customer.


Don't be afraid to give you team ownership from day one, this will lead to amazing results. Just be smart about what you give them ownership of.

Help my team is jumping ship! - How to keep your top talent

About the author