I got a lesson in sense of ownership this weekend. I went to pick up my son from Space Camp and decided to spend the afternoon with him in the space museum. We saw plenty of interesting things, and he had a great time at camp, but when it came to the staff, they were all over the board in terms of service. It was clear to see the people who connected to visitors, engaged them, and encouraged them to try this or that simulator. There were also a fair number who were clueless, and I realized that they lacked ownership of their job.
For example, I was under the impression that when you picked your kid up from Summer Camp that the entrance to the museum on the day of pick up would be free. The guy at the ticket counter said that’s only for Friday pick-ups, not if you come on Saturday. A more empowered staff member would have clearly understood that I’d already paid an extra $75 for my son to stay an extra night and that “his graduation” is effectively on Saturday. Oh well, I just paid my $50 and went in.
At lunch I asked for a cup for my son and I to split a bottle of water. The staff response was “they charge for the that.” It was the “they” that struck me—she was clearly not owning the policies of the concessions (and she was the manager.)
By contrast, the guy who ran the flight simulator, Shaggy, totally owned his job. He saw my son looking at the simulator and engaged him right away. By the time we got around to the fact that is was an extra $5 to do the simulator, I didn’t even care. The next half-hour topped everything else in the museum—not just because the simulator was cool, but Shaggy related to my son, spoke to him on his level, and complimented him on his newly acquired flying skills.
By the time we were done, Shaggy had convinced my son that next year, he should choose the Aviation Challenge over the Robotics Track. And he informed us that if we sign up before September we get a $200 discount. Way to lock us in while the memory is fresh, Shaggy! Now that’s ownership.
If you’re interested in more dialog on the sense of ownership, check out the book, The Ownership Quotient, to learn how to instill the sense of ownership with staff even in tough economic times.
As for me, I am going to get my son signed up for that Aviator Challenge and take advantage of the alumni discount. Thanks, Shaggy.