How to get your employees thinking like entrepreneurs

How to get your employees thinking like entrepreneurs

Many businesses are using different types of strategies to increase employee engagement and retention. These often involve opportunities like stretch assignments which provide increased visibility and profile within the company. Reward and recognition programs are another strategy employers use to motivate and retain their best and brightest. However, an article published in the Harvard Business Review by Bill and Ron Bonnstetter argues that employee engagement and retention will increase dramatically when employees are treated like entrepreneurs.

Bonnstetter & Bonnstetter conducted research which indicates there are two different types of entrepreneurs: Entrepreneurial minded people (EMP’s) and Serial Entrepreneurs (SE’s). The key characteristics of EMP’s are that they enjoy consistency, have an organised workplace and work well in teams. SE’s operate as individuals but have a great sense of urgency and a desire to control.

So what does this mean exactly?

Key characteristics of entrepreneurs are that they tend to be ‘out of the box’ thinkers who tackle tasks efficiently and waste no time solving problems and finding solutions. These are qualities that can add enormous value to any business. There are probably employees within your business already that possess some of these qualities and just require the right support and guidance to inspire their entrepreneurial spirit. Another alternative is to employ an entrepreneur (known as an ‘intrapreneur’ to work on a project or solution to a problem.

Ask employees to innovate

Ask employees to innovate

To get your employees thinking like an entrepreneur, Rieva Lesonsky from advises employers to nurture employees by asking them to innovate. Examples of this might be:

  • Ask them to come up with a solution to a problem that the business is facing
  • Appoint them as a leader to a team

Many businesses have a BHAG (big hairy audacious goal) that they want to achieve. Like any goal, innovative and unexpected thinking is often required to find a solution.

So what does your business need to do to support intrapeneurs?

The number 1 factor that helps develop entrepreneur spirit is empowerment, says Heather Huhman, author of the article ‘6 Steps for Converting Employees Into Intrapreneurs’. This means ensuring that employees have the right training, resources and support systems, then giving them freedom to meet their accountabilities according to their own volition. Other factors that contribute to developing intrapeneurs is strong camaraderie, namely well-developed working relationships with other staff members. According to Hugman, when ideas are low, the fuel to keep going will come from strong working relationships. Other factors that help develop an entrepreneurial spirit is actively being encouraged to think outside the square. Ways to encourage this are to regularly hold brainstorming sessions in areas that may be outside of the experience of employees.

For support in developing your employees, speak to the HR Consulting team at Flexi Personnel.