With over 20 years committed to building competitiveness in business and industry through designing and implementing strategies to improve performance, Paul Hodgson understands the importance of intrapreneurialism not just in big business, but at a SME level as well.
“I have always felt that the best businesses have employees who think and act like owners. That means that they are not simply clocking on and off each day, but truly thinking about how the business can be better at every opportunity,” Paul said.
Intrapreneurs ask questions, they are curious and not afraid of speaking up. They have a talent for picking up on the things that others may miss, such as a process that could use improvement, feedback that should be taken seriously or an opportunity for collaboration or innovation.
“These qualities are critical to the long-term success of an FSME for a number of reasons. For the staff members, it drives a sense of purpose and belonging. For the business owner, it means you have a team of staff who also want the best for the business, coming up with new innovations that can be implemented to drive continual business productivity, competitiveness and growth,” he said.
This sense of purpose and belonging, coupled with an intrapreneurs innate sense of curiosity and drive, that can create massive potential for positive change within a business.
Intrapreneurialism not only works to improve immediate outcomes, but ensures a business is future-ready by creating opportunities for expansion of the business or succession planning. With great staff on board who are committed to the wellbeing of the business and who equally feel supported in their endeavours, opening a new branch, extending operations to another sector or (when the time is right) handing the mantle on becomes a much less stressful reality.
However, in order to achieve growth and improved competitiveness in the small business world, both parties (employer and intrapreneur) must be able to work together in a mutually beneficial way.
Encouraging intrapreneurship within SMEs and family-run businesses revolves around fostering trust in leadership, support and open communication with the team. It is important to avoid a culture of control and authority where an intrapreneur is seen as a threat, rather than a key member of the team who genuinely has the best interests of the business in mind.
“From an organisational perspective, it is important to create a culture of openness, honesty, transparency and reward that keeps the ideas flowing. Being dismissive, aloof or critical, particularly at early stages, can stifle intrapreneurialism and either lead to intrapreneurs departing the business or simply staying and keeping quiet,” Paul said.
“My experience of intrapreneurs is that they often prefer working as part of a team and can have a higher need for career and job security than entrepreneurs.”
Paul’s suggestion for encouraging intrapreneurialism in FSMEs is to include some light and transparent structuring around innovation, taking into consideration ideation, execution and evaluation. This helps the intrapreneur feel valued while guiding the flow of ideas in the right direction.
Aligning the organisation’s vision with core goals and strategies that give focus to intrapreneurial activities is also useful in business development, as is encouraging employees to spend time on their own pursuits to build autonomy and clear, fresh thinking.
“Intrapreneurialism is really about unlocking what is known as ‘discretionary effort’. If your employees come to work to be the best they can be and to work with other people to achieve purposeful team goals, then your organisation is tapping into higher levels of motivation, commitment and creativity to drive productivity,” Paul summarised.
Paul currently works as General Manager, Innovation and Stakeholder Engagement (East Coast) for the National Energy Resources Australia industry growth centre. His primary role is to collaborate with stakeholders to increase the productivity, competitiveness and export potential within the energy resources sector. He has a Bachelor of International Business, a Master of Sustainable Development and has recently commenced a part-time PhD in Small to Medium Enterprise Succession.
*Paul is a speaker at the Australian
Intrapreneurs Summit on 14th of March, Brisbane Convention Centre. www.AustralianIntrapreneursSummit.com.au