People who want to have an impact in their industry, solve problems, be challenged, focus on creativity, and enjoy their work don’t always have to go out on their own as entrepreneurs to make this happen. Instead, the growing trend of intrapreneurship, or “inside entrepreneurs” who use entrepreneurial skills within the company they work for, is showing how so many advances can be internal.
Intrapreneurship leads to pluses for everyone involved. It creates a more productive, committed, loyal, engaged, and innovative workforce for businesses, while for employees, it means more enjoyable, satisfying work plus access to more resources and support.
The owners and managers of firms must take steps to encourage intrapreneurship and make it realistic for team members to go down this path. Here are some steps to take to support intrapreneurship in your business today.
HAVE A DIFFERENT MINDSET
Thinking of your staff as ‘simple employees’ is such a limiting mindset which can permeate your office. Instead, maintain a healthy, communicative, respectful working environment where employees feel they’re an essential part of the business.
Give people the chance to work on tasks their own way within deadlines, and encourage them to come to you with ideas and insights. Listen to feedback and enact as much as possible of it, to help everyone feel they’re making a difference and are valued and heard. The more people get the impression they’re part of the team and can have a say, the more quickly they will turn into intrapreneurs.
Similarly, avoid micro-managing. Hire the right people for positions, give them any training they require, and then let them go ahead and do their job without being constantly under close supervision.
You should still be available to answer questions or provide guidance, but grant your team the opportunity to complete tasks using their own preferred approaches first. This is how productivity often rises within firms.
When staff members have the chance to think freely and work without significant constraints, they can come up with innovative, elegant ways to do things that wouldn’t have arisen if they were told exactly how to move forward.
GIVE WORKERS FREEDOM
Find ways to give your workers freedom in other ways, too. Provide opportunities for employees to make their own decisions about things regularly. They might choose the types of tasks they complete, the order they tackle things in, the training they do, when and where they work, and even the actual job they do.
Allow people to move around the business trying new things, as this fosters creativity, develops leaders for the future, and leads to discoveries of previously unnoticed problems. Consider letting people choose who they work with on projects, too, or move people around teams. Encourage “crosspollination”, where employees from various teams, disciplines, and even locations come together to work on projects. The diverse knowledge and skills that come together in these arrangements have big benefits.
Furthermore, allow staff members in customer-related jobs to have some freedom in how they take care of clients. For example, give them a certain amount of money they can spend to resolve customer issues and leave it up to them how they achieve this. Doing this not only makes your team feel more empowered and in control, which boosts engagement, but also makes customers happier and reduces the need for managers to approve employee actions constantly.
It’s also important to make it clear to staff members that their company prioritises innovation. (You have to then follow through on this, though.) When people know it’s part of their job description to think outside of the box and try new things, they won’t be so afraid to take a risk.
As long as managers never punish workers for risks that don’t pan out – this trial and error is a necessary component of the process – employees will feel like they have ownership within the business and will eventually come up with ideas and solutions that can revolutionise the business.
If and when intrapreneurs make mistakes, have teams come together to solve issues collaboratively and learn what to do differently next time. Also, make sure you acknowledge and thank workers who take risks and try something new, so they and the rest of the team feel freer to be creative in the future.