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A Company of Owners: 5 Ways to Promote Intrapreneurship in Every Employee

Sep 19, 2017 7:27:00 AM / by Riia O'Donnell

intraprenuers kintone business apps.pngWhat if everyone who worked for you treated their job like they owned the company?

What if they took ownership for their work and actively sought ways to be more productive, more inventive, and more valuable to your firm? Imagine what your company could achieve. Most companies wish their staff members took the same pride of ownership they hold, but few get that result without taking active steps to get there. 

The cutting edge of innovation is no longer a matter of luck or being in the right place at the right time. Cutting edge innovation is made not found – and for companies large and small it can begin with cutting a path to intrapreneurial thinking.  Those who do the work know best how it can be done. But for too long, companies quashed suggestions and innovation from the front lines with the “we’ve always done it this way” mantra.

Apart from missing out on the potential for innovation, that management style also quashes engagement. Employees who know their opinions are valued and acted upon are happier at work, stoke innovation, and perform at higher levels than their un-engaged counterparts. One study points to a 12 percent increase in productivity. Creating intrapreneurial opportunities in your company is a win-win for everyone.

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Why isn’t such a win-win scenario the norm? The answer may be less about wanting the outcome and more about not knowing how to navigate to get there. Finding ways to promote intrapreneurship includes looking at the ways you stifle it.  

Size Doesn’t Matter

It’s not in the cards for every member of your team to reinvent the wheel. Even the everyday things we take for granted have the potential for improvement. In an ever-evolving tech landscape, there are always new tools available to make our jobs easier or do things more effectively. Even minor issues with project management, workflow, or communications can keep your team from working to their optimum. Look for available tools to improve on systems you may not have even considered. 

Keeping an eye out for the little improvements is just as important as looking for the large ones. Encourage employees to take the time to seek better ways to do even the smallest tasks; giving them more time to focus on the larger issues. 

We Grow from Our Mistakes

From the time they try their first step, we encourage our children to try new things and make mistakes. We tell them the only thing wrong with a mistake is being afraid to make one. For most people, the paycheck marks the end of that mindset. Knowing a mistake won’t earn you a “you’ll never work in this town again!” response opens the door to learning and growth.

Daring to take risks is daring to innovate. Potential mistakes are potential opportunities to expand. Employers can promote critical thinking and risk taking only when they remove the penalties for failure and promote the potential for knowledge and growth.  

Critiquing employees on the small things will stop them from taking risks on the large ones. Find opportunities, especially in failures, to reward attempts at improvement. You’ll encourage intrapreneurship and open the door to intrapreneurship.

Deconstruct Failure, Successfully

For ideas that don’t pan out, take time to understand where the idea missed the mark. Analyze why it didn’t work. For some ideas, you may find the side road that veered wrong and get back on track. In others, you’ll see where not to go for solutions in the future.     

Make deconstruction a positive experience. You’re not there to criticize but to collaboratively analyze. Reward the forward-thinking and find ways, if possible, to make it successful. If not, encourage the employee to go back to square one for another solution.

Plant Seeds

Managers and coworkers have endless opportunities every day to plant the seed for intrapreneurship. Conversations about what’s not working, what’s driving you crazy, and what needs to be fixed are common workplace fodder. Rather than focusing on what’s going wrong, sow the seeds of innovation. Whatever the issue – encourage the employee/team to look for solutions. For every problem there is a solution: either someone’s already encountered and solved it, or you could be on the cusp of something big. It all starts with the seeds of problem solving.

Make Time to Innovate

It’s all well and good to tell staffers to look for solutions, but allowing them time to do so is critical. We can’t expect our employees to work from home. If there’s something that has an impact on what they do or how, allow them the time to search for tools and solutions that might get the job done. Ask them to set aside a block of time away from their normal duties to research the issue and present some solutions. In many cases, your employees already know there’s an answer out there – they were just waiting for someone to ask them to source it.

Creating a company of intrapreneurs begins with opening the door to risk as well as ideas. Giving them permission to fail in the race for innovation is key. Ask your employees to take ownership of not just what they do, but how they do it, as well. It could position your firm on the cutting edge of innovation.  

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Topics: Digital Transformation, Teamwork, Company Culture

Riia O'Donnell

Written by Riia O'Donnell

Riia O’Donnell has over 20 year’s hands-on experience in all aspects of the Human Resource function. Beginning as a recruiter, she grew to lead in all areas of HR, including employee training and development, legal compliance, benefits administration, compensation evaluation, and staff management. She has been a contributing writer for a wealth of HR, training, and small business websites for the past 7 years.

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