Investing In Innovators: Planting The Entrepreneurial Seed At Your Company
Change is the only constant. In recent years, businesses have had to adapt and transform their methods of functioning in order to keep pace with advancements in technology, such as artificial intelligence in the workplace, changes in effective work arrangements, and the increasingly diverse preferences of today’s professionals. It is beyond doubt that future work environments will continue to transform, and become very different from what they look like today. However, the rise of these new technologies, the demand for higher autonomy at work, and the quest for an environment that fosters creativity and development, all have one aspect in common that not every business may have already picked on.
That common factor is: the entrepreneurial seed. The shared economy model is creating thousands of entrepreneurs every day. Tech companies rely on their own employee-entrepreneurs to lead various new products and divisions. The increasing shift towards flexible work arrangements is boosting autonomous work models with multiplied room to create and produce.
Yet, it is starting to feel harder for companies to distinguish themselves from other players in their industries, or to attract and retain top quality candidates. And that is because businesses are often fixated on incremental and reactive responses to particular trends, such as calls for flexible hours. In order for businesses to push past this stage of subdued potential, they need to consider a new approach in securing their talent, and developing their employees. Businesses need to implement an entrepreneurial mindset- a localized ecosystem where each and every employee thinks of the business as that of their own. Take a step back and think about your organization’s talent management strategies. Does it include set procedures built to encourage growth and development of employees’ skills? If it does, that’s absolutely great. But the question is that is it enough in today’s landscape? The reality of the matter is that many other organizations also already do that, but are still lacking the optimum drive and momentum.
Many employers nowadays are shifting their focus towards developing their employees’ mindsets and behaviors, as well as considering that of candidates when hiring. What are they looking for exactly? They’re looking for individuals who think, act, and work like entrepreneurs, but aren’t necessarily always entrepreneurs by education or profession. People with a go-getter attitude, who are self-initiators, and who do not shy away from a challenge are in high demand. Managing a team can be very time-consuming, where managers usually need to guide and track their employees on a regular basis, and thus causing a major opportunity cost. The cost being time and effort that employers could have spent on more pressing issues such as catching up with the latest industry trends, brainstorming, or strategizing future initiatives. But instead, valuable hours are spent handling the logistical and mundane managerial responsibilities.
With employees who think and operate like entrepreneurs, this issue disappears. Such professionals are able to take responsibility of their tasks, and lead their way through them until they are done and deliver worthy results. Not only that, they also strategize, optimize, evaluate, and take action accordingly. They are the ones who truly invest their full capacity, instead of simply going through the checklist. So, how can employers build and encourage the entrepreneurial spirit of their employees?
Here are some quick ways to get started:
1. Set clear expectations
Employers who want to empower their employees to be independent and self- regulate their work should set clear goals and objectives from the get-go. That starts with giving employees something to aim for: something Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Timebound (SMART). Not only do the goals need to be laid out clearly, and in a challenging yet realistic manner, they also need to be established in mutual agreement. It is very easy to fall for commands and task lists, but that’s exactly how you stop cultivating entrepreneurship within a team or a company. Make sure that your team fully understands what is expected from them, why it is expected of them, and how they can ultimately grow and impact the bottom line. Paint the complete picture, where each employee is genuinely an essential brick of the larger building, and where each project or task being handled is fundamental for the success of the organization. Most employees want to impress their managers, and want to be recognized for their good work. So, by setting your expectations, they’ll have enough information to manage themselves, and you won’t have to intervene, and spend your time and effort going back and forth and guiding the whole process.
2. Lead by example
It is no secret that employees are highly influenced by their managers. What managers do (and how they do it) can highly impact the behavior and performance of their employees. This is a big reason why, in certain companies, both culture and productivity vary drastically from one team to the other. Managers are looked up to as role models and are on the spotlight most of the time. The good thing is managers can and should actively exhibit entrepreneurial behavior by taking initiative, exploring new projects, owning their work, using delegation for empowerment not evasion, and similar behaviors that infiltrate the team and company.
3. Give time to think
It is very easy to get sucked into the routine at work, when everything seems mechanical and repetitive, there’s no drive to push outside of one’s comfort zone, and creativity and passion take a prolonged break. Managers should encourage their employees to step out of the routine box by offering them with the time and space to think for themselves. This can give employees the chance to think of the value of their work, which can make them look at their work in a different perspective, an entrepreneurial perspective. As only when employees start to understand the value that they are adding to the organization is when they can start to devise new tactics to cut costs and start being more efficient. Doing so should not only occur when there’s something to brainstorm or a challenge to solve. In fact, it might be more beneficial to adopt a proactive approach, and push everyone to think of what is working, is it optimal, what needs to be changed, and what value is being delivered. Organizations with very tight policies tend to create a culture that restricts employees’ ability to think for themselves. And people who aren’t given the chance to think and create simply won’t, which can be a recipe for disaster. If you want your employees to act and operate like entrepreneurs, you’ll need to give them the freedom, trust, and time.
4. Seek them out
Employers looking for someone to join their organization might think that they just need an employee with the right qualifications to get the job done, and that’s it. But very little attention is paid to personality, drive, motivation, entrepreneurial characteristics, potential, and such. Shifting to include the latter components when hiring is an integral component of building the right type of company and talent force. It is important that companies are firstly not limited to small candidate pools. Choice is abundant nowadays- Bayt.com offers a platform with over 36 million CVs to sift through. Secondly, screening and shortlisting must be orchestrated based on qualifications, as well as behavioral and personal traits. Looking for entrepreneurial talent means deploying the correct filters, questionnaires, relevant tests, and assessment measures. During the interview stage, employers can specify their assessment questions to discover the candidate’s way of thinking. They can ask situational, experiential, or personality related questions outside the scope of work of the job at hand, but still have to do with the company at large. This can give employers the chance to get an understanding of what motivates the candidate. People with an entrepreneurial mindset tend to be motivated by the organization’s priorities, activities, and potential areas for improvement and growth. Other companies prepare running rotational programs and mentorships to identify “entrepreneurial” talent early on.
Indeed, there are various other steps that can also support building an entrepreneurial culture within any company. From incubating in-house and products, to enhancing cross-departmental learning opportunities, to endorsing side projects, business can get creative in their endeavor to enhance creativity. But at the end of the day, let’s keep in mind that at the cornerstone of all of this is investing in talent and building effective talent management practices.
This article was originally published on Entrepreneur Middle East and has been reposted on Dubai Startup Hub based on a mutual agreement between the websites. Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.