18 November 2016
Unlock the potential of your "intrepreneurs"
How to spot and unlock the intrepreneurs in your business
Your organisation has a secret weapon. An unlocked treasure trove of riches. An army of potential workplace superheroes, who can improve your efficiency, maximise your output and transform your company into a happier, more productive place. And what’s more, all of this is lying right under your nose, whether you’re a small business, educational establishment or multinational conglomerate.
We’re talking about the workers who meet, exceed, even confound your expectations daily. Those who quietly get on with the job and are not afraid to think outside the box in order to move their ideas forward. We’re talking about “intrepreneurs” – a breed of employee, who works with energising, entrepreneurial spirit inside an organisation for the benefit of all.
What is an “intrepreneur”?
Unlike traditional entrepreneurs, who act alone in launching a brand or business off the back of their own ideas, “intrepreneurs”, or entrepreneurs “inside”, are individuals within an organisation who work with that same go-getting, energetic approach. Ambitious, creative and often inspiring, these employees are often quiet hard-workers, who feel the need to restrain their enthusiasm for fear of upsetting the company’s corporate image or drawing attention to themselves.
The potential of these individuals, however, is immense and when harnessed effectively, their skills and talents can be transformative: launching new ideas or product lines, training others, streamlining company systems – the possibilities are endless.
And let’s not make the mistake of thinking entrepreneurially-minded employees are all about driving up profits, because they can have an impact in any organisation, making a real difference for the greater good. Spot them, use them and, crucially, retain them and you and your business will reap the rewards.
How do I spot intrepreneurs in my organisation?
The intrepreneur lurking in your staffroom may be the keenest and most passionate about their work but they may not immediately be the most obvious. Indeed, they may even be reticent, quiet and introverted with a natural reluctance to “go it alone”, unlike the traditional entrepreneur. They may be at their happiest when they’re working on a team project or other collective activity.
Similar to the classic entrepreneur, however, an intrepreneur will possess a great many personal strengths. Conscientious and diligent, they will complete their work to the best of their ability and not be put off when mistakes are made, using them instead as a valuable learning experience. You can rely on them to challenge themselves, try new approaches and always be looking for improvements in their output. Intrepreneurs are also those natural risk-takers in the company, unafraid of uncertainty and always ready to take a calculated chance on something they believe in.
How do I harness the potential of my intrepreneurs?
Once you’ve spotted the intrepreneurs in your organisation, it’s important that you take steps to unlock their potential, both for the good of the business as a whole and for the continuing professional development of the individual. Regardless of their seniority or experience, give them responsibility for something. It could be something as small as organising a team social event or fundraiser, but once their experience and confidence grows, you can utilise their skills further.
Get your intrepreneurs working and interacting with other parts of the business. If they are dealing with the workings of the company, for instance, give them a more customer-facing role from time to time and see them blossom. Encourage them to invest in themselves as employees: arrange training, webinars and conferences where best practice can be shared. And most importantly, ensure that your organisation fosters an atmosphere of openness and mutual respect where, no matter what the position held, your employees feel able and encouraged to share ideas, question processes and take ownership over the future of the business.
What can I do as an employer?
As a leader, it’s important that you set an example of the kind of work-ethic you are trying to foster. Be open with your employees and engage with them constantly. Give continuous, open, honest and constructive feedback and this will encourage a more two-way, discursive line of communication between you and your workers. This way of managing will also help to develop and bring on the skills of those employees who may lack some of the entrepreneurial skills we have been discussing here.
It also goes without saying that, when your intrepreneurs come up with great ideas or key business initiatives, you will be sure to celebrate their results and reward them as appropriate.
Retaining and recruiting: moving your company forward
By taking time to understand the talents and skills of intrepreneurs in your workforce and by focusing on helping them achieve both their individual and collective potential, you really can take your organisation from strength to strength.
A forward-thinking company always has one eye on the future too and it’s certainly a good idea to look for these dynamic, entrepreneurial skills in potential employees during the recruitment process. Perhaps create some team tasks about risk-taking or focus your interview questions on candidates’ zeal for a challenge or how they would go about making positive changes to your organisation’s working culture.
This article originally appeared on Hays Viewpoint – a careers advice blog