Devyani Vaishampayan, global HR business partner at Rolls Royce Marine Services, says employers need to leverage on young and entrepreneurial-minded employees for the best interests of the company.
One of the distinct trends we are seeing currently is the desire for many young, upwardly mobile professionals to set up their own business. This is particularly true for many of the identified “high-potential” employees in large corporations.
Increasingly, the very qualities organisations demand from employees to be self-starters – that is, coming up with innovative ideas, networking externally and internally and working via partnerships and collaboration – are the same ones needed by entrepreneurs to set up a successful business. So how should organisations handle this issue and retain their pool of talent?
A recent post on the Harvard Business Review blog drew an interesting distinction between two types of people: entrepreneur-minded people (EMPs) and serial entrepreneurs (SEs). SEs are what we think of as traditional entrepreneurs. They have a desire to own their own businesses, are highly individualistic, want to be in control and have a “sense of urgency”.
EMPs share some characteristics of traditional entrepreneurs, but are happier within a company while working with a group toward a goal. They like organisation, consistency, and working in teams. It is this group of people that organisations should focus on.
The effort should revolve around installing the EMPs with confidence to think, behave and act like entrepreneurs in the best interest of the company.
Here are some ways to develop and retain the EMPs in your organisation:
· Start with consciously hiring a small number of EMPs, different from the traditional mould of the rest of your employees.
· Give them a problem and ask them to come up with ideas for a new product, service or way of doing things.
· Ask them to create a business case and let them figure out how to achieve it.
· Make sure failure is considered normal and, when failure occurs, ensure the focus is on problem-solving and learning from the experience, rather than apportioning blame
· Tie rewards to their accomplishments via a bonus or pay-for-performance structure.
A majority of companies in the UK (71%) don’t have a platform for such contributions to be made, and the statistics for Singapore may not be much better. However, here are some examples of how this is already being done in a few organisations:
· L.’Oreal has been focussed on building teams of “intrapreneurs”, encouraging a new breed of employee who can practise all the entrepreneurialism they like, but within the security of full-time employment. Employees are encouraged to come up with very new ideas and demonstrate it can be a viable business.
· Shutterstock has teams dedicated to new business. Their newest brand to emerge from this process is ‘Skillfeed”, an online learning site with crowd sourced video tutorials. The Skillfeed team is small and relatively autonomous within the company, giving them the freedom to innovate.
· Siemens has introduced a programme which rewards employees with the “entrepreneur” tag after they have completed it.
· Through his Virgin companies, Sir Richard Branson has created a supportive environment aimed at encouraging the best from entrepreneur-minded employees seeking to pitch their ideas.
Good examples of corporate entrepreneurial leaders include Steve Jobs of Apple in the tech sector, Michael Spencer of ICAP in finance and Sir Martin Sorrel of WWP in marketing. Perhaps the greatest of the 20th century was Konusuke Matsushita who encouraged his executives to “think like an entrepreneur, not a hired hand” which led to the creation of numerous brands including Panasonic.
Corporate entrepreneurship allows employees to gain greater job satisfaction because they are able to exercise their creativity; take a leadership position, build their credibility, and make a meaningful impact on the business, all within a reasonably safe environment.
Additionally, it creates a more viable pool of leaders for the future.