מורן ג'ובני לרה // July 17, 2019

Once you’re done with the hardships of recruitment and the onboarding period, comes the time to retain the human capital you worked so hard to gather. So you shower them with benefits and the best conditions you can think of, you take them out on vacations, and give them fat juicy paychecks. But will this keep them from leaving?

Intra-organizational entrepreneurship – there’s an entrepreneur in each and every one of us

Renowned behavioral economics professor Dan Arieli claimed in one of his most viral TED lectures that occupational satisfaction is a derivative of an employee’s sense of purpose. Companies that promote feelings of significance among employees, will see an increase in employee satisfaction, which in turn paves the way to high motivation and excellent performance. When it comes to the choice between significance and a raise, you might want to keep in mind that purpose and significance are growing increasingly more attractive.

Purpose… Where do you get that?

Different companies take a variety of approaches to generate that desired feeling among their employees. Daring and successful companies harness their employees’ need for a sense of purpose to their own benefit. A profound understanding that the key to purpose is, among other things, people’s basic desire to have an impact on the world, has led to intra-organizational entrepreneurship.

The basic approach of such organizations is ‘ask for an inch – get a mile’; let your employees take initiative and be proactive in their work, and you’ll gain employees who take responsibility, see the big picture and work to improve your organization. Express your trust in your employees, empower them, and you’ll gain their genuine involvement and commitment, and maybe even an added financial value.

Any company will be happy to tell you it’s anecdote about an employee who proposed a brilliant idea, and the CEO who immediately gave them a promotion. The question is, is this an exception or common practice? This is in fact common practice in some companies, that even took it to the next level by putting in place a system to encourage such behavior, with numerous examples:

Google told its employees that they may devote 20% of their time to new projects that will benefit the company as they see fit. Although each project requires a manager’s approval and a budget, this initiative conveys a strong message to company employees: dream and take initiative – we want to hear what you have to offer. Indeed, some of the company’s most successful and interesting products were conceived out of this approach; from Gmail to the archival documentation of the Dead Sea Scrolls.

A large Israeli retail company, where we conducted an executive development program, decided as part of the program to offer its employees a project named ‘pick up the gauntlet’. As part of this project, junior managers were asked to come up with ideas for improving the company’s operations. The managers worked in pairs, conducted studies within the organization and offered creative ideas: from a special purse designed to ease the collection of money by distributors, to new processes for transporting merchandise in remote locations.

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Deutsche Telekom has set up a technological incubator by the name of UQBATE for its employees, which provides them with a framework for entrepreneurship, and a place to give their minds a break from regular work to come up with innovations for the telecom market. UQBATE provides mentoring, training and funding for selected projects.

Israeli high-tech company Payoneer holds a yearly Hackathon, where employees can present their ideas for improving efficiency and well-being in their work environment, and even develop the technology to that end. One useful product conceived in a Hackathon is an app to help employees locate parking spots in the building.

Payoneer employees demonstrating passion and entrepreneurship in their special Hackathon. (Picture by Payoneer)

These examples illustrate that intra-organizational entrepreneurship is a useful tool for all industries and that the specific industry is not as crucial as the corporate worldview.

So, how do you introduce such entrepreneurship in your organization? Here are some tips:

  1. One step at a time – there’s no need to rush and establish this as a new regular practice in the company. Start with small steps, for example, run a pilot in one of the departments.
  2. Step out of your comfort zone – organizations and anyone for that matter should stand by their word. Therefore, when an organization asks its employees to take initiative, it must carefully examine each idea, including ones that may seem a little different, strange or unclear at first. Entrepreneurship is nothing without innovation, and innovation, as you probably already know, pushes you out of your comfort zone.
  3. Make a big deal out of this new initiative – to inculcate a new behavior, you must place it at the heart of your company. Advertise this new move and its anticipated impact on your organization. Don’t worry if you did not succeed at first. Learn from your mistakes and keep going. Once you succeed, advertise this outside the company – this will improve your image as an attractive employer.
  4. Timing is everything – you may want to wait for the perfect time for this new concept and project. Don’t drop it on your employees out of the blue but prepare them for this new and different mindset – it’ll be much more effective when they’re ready.

 

Do you wish to move forward? Do you want to lead change in your company but are not sure if it’s the right time or the right method for you? Consult our experts! Contact us and we will be happy to meet, advise and support you in the process!

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