Entrepreneurs enjoy an almost mythical standing in the business world as visionary leaders risking everything on an idea that, if successful, pays off in a big way. Yet, few understand the role of the intrapreneur; those who have equally big ideas, but operate in the context of established companies. Your business likely has dynamic intrapreneurs in your midst, but how do you make sure their voices are heard?
Intrapreneurs are employees that have the ability to see beyond the task at hand. They see the big picture in correlation with the goals of the company and they’re inclined to come up with progressive ideas that will benefit the entire company, including your bottom line.
Tim Beerman, CTO at Ensono, provides CIO with a good profile of an intrapreneur that business owners will find valuable. “These are the employees who want to get their hands dirty and are often the first people to volunteer for a job. Intrapreneurs are not content with the status quo. They often see how things could be part of a bigger picture and come up with ideas to realize this new vision." With this description in mind, can you think of anybody in your office that has intrapreneural tendencies?
To assist you further with identifying intrapreneurs and understanding how valuable they can be for your company, consider the following:
- Intrapreneurs motivate those around them, challenging others with a fresh perspective and honest feedback.
- Intrapreneurs are loyal and always look for ways to instill positive change in their organization.
- Intrapreneurs have the drive and skills necessary to be successful outside of your business, yet they choose to stay and use their skills to grow your company.
- Intrapreneurs consistently challenge the current business model and invite disruption, motivated by wanting to see the company improve.
- Intrapreneurs have the ability to spot inefficiencies in the workplace and they’re willing to introduce unconventional ideas and take risks in order to resolve issues.
Identifying intrapreneurs should be easy enough; they’re motivated, loyal, and think outside the box. The challenge then for business owners is what to do with them? It may also be a challenge for business owners to embrace such an employee and their ideas, instead of feeling threatened if they come up with a way of doing something that’s better than the way it’s always been done.
How can you take intrapreneurs seriously in such a way that encourages them to step up and share their ideas? It’s crucial that you have communication channels in place that allow for this. Otherwise, the employee’s “intrapreneurial spirit” will be crushed, they’ll see no value in speaking up, and they’ll either put in the minimal effort required to perform their job or move on to another company that values their ideas. Or, worse yet, the ignored intrapreneur will find the motivation needed to become an entrepreneur and start a new company that grows to become a major competitor of yours. Yikes!
When it comes to making sure that intrapreneurs have their voices heard and their good ideas implemented, IT professionals can be of assistance. Beerman explains, "An intrapreneur might see inefficiencies within his or her company's workflow, but may not necessarily have the experience to fully develop a solution. The IT department can then act as a partner to find the right recommendation. When intrapreneurs and IT teams are communicating regularly, there are more windows of opportunity for collaboration. Innovation and collaboration will eventually become business as usual, once initial bridges are crossed."
Implementing this kind of collaboration between intrapreneurs and your IT department may require a major shift in your company culture. Although, seeing how intrapreneurs have the potential to bring some substantial ideas to the table, it’s a change that you can’t afford to put off. To get started with implementing communication solutions for your office that ensures ideas flow freely and everybody on your team has a voice, call the IT professionals at Directive today at 607.433.2200.