Which Membership would you like to purchase?
100+ employees: Contact us for enterprise-level membership for your entire team.
Earlier this month, we had the great opportunity to hear Nancy Lyons at Clockwork present on the importance of intrapreneurship during our February monthly event. This was arguably one of the most engaging and interactive presentations we’ve had at our monthly events, leaving many wanting more information. So, we sat down with Nancy to ask her a few more questions on the topic and provide all of you with more insight.
On an organizational level, break down the attributes that make up the big “intrapreneurship” concept and bake the appropriate bits and pieces into your company values. Things like taking initiative, giving everyone a voice, and individuals being responsible for their energy and their contributions, these are values that companies can embrace and integrate without diving head-first into the idea of intrapreneurship.
On a day-to-day level, people at all levels of the organization should talk about the adopted attributes at meetings, in conversations, and within their own work — these components of intrapreneurship should be sprinkled everywhere. Leaders should talk about them all the time so much so that they become part of your brand story. When these pieces become part of the everyday vernacular, fear or tension around change starts to melt away.
You know them when you see them. First, it requires a real investment in the recruitment, interviewing, and hiring processes. For example, you have to have candid conversations with potential candidates. You can start this by having people throughout the organization join the interview process; people with different perspectives read interviewees in very different ways. This allows current employees to share their own experiences with intrapreneurship and bring out questions and insights that lead to a conversation distinct from an “HR” one.
Think hard about what intrapreneur qualities look like in different types of people — introverts and extroverts, sales people and software engineers all exhibit the characteristics in their own ways and move the needle forward in their own ways. This means you can’t have a specific list of “what makes an intrapreneur” and apply it unilaterally across candidates.
When it comes to hiring, only extend job offers when you’re sure of the people. This takes far more time than most people expect, but it’s so critical. And when you bring on the wrong people — people who don’t fit or contribute — deal with it as soon as possible.
Heck yes. Being an intrapreneur doesn’t mean going rogue. Intrapreneurs don’t go off and do their own thing (that’s an entrepreneur) — they step up. They take responsibility and bring their energy to the group. Would you rather be on a team full of people waiting to be told what to do or on a team of people who have strong instincts, want to get stuff done, and make stuff happen?
I’ve often been asked how a team can have a bunch of leaders. But here’s the thing, the most significant quality of an intrapreneur is not waiting to be told what to do. People can do this in different ways and by doing that, they are leaders. They might lead ideas, projects, innovations, people, technology, research, or the myriad other aspects of our work that need someone to own them. Real leaders take on challenges and bring their learnings back to the team. When this happens, everyone wins.
To be honest, the best organizations are chock full of leaders who all want to do something.
The best way to reward them is to notice and give them credit. Intrapreneurs want to know that what they’re doing matters. They tackle worth with purpose — so knowing they are making a difference or creating change resonates with them. By acknowledging and vocalizing their value, you’re confirming their purpose.
I actually have more advice for the intrapreneur: Get to know the established team. Observe their behaviors and functions, understand who they are, and empathize with them. There is nothing worse than someone coming in from the outside and fourteen minutes later deciding that everything you’re doing is wrong, and they’re going to fix it. But, once you do observe the team, have thoughtful, vulnerable conversations. Instead of making it you versus me (broken versus fixed), make change a collaborative endeavor.
When you suggest change, consider the value proposition for the person you’re talking to. Most people think about change from the framework, “What’s in it for me?” Be mindful of that and bring it up right out of the gate. If you approach things with an “all in this together” mindset that’s authentic, you’re far more likely to get people to work with you and to make things better.
For those who might be on the other side — with an intrapreneur coming in — all I can say is: Don’t be defensive or take it personally. Change and new thinking are not an indictment against you. It might make your life better!
Don’t treat it like an initiative; it’s not. Don’t create policies and procedures around it. Intrapreneurship is not a new thing — it’s a shift in mindset. You’re not adding something to the organization, you’re just thinking differently about work. You’re changing how work feels and how it should get done. You’re doing more and doing better.
Don’t splash the word all over your job descriptions or your website, you just look for a quality of human that will make your work better.
Continue to follow along with Clockwork and Nancy Lyons through their social channels or by subscribing to their newsletter.