Every crisis contains hidden opportunity

Cheryl Benadie, CEO, Whole Person Academy

One of the COVID-19 ripple effects is an acceleration of innovation strategies within organisations. In essence, if you want your company to be agile, you will need to create a breeding ground for intrapreneurs.

With the current pressures on the job market, organisations need more employees that will develop an ‘owner’ mindset. It is becoming imperative for employees to start thinking like an entrepreneur as they conduct their daily tasks, as this will help the organisation to constantly adapt to the changing needs of the market.

Here are some tactics to cultivate intrapreneurship within your organisation:

  1. Be human: This is a time to show that you really care about your employees. They may be grappling with the loss of loved ones and genuine expressions of support will go a long way in strengthening loyalty.
  2. Recruit leaders: Younger generations joining the workforce are increasingly looking for leaders that can coach them and enable their growth. Many millennial employees cited poor managers as the reason for leaving jobs. Current managers can be supported to expand their leadership skills, so that teams feel inspired and supported in bringing their best to work.
  3. Create a culture that allows for mistakes: Fear kills creativity. If the organisational culture does not promote learning, allowing for team members to step outside of their comfort zones and attempt something new, no learning can take place and that stunts growth. Intrapreneurial employees need to feel ‘safe’ enough to bring up ideas and then be supported in following through with testing and implementation.
  4. Leverage learning: Be more intentional about helping employees apply theoretical learning into their current job roles. For example, we’re working with an organisation has enrolled a group of leaders and emerging leaders into an online managerial training programme.

One of the practical outcomes of this training has been a member of the team identifying an area of need in her group (incorrect capturing of information) and leading the in-house training of other members in her team. By her leader giving her the opportunity to own the solution to the identified need, she is growing more confident in her ability to help improve productivity within her team.

  1. Delegate responsibility, not just tasks: The burden of leaders is shared when team leaders delegate responsibility, not just tasks. If an employee suggests a possible solution to a particular challenge, allow that person to test out their ideas. Team members often don’t understand some of the limitations that managers may face in implementing a particular solution, so having them follow the process will empower them to design solutions that fit the organisational framework.
  2. Normalise intrapreneurial thinking: There will be employees who are more inclined towards identifying opportunities and taking risks. These intrapreneurs will need to be supported by other members of the team, who will be able to build systems around implantation. There will need to be a shift from “but this is how we’ve always done it” towards “how can we test, measure and reconfigure”.
  3. Build intergenerational synergy: Hidden barriers to team synergy is often lurking behind personal prejudices and stereotypical thinking. Team leaders need to be intentional about leveraging the strengths of all members of the team and encouraging diversity where possible, in order to harness the creation of robust solutions.

Driving innovation and supporting intrapreneurship has to move beyond the company newsletter into tangible culture shifts. Building hardy and agile businesses means continual support and development of the people who have the potential to inculcate design thinking.

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