5 things you can do to turn employees into Corporate Entrepreneurs

What if you could turn yourself or the members of your team into entrepreneurial minded contributors, also called Corporate Entrepreneurs. By what factor would you grow your impact? 10x? 100x? Here’s how to get started…

Have you noticed how companies are like people? When they’re startups, they’re in their 20’s, bold, impetuous, ready to take on significant risk with no consideration for the odds and that’s great because that’s what it takes to succeed when you’re starting a company. When they reach their 40’s, they’ve grown, they have more experience and more resources, they’re present internationally and in many cases, they’ve also lost touch with their younger selves and with the qualities that made them so successful.

Large organizations recognize more and more that those qualities, that made them successful in their early years, are still desirable even though they’re not the same company anymore. The objective is to allow them to combine their current position, experience and resources with those startup qualities, to evolve into a more innovative and bold self. To make that turn, you need to change the mindset and the culture within your company and develop Corporate Entrepreneurship.

Corporate Entrepreneurs are people that use the skills, techniques and mindset of entrepreneurs but instead of doing it in a company that they started, they do it in the corporate world to increase their impact and that of the company they work in.

At the startup phase, every employee is a Corporate Entrepreneur, not willingly but by the nature of the role and more importantly the limited resources. Startup employees need to have the vision and be the doer. They need to be both astronaut and jockey to have a global vision of their role and win the race at the same time. As the company grows, complexity grows as well, and more people are hired. The organization evolves, and the profile of the employees change as well. At the tip of the pyramid, people are expected to be more strategic and the more you go down that people pyramid and the more doers you’ll find. Employees become leaders or doers and more often than not, leaders lose touch with the operational reality of the company and doers feel powerless and unable to do what must be done when something goes wrong in the field.

So, what can you do to turn back the clock and get your employees to become Corporate Entrepreneurs? Well here are a few things to get you started:

  • Train your hiring managers. It’s through hiring managers that the next wave of Corporate Entrepreneurs could come and let’s face it, most people are just not good recruiters. Most people don’t hire that much and have a very limited experience in that field and paradoxically, most people think they’re good recruiters. Many managers and leaders hire to help them execute more. Instead of hiring more brains and grow their options, they hire more hands to execute their plan. And to be frank, it’s just easier to hire more doers, there are just more of them in any talent pool
  • Give your people perspective. Each manager should take the time to explain individually to her or his team members how their work contributes to the overall performance of the company. Don’t make a presentation to your team, cover this during 1 on 1 sessions to really have an impact. For some roles it’s easy to visualize how you impact the performance of the company, but some functions are just too remote from revenue generation to see it clearly
  • Show them how to write their story. Sit down with each team member and help them write a short paragraph that explains what they do and why they’re doing it. It’s their elevator pitch. It’s a key part of understanding what your role is in an organization and it’s an exercise that forces you to ask yourself the right questions about your purpose and your role.
  • Give them a singular purpose. If everyone in your team has the exact same job day to day, then you’re not only missing out on a great opportunity but you’re also indicating to your team that they don’t matter much and can be replaced easily. Not great if you want them to take ownership. Each person has a different story, different skills and competencies and you should tap into that. Each person should carry a project that is specific to him or her and that holds significant benefits for the team and the company. People need to have a singular purpose to identify what particular contribution they bring to the team and to the company.
  • Support their growth and truly help them move to the next phase of their career. Do it for their benefit only, even if that means that it will be their last role with this company. Supporting them personally and not as part of a career path within the company is a great way to build trust and show that you care about them and not only about the performance of the team.

I created a 4-question assessment to determine if you are already a Corporate Entrepreneur or if you need to develop in certain areas. You can also use that test with your team and ask them to answer those 4 questions in preparation for your next 1 on 1. That’s a great way to have the Corporate Entrepreneurship conversation started. Click here to download it!

You should also check out the ‘Become a Leader’ career path on LinkedIn Learning. The course library on LinkedIn Learning is so large that you can also find there career paths. Career paths are series of courses for you to follow in order to initiate a significant change in your career. In this one, you can find 8 courses aimed at giving you the tools to becoming a leader with courses such as ‘Leadership Foundations’, ‘Transitioning from Manager to Leader’ and ‘Developing Executive Presence’ just to name a few. Check them out here…

Here’s also a video on the distinction between management and leadership. Often used interchangeably, management and leadership are very different. Author Britt Andreatta explains here both concepts

What’s your take on the way to develop an entrepreneurial mindset within an already established company? What key lever have I not mentioned here and should be in the top 5? Or do you believe that change cannot be made? Looking forward to reading your comments…

If you enjoyed this article, join more than 10,000 other readers and get it in an email every week…

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *