One of a small-business owner’s greatest challenges is attracting and retaining talent. Often, the owner feels a special sense of investment in the company that may not be shared by employees. But what if everyone in your business worked as hard and with the level of commitment of a CEO — or even as an owner? I call these employees “intrapreneurs” — employees who takes on the same responsibility as the CEO or owner.
In other terms, it’s an employee who acts as if they are in charge and own the business. Wouldn’t that ease your mind as a business owner when you’re on vacation? This is exactly the type of person you should be looking for when you hire employees, and if you are the employee, what you should become.
The national average shows that only 13-15 percent of employees are engaged at work. That leaves 85 percent who are disengaged. Disengagement can lead to employees who simply show up and drain energy and resources from the company. In some cases, this can slowly kill the small business.
While it can be hard to measure, the goal of a small-business owner should be to obtain a return on that employee that equals at least two or three times that employee’s annual salary. Therefore, as a small business owner, you need intrapreneurs in your organization.
I suggest you do four things:
- Recruit intrapreneurs.
- Coach intrapreneurs.
- Develop intrapreneurs.
- Retain intrapreneurs
I’m the first to admit it’s not easy. Why is it so hard to foster a sense of investment among employees?
- Society often teaches us “go with the flow,” “be seen not heard,” and “do just enough to get by.”
- Students are not exposed to real entrepreneurism and generally do not receive formal training during their studies.
- We are taught that it’s better to have an occupation instead of a vocation. In an occupation, employees trade time and energy for money. With a vocation, employees bring talent and passion and take away a sense of purpose.
- We experience a lack of personal accountability or a failure of someone to hold us accountable. Many people fail to do, seek and find what sets them apart from others.
How can you infuse intrapreneur thinking into your organization?
- Hire for attitude. Past experience in a similar role is valuable; however, it’s the right attitude that brings results.
- Set expectations and hold people accountable. Always tie all objectives to bottom-line results.
- Allow your people to make decisions by asking the four most important words in leadership: What do you think?
- Reward intrapreneur employees by phasing out others who drain the company’s resources.
- Invest in training for all of your people. It’s a proven fact that the trained person will always outperform the untrained person.
How can you become an intrapreneur?
- Start now by being mentored by a real entrepreneur.
- Start looking for problems within your business that you can solve and drive up your value by taking action.
- Identify and remove roadblocks that exist in your organization.
- Become a “person of interest” in your space; the more people know you, the more they’ll come to find you and ask for your help.
Jonathan “JJ” Jarrell is the regional HR director for Performance Food Group based in Gainesville and serves as a district director for HR Florida, a state affiliate for the Society of Human Resource Management.