Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Intrapreneurs Are What Dreams Are Made Of !!!

A new career development programme-learning intrapreneurial skills.

Bill Gates said, “I want to put a PC on every desk, in every home and in every office.” Ford said, “I want to put a car in every garage, in every home.” It is these dreams that led to great achievements. Dreams are what help people move ahead. Narayan Murthy never let go of his Infosys dream.

In a random survey of young executives, especially those in the IT industry were asked what they wanted from their careers. The good news is that most of them were happy doing what they were- but only right now! The rejoinder to their response would alarm any HR department. After all, hiring the right candidate is a Herculean task!

The story unfolds!

Well, the inevitable is that these employees will move on to pursuing their entrepreneurial dreams. But organisations can take advantage of the fact that while three-quarters harbour dreams of their own enterprise, most of them are unaware of how to get there! Once organisations recognise this entrepreneurial drive amongst their employees, they should also recognise the gold mine in it. Unfortunately, most consider this drive as a major obstacle in workforce stability.

Organisations don’t have to lose top performers to the desire of nurturing entrepreneurial dreams. Smart organisations should realise that in such dreams lies an untapped pool of initiatives. When given the opportunity within the organisation itself to realise a sense of ownership and satisfaction these individuals are bound to stick around allaying HR fears of high turnover.

In addition creating an environment in which creativity, innovation and entrepreneurial skills can be exercised would fan the individuals’ aspirations bringing out the best in them. This would reflect in their ability to perform better thereby impacting the organisation positively. Some smart managers pay attention to maintaining good relations with such individuals for future references. After all, history has it that entrepreneurs are celebrated the world over.

What next?

Having identified individuals with an entrepreneurial drive, the organisation would now have to give them the ‘ownership and satisfaction’ opportunity. How does an organisation cater to this need? It does so by developing intrepreneuring skills in such employees.

What’s the good word?

“Intrapreneuring is the process of encouraging employees to initiate and manage new ventures or improvements within the organisation.” Intrapreneurs closely resemble entrepreneurs. They are the hands-on doers who turn ideas into realities inside the organisation. The intrepreneurial process synergises individual aspirations with organisational objectives. When organisations create a culture, which allows individuals to satisfy their entrepreneurial itch without leaving the organisation intrapreneurs are born!

The lamenting lot!

Common exit interview remarks and retirement announcements are, “I’m leaving in search of something more.” “I’m leaving to start my own business.” The underlying message is rather clear. These individuals look for more than a paycheque at the end of their workday. They desire for opportunities where they can establish, nurture and hold responsibility for their work. When the HR department develops intrapreneurial skills in such individuals it provides them:

  • Reasons to stay on
  • Challenges that helps tap their potential
  • Autonomy and leadership opportunities

The key to the success of any intraprenuerial initiative is to see that the new idea or an improvement venture fits into the organisational framework. While allowing employees to exhibit their entrepreneurial talent, organisations must ensure that the ‘new division’ complements its functioning.

The other angle

Not all employees desire to branch out and do something on their own. Infact most of them are not even ready for such opportunities within the organisation, leave alone their own enterprises. Managers should nevertheless remember that while these individuals are not ready to take on responsibilities they are ready to leave the organisation when denied the opportunity! Therefore, intrapreneuring is the safest way out!

Intrapreneurs at work

IHS Support Solutions started of as IHS Helpdesk Services company. It provided on-site services. A young employee whom the management had already identified as one with great potential suggested, “Why not provide 24/7 phone service as well? That way people looking for help at their client companies would call us and speak to an HIS staff member who would be the first to see if the problem can be resolved. This staffer can then determine whether the person on call should disturb the client.

This new division can be hired by clients to be their on-call persons".

The management promoted the idea. IHS has now diversified to providing help desk staffers both on-site and to various clients and organisations. The young employee stayed on to head the new division. This illustrates how the entrepreneurial desires of individuals can be successfully teamed with existing organisational framework. Texas Instruments is another organisation that is running high on its intrapreneurial successes.

A study of fifty of its new products revealed that:

  • Intrapreneurs persisted despite obstacles
  • Every failure lacked a dedicated intrapreneur
  • Innovations were on the decline till someone donned the intrapreneurial role

Training intrapreneurs

Most training managers believe that intraprenuers are born not made. But a marked improvement in individuals post intrapreneurial training tells a different story!

Most organisations provide training in intrapreneurship only to those who volunteer! The assumption is that only those who are courageous enough to volunteer can succeed as intrapreneurs. Training success is partly because these individuals look around the training room and realise, “My goodness, there are other people like me in this world and it seems that the corporation is really serious now about wanting this aspect of me employed.” In other words, training allows these individuals to use a part of their potential that they failed to recognise. Training boosts their drive and vision.

An intrapreneur possesses complementary skills. He needs to be knowledgeable HRD, finance, sales, marketing and quality control. Training is crucial if these skills are missing.

Getting started

An organisation needs to develop an environment, which supports individuals with new ideas. To encourage intrapreneurial initiatives organisations should:

  • Identify individuals with new ideas and risk taking abilities
  • Look for ways to retain then from the start as such people are most likely to leave
  • Provide opportunities to develop their strengths and work on their weaknesses
  • Align individual goals with organisational objectives
  • Ask the most-likely-to-leave employee what would make him stay- he might take on the ownership of his idea and stay on!
  • Implement and support ideas whenever possible

Career development opportunities is one of the first ‘carrots’ organisations offer bright employees. Developing intrapreneurial skills in employees not only keeps talent in the organisation, it also keeps them satisfied and happy.

The ManageMentor

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