You know you are an entrepreneur at heart, but you find yourself working inside a large organization. How do you cope?
One of our favorite contributors, Paul E. White, Ph. D. (the coauthor of The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace, Rising Above a Toxic Workplace, and Sync or Swim), proposes the key is to recognize that you are not necessarily surrounded by other entrepreneurs. Learn from his advice below.
Not Everyone On Your Team Is An Entrepreneur
by Paul White, Ph.D.
Once a business gets beyond the initial start-up phase (where the primary entrepreneurs are focused almost exclusively on driving the growth of the business), a new phase often “kicks in.” In this phase, the original business leaders are looking to other team members to help grow the business. It may take the form of reaching out to untapped target populations, creating variations of the products and services for new markets, and/or developing “off shoot” businesses from the main business line.
Good Idea, Wrong Way
These are good ideas to pursue but unfortunately many (most?) business leaders make some glaring errors in how they try to engage others in the entrepreneurial activity of the business.
Entrepreneurial leaders make three common false assumptions when trying to get others involved in entrepreneurial activities:
False Assumption #1: Everyone on the team is an entrepreneur and thinks like you do.
It is fairly well documented that most successful businesses have individuals with various personality types and differing skill sets including entrepreneurs, managers, and support personnel. If you lead a successful business (and have more than two or three team members), several types of team members are most likely represented in your organization. Not everyone in your company is an entrepreneur or wants to be one.
False Assumption #2: Everyone is motivated by the same things you are.
Most entrepreneurs are driven by pursuing achievement, monetary reward, and public recognition. However, rarely is everyone on your team motivated by these same things. In fact, we know that there are different languages of appreciation and specific actions that are more (or less) meaningful to each team member. If you do not understand this, you are at risk for setting up structures, compensation plans, and recognition programs that will “miss the mark” because they’re based on the motivators important to you, not your team members.
False Assumption #3: The greatest way to grow entrepreneurial activities is to get more people doing entrepreneurial activity.
Maybe, maybe not. You actually may see more growth by making sure the true, hardcore entrepreneurs are freed up from managerial tasks so they can do what they are good at. In some situations, then, hiring a manager or support staff may be the quickest way to more entrepreneurial growth.
What Should You Do?
Understand your team members’ personality styles.
Invest a little money, time, and effort in having your staff take a business-oriented personality assessment that will help you understand those who are entrepreneurial and those who will perform better in other roles.
Learn how each team member is motivated and prefers to be shown appreciation and encouragement.
Supervisors in organizations waste a lot of time and energy “going through the motions” of recognition and actually creating negative reactions (cynicism and apathy) because the actions are not viewed as genuine. Take a look at the Motivating by Appreciation Inventory, which will identify how each of your team members wants to be shown appreciation and encouragement.
Make sure you are utilizing each team member’s strengths to the fullest.
This may include reassigning tasks from entrepreneurs to free them up to do what they are best at – growing new business opportunities. Don’t try to make staff who don’t think, act or get motivated like entrepreneurs become entrepreneurs. They will be frustrated and you won’t see the results you hoped for.
Yes, you need help in growing the business, but don’t assume that the best way is to get other team members to engage in entrepreneurial activity. Find out who are skilled and motivated like you are, and free them up to pursue their goals.