How do you leverage your Entrepreneurial Employees?

But how do you manage and incent employees with an entrepreneurial spirit? How do you take advantage and channel it into the corporate good? In the era gone by, there was once a time when companies treated their employees like family when employees would grow in the organisation until retirement. Employees were like family for the long run; this suddenly changed with job cuts and uncertainties in many sectors of the economy. But the family idea doesn’t work anymore—after all, you cannot fire family, and companies have to let people go all the time. Historically all companies have had a compact mindset regarding employment.

It is no secret that today’s employees — particularly those in the millennial generation and younger — don’t feel a strong loyalty to their employers. This is as a result of many factors. And many are very entrepreneurial, especially with all of the opportunities social media brings. How can managers make the best use of an employee who has worked in their own business in the past, or possibly even has a business they run on the side?

Deciding how you’re going to work with a budding entrepreneur is something that should start, if possible, before he or she is hired, according to Faiza Ayub, founder and CEO of Faizer’s Pickles. The employee today has an idea of how they see their careers, so they articulate their goals. Then the manager describes what they want done for the company. Then the employee and the manager seek alliance on how to develop that alignment, so both “can flourish” and become more innovative and creative, Ayub said. Innovative companies are beginning to realize that the old way of management is dead meaning that unlike before, no matter how many smart people are at your companies, there are more smart people outside the company than inside the company.

“Creating an open dialogue during the interview process is the first thing a manager can do to understand a candidate’s entrepreneurial endeavors,” Ayub says. That, she explains, means asking questions about how the candidate plans to transition with responsibilities and time management, and determining if any conflicts of interest exist if the candidate already is involved in an outside business.

“If there is an open conversation in the beginning, it can set up the expectations during the employee’s tenure,” says Ayub , who suggests putting entrepreneurial employees in incentivized roles once they’re on staff.

“The incentive may be money, time, or a leadership role,” she explains, noting that the incentive should vary based on an employee’s stage in life. Faiza encouraged executives to get their employees to “build rich, collective networks” on social media and to “celebrate those who are well connected and encourage those who are not. All of us need valuable network intelligence.”

For example, most millennials value their time — which means offering them a four-day work week or three weeks of vacation might be more appealing than a raise or a leadership role, Faiza says.

That, of course, depends on why the employee decided to seek a full-time position.

“Money is less of a factor if they are making good money in their business. However, cash flow … is why most people go back to work,” she adds.

Finally, a discussion about the future is key.

“Engaging in conversations about future growth is vital to gauge longevity,” Ayub stresses. Can you tell if the employee considers the job just a short-term step on their career path? Or are there ways that their overall career goals align with what your company can offer?

“Any entrepreneur knows they can sacrifice in the short term for greater long-term gains,” Ayub says.

In fact, many characteristics entrepreneurs possess make them ideal employees. They’re typically innovative, energetic, not afraid to tackle challenging situations and usually able to multi-task effectively; so tapping into those characteristics can be a big plus for any organization!


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