Have you been consider your staff engagement recently, maybe wondering if your managers need to connect to your staff in order to develop new ways of working. Maybe that’s the wrong way, maybe what you need to do is …
… recruit entrepreneurs into your business.
Have you How often have you been told “Your staff are your biggest asset” and you think, “Yeah right, you haven’t met my staff.” But that saying is so true for most businesses; your staff really can make or break your business. Yet far too often business leaders feel they are the ones shouldering not only all the responsibility but also the need to come up with new ideas, new products, new routes to market, efficiency savings. You name it, as the boss it’s all your job. Hard work right? Stop and think for a moment. What are you paying staff for? Maybe you have the wrong staff. Maybe you have just given them the wrong job titles.
I know I know, let’s take things one step at a time here
First off, I bet you sometimes feel that your staff are not helping you with all this responsibility. Why don’t they come up with the ideas for once, and take some pressure off you? Fantastic! So you ether hold an ideas day, bring in an innovation thinking coach or trainer into the company and pray the ideas start flooding in.
Whilst that may work for some. the chances are this is a one off exercise and things will go back to normal pretty quickly. The ideas stop coming your way and it’s back to your top down approach of coming up with ideas and forcing the staff to accept them and make the changes happen.
Oh Stop! That’s just too much like hard work
Just like you I have read all the change management books and helped organisations through change. You and I know full well that’s just plain hard work. Surely there has to be a better way. Why can’t staff just see what needs doing and come up with ideas for themselves? Surely then we don’t need to make them accept change as they will be the change that’s required.
Have you considered if staff have ideas but don’t actually share them?
Your staff, through the very nature of the work they do, often have more contact with your customers and suppliers than you do and it’s likely that they will see the problems and possible solutions for your business; ways of improving products, services, reducing costs and new ideas to take to market. But why would or should they share them and what happens if they do?
The thing is the fear of the unknown or, potentially, previous poor experiences can stop staff from coming forward with their ideas. Maybe they don’t feel their ideas are fully formed and so they hold back. Yet any good business leader knows that most things come from a germ of an idea and only by working on that idea can it become fully formed and considered for implementation.
Great. We just need staff to come forward with ideas, then we can help make them work
Hang on a minute. I didn’t say it was that easy now, did I? Remember I said they may have a fear of the unknown or had previous poor experiences. Let’s consider this scenario for a moment. They come up with an idea, let’s say, to improve customer service and they take it to their line manager. Now, one of three things can happen which will stop them bothering next time. First off, the line manager ignores them or puts them off saying “Umm, don’t think that’s a good idea.” (Let’s be honest, they can’t be bothered with the work). Second option, the manager takes the idea and passes it onto senior managers as their own idea (Oh yeah, we all know that happens a lot) or the third option, they half-heartedly take the idea on, they don’t enable it to succeed and then they blame the ideas person for its failure. Would you bother sharing your ideas next time?
So what can we do to make ideas come to life?
First off you need to encourage a culture which will embrace ideas people rather than seeing them as difficult or adding to the workload. Next, managers need to know their job is to manage and encourage staff even if they don’t like new ideas. If they don’t get it, maybe your business shouldn’t have managers or managers who know their abilities and embrace other people’s differences. If your managers are blockers to ideas coming to life, review if this is what your company needs.
Finally employ people with an enterprising mindset. These are people who think like entrepreneurs but don’t necessary have the desire to be one. Often referred to as corporate entrepreneurs or intrapreneurs, they will often:
- Have a high need for self-fulfilment
- Have a passion to create something / develop something so that others benefit
- Have a desire to make their idea become reality (even when things get in the way)
- Are self-motivated
- Can see the benefit of building relationships
- Have self-belief
- Are resourceful
- Want others to have a good experience
But guess what? These staff will also leave if they can’t use their skills set
That’s right. If they don’t feel they are able to use their enterprise mindset they will stop offering ideas and solutions and become disengaged from their work with you. In reality they are likely to be looking for a new job, a new opportunity. right now.
Knowing who your intrapreneurs are is a great thing, but understanding who the enterprise blocking managers are is far more important. Maybe you don’t need managers or maybe you need your intrapreneurs to be more self managing so they don’t come across those enterprise blocking managers.
Like to know more about developing enterprising people in your workplace? Rebecca can speak at your staff event or conferences and encouraging enterprise in your teams.