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Why aren’t my staff more enterprising?

I regularly work with CEOs and executive teams in charities and housing associations. One of their concerns is that their staff are not enterprising. They worry that the staff expect the senior team to be enterprising, come up with ideas, new ways of doing things and the staff expect change to happen to them. When it comes to bringing in new income streams, senior staff feel the responsibility all lands firmly at their office door. Is this true? Do staff lack an enterprising mindset and if so, what can you do about it?

In a study by less than a third of staff felt they were allowed the opportunities needed to be enterprising in their current role. So what do they need? In general to enable staff to be more enterprising you need them to have the flexibility in their work days to enable them to try out enterprising activities coupled with the resources and support to make them happen.

It is also common for staff to feel it is above their pay grade to suggest new ideas or take on an enterprising project. They worry that other staff will see them as pushy and managers that they are treading on their toes. In addition, staff know everyone has enough on their plate already. With all this going on, it’s no wonder staff don’t step forward with ideas or consider being more enterprising.

What can be done to increase enterprise in the workplace?

Most organisations don’t have a formal programme to support and encourage intrapreneurs, unlike companies such as Dreamworks who teach staff how to pitch their ideas, or Facebook where engineers are allowed time to work on pet projects until they are ready to be formally considered.

If you want your staff to be more enterprising with limited budget and time, you need to give them opportunities to step away from their daily work and consider different approaches, solutions and new ways of doing things. Take time to look at what others in your sector are doing and consider how you can take these ideas and make them your own.

Support is key to ensuring enterprise becomes part of your workplace. Giving staff support to come up with ideas, develop them and see them through to fruition is vital. As with any entrepreneur, intrapreneurs can lose confidence in their ideas, have low points and wonder if they are doing the right thing. By supporting them and encouraging them you can keep them going through those low points as well as help them work through difficulties and develop even more ways of improving services or increasing income streams.

In fact mangers need to take on the role of coach or mentor when embracing enterprise in the workplace. This will provide a supportive environment which will allow ideas to flourish and grow and back up support when things don’t work out.

If you want to develop a more enterprising workplace, one way is to train your managers in mentoring and coaching skills. To learn more about mentoring contact me.

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