Entrepreneurial Employees: Cultivate an Entrepreneurial Attitude in Your Staff
By Ingrid Vaughan
Have you ever looked at your staff and wondered why some of them continually meet and exceed your expectations? They’re always looking for ways to improve themselves and their performance. They seem to be full of great ideas and are enthusiastic about being part of your team.
Have you looked at others and wondered why they constantly need direction and seem to perform to the most minimum standards? They lack energy and it feels as if the rest of the team is always pulling them along.
The difference between these two types of employee is that the first one has an entrepreneurial attitude – the second, doesn’t. Growing small businesses need employees who regularly demonstrate entrepreneurial characteristics and work habits. An employee with an entrepreneurial attitude exhibits positive characteristics that lift the company to a higher level. An employee who doesn’t can drag down the other staff and the entire company. Here are the qualities entrepreneurial employees demonstrate.
They are able to deal with risk – Entrepreneurial employees are able to make decisions even when lacking all the information. They are not afraid to make wrong decisions, and if they do, learn from them and move on.
They are results-oriented – Entrepreneurial employees take ownership to get tasks done. They are “can do” people who demonstrate common sense in decisions and actions. They are able to resolve problems that often divert or distract others and see alternatives to every roadblock.
They display energy – Entrepreneurial employees have high levels of energy and enthusiasm. They consistently generate output that is higher than expected. They perform effectively with limited supervision, are able to motivate themselves, and are good at establishing priorities. They are not clock-watchers and don’t need to be asked to stay late to finish an important job.
They have a desire to grow continually – Entrepreneurial employees are constantly looking for ways to grow. They are willing to accept much higher levels of responsibility than the norm for a specified position. They are always asking for more challenges and new tasks. They act as strong role models, and find themselves training and coaching others.
They are strong team players – Entrepreneurial employees recognize how their role contributes to the overall effort and success of the organization, accept accountability and ownership for areas of responsibility and expect the same of others.
They have the ability to multi-task – Entrepreneurial employees are flexible and able to accept new duties, assignments and responsibilities. They can perform more than one role until duties and functions can be assigned to others. They jump in to help co-workers when it’s needed. They are also willing to dig in and do mundane or routine work tasks that others put off.
They are improvement-oriented – Entrepreneurial employees are more than willing to challenge existing procedures and systems in a constructive way. They suggest improvements frequently and encourage others to do the same. They are willing to accept constructive criticism as an opportunity to improve their performance.
Having entrepreneurial employees will raise your level of business success. Imagine if everyone who worked for you was the kind of employee who demonstrated these qualities; who continually exceeded your expectations. Here’s how you can create a business culture that will encourage and develop an entrepreneurial spirit.
1. Look for an entrepreneurial attitude when hiring.
Ask questions of potential employees that will give you a picture of whether they have the qualities you desire. Anyone can be trained to do specific tasks, but someone with an entrepreneurial attitude will continue to surprise you in a positive way with what they can accomplish in your business. The best time to discover this is when you’re hiring. In fact, print out this list of qualities. Prior to the interview ask the candidate to write down examples of times when they demonstrated these qualities in previous employment, volunteer activities or in their personal lives. It can be a great for meaningful interview questions.
2. Teach your existing staff what it means to be an entrepreneurial employee.
Take these qualities and let your staff know you want to establish a work environment where those things are demonstrated and rewarded. Have training sessions with your staff to teach them about what each of those qualities means in your specific business. Create a poster listing these qualities and have it displayed prominently in a variety of places in your office or workplace. They will likely begin adopting these attributes as their attention is drawn to thinking differently throughout the day.
3. Reward those who take what you’ve given them and run with it.
Give incentives for those who do well at exhibiting entrepreneurial characteristics on a regular basis. Acknowledge and reward them in front of other employees to encourage them to do the same.
4. Build these expectations into your performance evaluations.
If you truly want to build a company run by entrepreneurial employees, use those qualities as measurable elements of their performance evaluations. When they can see clear expectations, they can live up to them more easily.
5. Demonstrate those qualities yourself.
Lead by doing. Make sure your staff sees you as someone who is able to deal with risk, who is improvement-oriented, who is constantly growing, etc.
If you’re looking for a positive way to reenergize your staff, use the concept of growing entrepreneurial employees and see where it takes you. Be prepared to come out of the gate running, because those employees who embrace it will keep you at the top of your game, and you’ll see your business grow because of it.
Ingrid lives and works in Victoria BC as a Human Resource Generalist. She is the author of I’m A Circle, You’re a Square, a book about increasing the effectiveness of workplace communication. In addition to her HR generalist skills, Ingrid has experience as a small business coach, employment counsellor, business writer and corporate trainer. She is currently the Human Resource Specialist for the BC Construction Association, Skilled Trades Employment Program.