What do companies like Amazon, Google, Apple, and HP have in common – other than the fact that they are all technology companies? Well, they were all ‘garage startups’. These tech giants got their humble start in a garage and their meteoric rise can be attributed to the entrepreneurial spirit of not only their founders but also their employees. Being an entrepreneur has little to do with having a sack full of cash or access to a pool of resources. It is all about the mindset. It is about seeking opportunities to make a difference, being open to taking risks, and having the passion to pursue beliefs.
So how can you stimulate creativity and initiative in your employees? Building a culture of entrepreneurship requires pulling several levers at different levels. Simply start by empowering employeesto take ownership. If required, provide training and mentoring opportunities without stifling their entrepreneurial spirit at any time. Here are five ways in which you can create a team that is constantly looking to push the boundaries:
Break the barriers
Too many policies, rules, and bureaucracy stifle entrepreneurial spirit – make a conscious effort to stay away from them. It is important to not be bogged down by the KRAs when it comes to creativity. Employees should feel free to come up with ideas and suggestions that may not always be in their ‘scope of responsibility’ and management should ensure that the same are directed to the right resources to validate and grow their potential. 3M does a great job of this. Their 8000 researchers can spend upto 15% of their time working on ideas without management approval.
To be truly entrepreneurial, a certain amount of flexibility is essential. Inculcating a flexible culture that allows for freedom to explore ideas, alternative schedules, virtual interactions, and anytime-anywhere access to information can build the foundation for innovative ideas and a bustling workforce. Nobody does this better than Google. Their philosophy is to create ‘the happiest and the most productive workplaces in the world’. To this end, their offices are generously sprinkled with cafes, play areas, open kitchens, outdoor spaces with chaises, and cafeterias that serve gourmet meals.
Recognize and reward budding entrepreneurs:It is critical that you recognize the employees with an entrepreneurial spirit and reward them. Applaud people who have the power to take risks – irrespective of whether they fail or succeed. Thermo Electron, a Massachusetts based company, moved away from conventional reward systems to bolster creativity and entrepreneurship. It gave its managers and key employees repackaged equity in its promising businesses that were spun off as separately traded divisions.
Consider new metrics for measuring results: Changing times call for new yardsticks for performance measurement. Sticking to outdated metrics can hamper entrepreneurial efforts. For instance, measuring employee performance in terms of business alignment and innovativeness might be far more relevant today than using traditional metrics such as evaluating competencies.
Spot the entrepreneurial DNA right at the time of recruitment: Hiring people based on their passion for a job rather than skills will increase your chances of boosting entrepreneurship within the organization. How do you spot ’entrepreneurs’ early on? Look for the people who are naturally more curious, inquisitive and have an insatiable hunger for the unknown. Zappos, an online shoe retailer champions this approach with its recruitment process starting with a cultural fit interview that carries 50% weightage and determines whether a candidate is hired or not. They believe that hiring people who fit in the company’s entrepreneurial culture will make a great brand happen on its own.
Laying the groundwork for future successSupporting and investing in an entrepreneurial culture is like a venture capitalist investing in an early-stage startup that later grows to become a booming business. A great entrepreneurial company culture doesn’t happen on its own. You need to convey your vision to create an entrepreneurial organization and get your employees to buy in. While the process is not easy, persistence increating a culture that allows employees to ‘own their piece’, learn, and grow can help drive your organization to the next level.