By Diane Boorman – Business Enabler, Mentor and Founder at Brand Analytics
An intrapreneur is a person who has an entrepreneurial mindset but is employed by a company to drive innovative ideas and projects within their business. Yet many companies fail to retain their talented intrapreneurs.
These individuals are primed to see new opportunities and investigate changes to policy, technology or systems that will improve the functioning of a company or develop innovative new products and services. Yet, they often find themselves getting bored or at odds with the very company that hired them.
Having been an intrapreneur myself I know first-hand the struggle companies face. Today, I feel sorry for my bosses as I pushed against every boundary, every rule and every corporate policy in my career. In those days, working for yourself just was not an option: you had to get a job and earn a salary. While I was highly successful and worked on amazing projects, not having the freedom to experiment drove me to leave formal employment.
The reality is, there is a lot employers could do to retain staff. Here are some of these ideas:
Support their growth through skills development or training
Intrapreneurs who are not using their full capacity will get bored. They are always looking for new ideas and the next thing to develop. They are quick-minded and therefore need stimulation. If they don’t find it within your organization, they will find it outside. Allow them to take leadership and personal development courses and learn new skills.
If they have learnt as much as they can in one department, move them to another. If they are getting bored, find another path for them in your company – it is better to harness their drive and energy than to lose them altogether.
Share new ideas and information
Creative thinking is the cornerstone of intrapreneurship, so find a way to push them into a space to spark creativity and big sky ideas. Share new and interesting information with them often; an intrapreneur will absorb ideas vigorously, thinking continually about them to see how they can be practically applied.
Create social opportunities
Intrapreneurs love meeting new people and interacting with others. When looking for volunteers to participate in business events or activities look no further than the intrapreneur; they will always put their hands up.
Ensure expectations and budgets are explained from the beginning. An intrapreneur will go all out often coming up with big ideas which can break the budget, so it is important to set the expectations upfront. Let them know what is and what is not flexible. If a budget can be exceeded explain the criteria that have to be met before it can be even considered. This will stop the individual from wasting time and energy on an idea that will never come to fruition.
The intrapreneur gives everything to their job, they will work long hours often getting lost in the pleasure their work brings them. Make sure they are managing their time well and balancing their work/life; the last thing you want is a burnt-out intrapreneur on your hands.
Push them outside their comfort zones
Intrapreneurs should be challenged; push them out their comfort zones and you will see them grow. Don’t let feelings of complacency set in, usually, there are two things keeping a person in their comfort zone: fear and goals. When you notice complacency of any form, push the intrapreneur to set new, challenging goals or help them uncover any fears that may be limiting them. The intrapreneur grows quickly so expect a fast reaction to your efforts and watch them bloom.