Leading your team in a growth business – how to manage an intrapreneur

If you are considering encouraging more entries in your organisation one thing which may worry you is how to manage an intrapreneur.  I regularly speak about intrapreneurship as enabling and encouraging staff to be enterprising. This requires an element of freedom for staff to be able to see the need for new solutions themselves, develop those ideas and then go on to implement them. This may seem like a scary step for many leaders and managers who are used to managing staff by using Key Performance Indicators (KPI’s) and Objective based review. However in many ways leading and managing an enterprising staff member is similar.

Let’s get something clear here, this is not about giving staff complete freedom to do whatever they feel they should be doing and it isn’t about relinquishing all control. When I say we need staff to be more enterprising that doesn’t mean we want them all to be like Alan Sugar or Donald Trump, wow imagine a company full of them. However, it will require some shift in the way in which you support them to carry out their enterprising activities because in part they will need more freedom but also some clear structure to ensure they know what they can and can’t do to move the company forward. Indeed the approach is more one of mentor and coach than manager if you really want to get the best out of the enterprising individual.

Think about it this way, your role is now to facilitate the staff in their endeavours to develop solutions and ideas. These ideas are to improve the customer experience as well as increase the profits in the business. Therefore by supporting them through mentoring and coaching you can all learn and grow together as you will more often than not be involved in activities which you yourself have little or no experience of.

how to manage an intrapreneur

What support will an intrapreneur need

On the whole intrapreneurs need a mixture of feedback as well as support and encouragement in reviewing and reflecting on activities. As with entrepreneurs, intrapreneurs tend to get highly involved in the doing of the activities. Making things happen. This can mean that they forget to take a step back and review if things are being done in the best way. It can also mean they don’t see problems coming their way. Providing them with regular sessions which helps them focus on reviewing and reflecting can be really powerful. It also means you can keep track of things as the manager without being on their case every five minutes. In addition, you can add your ideas or offer your view and opinion to help them move to the next stages of their project.

They also need to be able to have answers to questions and decisions acted on in a timely manner. Far too many intrapreneurs become frustrated because their managers and leaders hold up their activities when they are unable or unwilling to make decisions which then hold up the whole project.

In order to make this happen planning ahead is the obvious move. Know in advance what level of decision making anyone involved in the enterprising project has. For example, can everyone make any decisions on a day to day basis up to a certain spend or impact level without checking with a senior member? Is it possible to avoid the need of for someone more senior by getting team members to agree amongst themselves rather than taking decisions alone or do all decisions need to be made by a senior member of the team? If so can that senior member make all decisions or what level does their authority reach before they to need to ask for approval? Delays in approval can affect the smooth running of projects which may need quick decisions in order to be successful.

Give your staff enough space – it develops trust

By giving staff space to get on with the project for themselves they will feel trusted and this on the whole leads to them not taking advantage. In order for them to take on a more enterprising role they need to be willing to make decisions for themselves, take control of situations and work out what’s best for the customer and the company.

Your job as the manager or leader is to ensure they have the information needed to make a decision then you need to let go. Trust them to make a decision, give them the space to try things and yes they may well make mistakes but those will be used as a learning tool by having discussions which reflect and review with a learning mind-set.

Crucial support for the intrapreneur

The key areas to concentrate on as a manager of an intrapreneur are giving feedback in a timely manner and providing an opportunity for reflection. Coupled with timely answers to questions.

If you and your organisation would like to know more about enterprise within companies take a look at my free e-book – “How your organisation can grow by encouraging Enterprise Within”

My new mini book –  How your organisation can grow by encouraging enterprise within.

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