Why managers should support enterprising staff

A study with American Express found that 58% of managers are either very willing or extremely willing to support employees who want to do more to bring business into their organisation. What they are actually saying is they will support intrapreneurship. Yet time and time again employees tell me that managers don’t want to support enterprise within their organisation even when the Chief Executive or Managing Director has said that’s what is needed.

So what’s really going on? Why are managers blocking enterprise activities and why should they support staff rather than block their plans?

The fact is intrapreneurship projects can make managers look really good to their line managers. It suggests that the team is working well, thinking about things in a different way, being innovative and they often go on to achieve better results. All in all making the manager look great.

However, sometimes when working on innovative projects they don’t achieve better results. The new income streams they had planned to bring in don’t materialise. Worse still some managers block entrepreneurial staff because they worry they will make themselves, as the manager, look bad because they hadn’t come up with the idea for themselves. I’ve even heard of managers who block enterprising activities in their teams for fear it will lead to increase workloads and greater demands on themselves.

These managers are selfish. Not only are they putting themselves above other staff, but also the success and future of their organisations. So what can be done? How can we convince them to embrace and even encourage enterprise in their teams?

Why should managers help intrapreneurs?

Well, often intrapreneurial people will get through greater levels of work than other staff members. They are willing to go that extra mile, be more creative, do that little bit extra, with more passion and willingness to see things work and come to fruition. Part of their enterprising mindset is to be determined to make their idea work, however much effort that takes.

This mindset can be infectious to other team members. They often become willing to work hard to support the enterprising person and often start joining in with developing ideas, becoming willing to make changes and adopting new solutions, because the passion of the other person makes it difficult for them to dispute that this is a good idea.

Staff who are naturally enterprising will often become frustrated if they are blocked from using their enterprising ideas and if they are left unable to move things forward they will often become a difficult employee. Lack of opportunities to use their mindset will often lead to them leaving the organisation, potentially for a competitor, where they believe their ideas will be valued or do it themselves and become a competitor. If they are unable to leave then they can often become a destructive member of staff, frustrated by what they see as unacceptable blocks to them solving problems, improving services and bringing in income for the organisation.

Are you worried you and your managers don’t know how to embrace and encourage intrapreneurs in your teams? Contact me to discuss how I can help you and your managers tap into the underutilised enterprise mindsets in your organisation.

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