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Entrepreneurial traits

Entrepreneurial traits (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

No doubt about it. Empowerment is a great way to motivate people and unleash their energy and talents. But here’s how to reach an even higher level of performance: Create an entrepreneurial culture.

Think about it. On the one hand, you have a highly motivated employee. On the other hand, an entrepreneur who owns the business.

Who’s more energized? Who’s better informed about the state of the business? Who’s more accountable for results? Who’s more actively engaged in monitoring results on a day-to-day basis? And who’s more motivated to keep looking for ways to improve business results through continuous improvement and innovation?

In each case, the answer is the same…the entrepreneur.

Now, I admit this may seem like a purely theoretical distinction. But if you take a fresh look at the workplace and define every job as a “business within a business,” the entrepreneurial model makes perfect sense.

Of course, you can’t flip a switch to give employees a business owner mentality. But you can create a culture that will nourish the entrepreneurial instincts of your people by following these six steps:

1) Make sure your organization believes in empowerment.

That’s a prerequisite for success, because an entrepreneur—by definition—is an empowered, self-directed business leader. If you haven’t created a truly empowering culture, you’re not ready for organizational entrepreneurship yet.

2) Clarify the connection between individual performance and organizational results.

You have to make sure your entrepreneurs-in-training see a direct link between the job they do every day and progress toward your breakthrough goals. And let’s face a reality of the workplace: A lot of people today don’t fully understand the connection between their work and their organization’s strategic objectives.

3) Make sure you have the right performance incentives in place.

Entrepreneurs invest more energy in their efforts than other employees because they are motivated by the potential for greater rewards in the future. If that prospect doesn’t exist, you won’t have a true entrepreneurial culture

4) Share more information.

Entrepreneurs need access to all of the mission-critical information about their piece of the business. So you have to be willing to “share that with them. Otherwise, you’re expecting them to make sound entrepreneurial decisions with insufficient data. That’s not fair. And it’s not going to work.

5) Provide the training and tools people need to think—and act—like entrepreneur

Do your people know how to assess profit and loss? Can they analyze your cost structure? Do they know what it takes to maintain a sharp customer focus? If you take the time to provide the right orientation and education, you can turn entry-level mailroom employees into effective sales reps, assembly line workers into workstation business owners, and virtually any other employee into a more valuable contributor to your company’s success.

6) Publicly track individual and team performance.

Entrepreneurs accept competition as a fact of life. They fully understand the connection between performance and results. And they are confident enough in their abilities to let others see the box score at the end of the game. And don’t worry. If you’re concerned about the possibility of some people putting their own interests ahead of the organization, there’s a simple solution: team-based performance incentives.

Here are two other things to keep in mind. Friendly, mutually supportive, collegial competition will bring out the best in your people. You’ll also take advantage of the Hawthorne effect: People are more productive when they know they’re being observed.

I have had the good fortune to work for large corporations and small start-ups over my career. The one thing that separated good performance from great performance was how effective the leadership team was in encouraging and enabling the organization to “own” their piece of the action – creating that entrepreneurial culture. I have used all of these techniques and I know they can help take your organization to another level.

Good luck!

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