Entrepreneurial Employees

Entrepreneurial employees – the one consistent wish on every manager’s list. Not everyone with an entrepreneurial mindset end up starting their own companies – some of them work for other companies and are probably part of your team now. 

Habits of employees with an entrepreneurial mindset:traits-of-entrepreneurs

  • They don’t hesitate to take initiative and display strong leadership skills
  • They are constant learners and use opportunities to grow
  • They are driven by outcomes and impatient to succeed
  • They can work independently without supervision
  • They will leave your company sooner than later unless you give them a purposeful reason to stay. 

A manager’s leadership style can influence how entrepreneurial an employee will be. There are certainly some employees who will always just show up at work and do the bare minimum in exchange for a paycheck. But even in that situation, managers can encourage an attitude of entrepreneurship. On the other hand, employees who have an entrepreneurial mindset will also stop investing in the company if the leader fails to manage them well.

Managers who destroy entrepreneurship share some common traits:

  • They micromanage their employees because they believe that any amount of autonomy granted to employees will be exploited. Managers who believe this find it difficult to trust their employees with the simplest of projects.
A new manager was assigned to a team and the manager began to believe that the team did not have enough work. To remedy that, she began managing them so closely that the team decided to let her do all the work and simply do what they were told. Despite creating verbal action plans during meetings, her team would not deliver on projects. Whenever she confronted them, the same excuse was shared, “I didn’t know that I was supposed to do that.” The manager was frustrated with her team and decided that the best course of action was to start managing them even more closely. Since her team lacked initiative in leading projects, she decided to send them detailed notes at the end of each meeting to dictate every task that she had assigned to them so that they would no longer be able to use their usual excuse.

There are three main problems with this approach. Firstly, the manager will end up wasting a lot more time each day writing out those detailed emails to them. Secondly, if she does miss including something in her email, she will end up with the same ‘lack of initiative’ complain towards the team because the task will go unfinished. Additionally, her approach will crush any possibility of coaching her team to take ownership of their projects.

  • The other trait in managers that destroys an entrepreneurial spirit is criticizing new ideas and shooting down new solutions to problems. 
A friend of mine shared this about her manager. The manager encouraged new ideas only in theory. The manager would criticize the team for not thinking creatively but no matter how great an idea was, it would get rejected before it had even been fully discussed. And some of those ideas had potential. Needless to say, as time passed the team was less inclined to share ideas because everything was “shelved” for the future.

When faced with a problem, such managers then make it their responsibility to solve everything without including any inputs from the team. Even when inputs are encouraged, they steer the solution to what they had planned to do right from the start.

  • These managers end up delegating only mindless tasks that are aimed to keep employees busy without adding any value to the employee’s role. Some managers fail to learn the art of delegating.
A few months ago, I was discussing delegation skills with someone in a leadership role. The person was talking about their reasons for not delegating projects. They said that delegating often requires more effort to explain than to simply do the work themselves. The manager failed to understand that delegating projects in addition to coaching employees would be an easy way to develop the next line of leaders.

The other reason why this leader did not delegate was because they would wait too late to start the project and would run out of time to train someone else on the project. Needless to say, the manager was struggling to retain employees.

  • They believe that they need to stop employees with entrepreneurial mindsets from using company resources to build their own companies. Employees with an entrepreneurial mindset almost always have side businesses and it is this characteristic that makes them work smarter to make their employer succeed as well. 
 I was recently reading an entrepreneur’s success story. The entrepreneur admitted that he had spent hours building his own company while still employed at a full-time job. Instead of wasting down time at his job, he would use it all to work on his own company. After almost a year of working this way, he quit his full-time job and launched his own children’s book company.

During his role at his full-time job, he had succeeded in making a greater impact in the company than most of his other colleagues who were planning to work there for several more years.

If you want your team to continue developing an entrepreneurial attitude and exhibit a greater responsibility towards your company’s success, there are a few things that you can do.

Action Description
Be thoughtful in your leadership Managing employees with an entrepreneurial spirit requires  more transparent and approachable leadership instead of simply distributing tasks.
Allow your team to work independently Entrepreneurs work best when there aren’t suffocating and unnecessary rules. The successes that entrepreneurs create far outweigh the challenges of working with them.
Encourage and accept fresh ideas and solutions If the ideas that they offer are not useful, coach them to think critically and relevantly.
Delegate projects based on expertise Make your team grow by challenging them to work on projects that require critical thinking.
Be generous with time offs and adjusted schedules Employees who are granted more flexibility in choosing their work hours tend to use their time at work wisely and end up being more productive. (Important question for managers – do you want your employees to fake busyness or be genuinely productive?)
Hold them accountable Entrepreneurs thrive on outcomes. Let them be responsible for their successes and failures and guide them to think of effective solutions when they fail.

The right mix of leadership will help employees succeed and that, in turn, will result in greater success for the company. Those who don’t fit in will leave, and those who stay will excel. You will maximize resources, get more accomplished and overall have less managing to do. 

It’s true that there will still be those who will not turn entrepreneurial and will not take ownership of projects despite getting every opportunity to grow. They need to be managed differently.

If you have a great team, encourage them to be entrepreneurs. When you have a new hire, the work culture that you set with them will determine how engaged they are with the company’s success. Young professionals are often easier to mold than seasoned employees. Train them, coach them and let them work independently if you truly want to foster entrepreneurs and result in greater success.


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The Overseas Magazine Editor

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