The Entrepreneurial Employee™
By Jim Altfeld
Premise: First and foremost, The Entrepreneurial Employee ain’t you! What is meant by that is that the Entrepreneurial Employee may often “think” about leaving and striking out on their own, but they won’t. Why? Because as was stated in Part I, they lack the following:
A. The passion, guts and determination to actually seize upon an opportunity and strike out on their own.
B. The confidence and optimism to think that they will succeed regardless of a lack of resources, either controlled or available.
C. The guts it takes to bear the risk of uncertainty in any economy.
What they do have going for them are these attributes:
D. They really do want to be masters of their own fate. They want to control their own destiny, shape their own future and set their own course.
E. They have the ability to actually see an opportunity.
F. They are participants and players, not spectators and fans. They know how to get their feet wet and their hands dirty and don’t think twice about doing either.
G. They are calculated risk takers, not reckless gamblers.
H. They have a great passion and enthusiasm for what they do.
Simply stated, the Entrepreneurial Employee is not looking to go off and create his own thing. The EE is not looking to use your company as a stepping-stone to start his own thing. S/he wants to own, operate and run your business! The Entrepreneurial Employee is everything you are, minus the guts! Without question, the EE is a rare find, can be a tremendous asset, and can become your eventual successor if you allow it to happen. If you are fortunate enough to find one, you should cultivate, nurture, grow and develop them in hopes that they really will never leave.
Foster an environment that inspires your EEs to achieve their fullest potential and create a culture in which they can thrive.
The first thing about an EE is that they do not want to be lead. They are very mobile, in demand, and are not waiting around to collect their pensions. They know what they’re worth, they know their value and they expect you to know it, too.
Secondly, EE’s are organizationally, very astute. They know how the company is being lead and the strategic direction it is taking.
Third, they are not driven by titles and promotions. It isn’t that they don’t care about status, it’s just that they are intrinsically motivated and are not all that excited about any extrinsic motivation you can offer them. Actually, an extrinsic motivation could actually diminish their own intrinsic motivation. Don’t do it.
Fourth, is that they want instant access to the top decision maker, who is usually the CEO or owner (you). They are aware of their importance to the company, so when they have something important to say, they want to be able to say it to the top.
Fifth, they make a point of staying well connected. Their network is normally very impressive and who they know can be almost as important as what they know.
Points six, seven and eight are the most difficult for a CEO/Owner to deal with. Six, the EE has a very low threshold for boredom. As a result, the onus is on you have to make certain they are being inspired, challenged and engaged, or you are sure to lose them.
Seven, the EE wants to be in control of the decision making that includes the resources s/he will need to successfully get the job done. This means your having to let go and getting the hell out of the way.
Eight, the EE probably won’t say Thank You or show any real sign of appreciation, which can be hard for a CEO/Owner to stomach. There is also a good chance s/he will not recognize your leadership, because they don’t like being lead. Which means you may have to go out of your way to make the independent EE understand his or her interdependence. Or, as Dirty Harry once said, “A man’s gotta know his limitations.”
Overall, the best way to keep an EE is to create an environment where the EE can be independent while being interdependent. An environment that encourages them to experiment, play and even fail.
The real challenge you will face as a CEO/Owner is to quietly demonstrate your expertise, guidance and authority while protecting the EE, sometimes from him or herself. But, without a doubt, you will not only see the EE flourish, but so will your company.