If you look at any company’s value statement, you’ll likely find something about innovation or entrepreneurship. Being “entrepreneurial” is a sought-after characteristic for employees.
But what companies actually want are intrapreneurs. These are employees who behave like an entrepreneur while working within a large organization.
It’s not necessarily a common quality, so it’s important to know what to look for. That way, once you’ve identified intrapreneurs on your team, you can support them to do their best work!
Intrapreneurs and Innovation: Why it Matters For Your Company
Intrapreneurs are employees who have an entrepreneurial spirit, meaning they value innovation and ideas. The entrepreneurial spirit is a mindset that allows people to think outside of the box, take risks, and create new or innovative solutions that benefit their teams and organizations.
And this all matters for a company—a lot. Organizations that value and support intrapreneurs and innovation are able to:
- Create new products or services that meet market needs and demands.
- Stay ahead of their competition by anticipating challenges or changes.
- Build an exciting, fast-paced work environment that values employees for their knowledge and skill.
- Grow and expand at a quicker pace due to innovation and creative problem-solving.
Valuing intrapreneurs and innovation within your team will only help your business succeed. That’s why it’s so important to identify who your intrapreneurs are and how to support them.
4 Characteristics of an Intrapreneur
By defining the characteristics of intrapreneurs, you can be better equipped to identify them on the team. Other than general criteria around being innovative and creative, there are other common characteristics.
Your intrapreneurs will be sponges for knowledge and will constantly take initiative to learn and expand their skills. They might sign up for an online class, ask for mentorship, or read a lot. An intrapreneur loves to gain new knowledge and apply it to their work. They’re always listening to a podcast or watching something new—even Netflix movies are useful to build a better business!
Speak up during meetings
It’s likely they’ve already been thinking of ideas and solutions before the meeting, so they’ll use it as a time to speak out. They’re also likely to lead the charge and rally people around new ideas. For example, there are tons of ways to add some fun to your next Zoom meeting, but it’s the intrapreneur who will think of ideas or rally people to get involved.
Ask a lot of questions
Naturally curious, intrapreneurs are comfortable asking questions like, why do we do it that way? Or, what are the benefits of option A or B?
Focus deeply on what they’re interested in
You might find them working on a side project or staying late to complete something. When they’re engaged in the work and creating something new, they can be highly focused and productive.
Some other intrapreneur characteristics might include leadership, creativity, risk-taking, and passion.
Intrapreneurs may also exhibit classic entrepreneur tendencies like starting a side hustle outside of work hours.
3 Ways to Support Intrapreneurs on Your Team
Intrapreneurs are not one-size-fits-all. The type of company, level of autonomy, or access to resources can either bring out intrapreneurial qualities or hinder them.
If intrapreneurs are not supported at work, they’re likely to take those characteristics and, well, become an entrepreneur! If they can’t fulfill their drive for creating and innovating in their current company, it’s possible they’ll go out and do it on their own.
Therefore, supporting intrapreneurs is a matter of employee retention as well as employee engagement and company success. Hiring top-tier talent in a remote world is competitive and challenging, so retention needs to be top-of-mind for businesses.
Managers and leaders should support intrapreneurs through three avenues:
- Provide autonomy on decisions, projects, and time management: This allows the employee the freedom to create and innovate without micromanagement.
- Resources and technological support: Intrapreneurs need appropriate tools to do their job; a lack of resources can be very demotivating.
- Feedback and guidance: Intrapreneurs will have a ton of ideas—some will work, some won’t. It’s important to give feedback and guidance so that they can move forward with projects rather than get them cut because of constraints unknown to them.
Intrapreneurs are a bit of a rare breed. They have the qualities of an entrepreneur, but work within a company instead of on their own. Their entrepreneurial spirit has major benefits to the team and company, so it’s important to recognize and support them.
Looking for a professional workspace to help your intrapreneurs do their best work? Book a tour of your local Launch Workplace today.