Let’s face it — instilling an entrepreneurial spirit across your team doesn’t happen by accident. Stale ideas won’t help a business thrive, especially when there’s no entrepreneurial spirit. Competition is so keen in so many industries that you must separate your business from others. Keeping the entrepreneurial spirit alive the way others have been doing it won’t make you stand out from the pack.
Because of technology — even industries with the same basic precepts are wildly different now. For example, consider the news industry; It might still be about reporters who can ask questions, gather facts, and fashion them into a story.
Watch for information, like podcasts you can share with your team that show the entrepreneurial spirit.
Instead of calling people on the phone, banging out a story on a typewriter, and seeing the final product in a front-page headline, reporters can ask those questions via text or email. And those stories that might have lived in newsprint even a generation ago are now being shared on websites, videos, and podcasts.
The changes happening in the world, fueled by technological advances and people’s expectations around those advances, mean your business needs to be iterating and ideating new ideas on the regular. It’s not enough to be merely good anymore.
People up and down the org chart in a company need to think with an entrepreneurial spirit and anticipate what their customers might want, especially with companies like Amazon actively transforming how we experience our interactions with businesses and, indeed, the world.
We have some tips on instilling the entrepreneurial spirit across your entire team, so everyone can contribute to helping your business thrive.
1. Empower people to share new ideas
Even businesses convinced that there are no new ideas possible in their industries should still take time at least a couple of times a year to think differently. As a result, they could develop fresh, new ideas that might drive the innovation the company needs.
Creative brainstorming sessions can even be more frequently needed if you’re in an industry where new ideas are your lifeblood. So, a company that makes apps might want monthly meetings to generate new ideas.
Conversely, a warehouse business might be surprised with how a process embarked on every six months can unlock incredible innovations.
Like Professor Victor Poirier said in a recent Calendar article, almost everyone possesses innovative traits. While they lie dormant for some, a brainstorming meeting with a skilled facilitator (or even an inviting format) can be the key to getting some really unique ideas to the table.
2. Make sure management listens to every employee
The best way to get great ideas from your employees, and make the entrepreneurial spirit thrive is to make sure each team member feels like they’re heard. Empowering people to share ideas is one thing, but employees will be less motivated to share new ones if management doesn’t show they’re at least considering the ideas.
Listening means that there should be time and space set aside to get employee feedback, but it doesn’t need to be traditional meetings — that’s especially true given the last two years where Zoom screens have added a whole new dynamic to meetings.
As Calendar noted in an article on thinking about how teams should coordinate at this moment, “We need to discover new working methods not to spend all our time in meetings and our weekends and nights on ‘serious work.’” If there’s a tool like Slack that connects an office, that can be a tool for “listening” to what employees have to say.
3. Hire the right people (who won’t be okay with the status quo)
Complacency often happens in office settings because the people within them are complacent. Change can be disruptive and even scary. And as such, many people just want their workplaces to be predictable, reliable, and unchanging. But complacency is the enemy of innovation, as it’s hard for people who want things to stay the same to embrace change.
So, from the outset, when you’re in the hiring process, you want to make sure that you’re thinking about the workplace culture that you want to foster. You should design interview questions that gauge how willing candidates are to embrace change and ensure that your workplace culture encourages that change.
This doesn’t just mean putting systems in place that generate new, actionable ideas and then charting the course for change. It also means rewarding employees who have successfully navigated implementing innovation. And it means acknowledging the mental effort that it takes to execute that.
It means checking in along the way and ensuring that employees are doing well to keep their bearings while putting the change into motion. It also means checking in along the way with all team members to make sure they’re “playing well in the sandbox.”
Of course, managers need to keep an eye on the prize and keep perspective on everything going on. But, they should ensure that employees are genuinely navigating the disruption that might occur when making changes, whether that’s adding new team members or new technology.
Additionally, checking in will help them feel taken care of and will help them to stay invested, even when it’s at its most unsettling.
4. Get different perspectives to instill the entrepreneurial spirit
Part of hiring the right people is hiring a diverse group of people. In doing so, you’re getting a number of different perspectives on the status quo and how it needs to be changed. Of course, there are some obvious markers of different perspectives in our society: race, gender, age, and sexual orientation. But, other kinds of diversity can also be sought after and brought into a team.
Where people grew up and the life experiences they’ve had can shape their worldviews considerably. Consequently, it can be helpful to the composition of a workplace team to have those views in the mix.
Dhristi Shah noted, “Engagement means instilling a sense of welcoming and ownership to the employees. When employees are effectively engaged within their organization, they care more about it. They are involved and focused on the well-being of the organization and to help it grow rather than just a monthly paycheck.”
That means as you’re assembling a team, you not only want diversity — but considerable diversity, as opposed to just seeking a single person representing a particular group of people to tick a diversity box. Think about who you’re bringing on. Consider how the new employees will be able to relate to the existing team. And think about how they’ll help each other feel engaged and bring forth their ideas.
5. Encourage and reward good ideas
Employees might be highly invested in a company and its culture. But, they’re going to respond better in a culture where there are tangible rewards for what they do and accomplish. For example, companies offer performance bonuses as incentives for the work employees do. Reward those who innovate in a way that instills and keeps the entrepreneurial spirit alive — and well — in your business.
So, if you’re seeking good ideas from your employees, it stands to reason that you should offer some sort of reward for ideas that will drive the company forward.
In his employee engagement article, Shah also pointed out, “No matter how much you’re paying to your employees, if they do not feel valued and recognized within the company, they won’t stick beside the company. So every company needs to follow a proper recognition structure where the employees’ hard work is brought out in front of everyone.”
So, it’s not just about an employee feeling acknowledged by the management team; It’s also about an acknowledgment that engenders peer recognition. What that reward actually consists of is for you to determine. However, the recognition that comes with it is an essential component of the reward that shouldn’t be overlooked.
Keeping the Entrepreneurial Spirit Alive
An entrepreneur is only as good as the team they work with. If you have a solid group of people working towards your shared goal, you have a chance of succeeding.
But when businesses start and fail every day, you need to ensure you’re instilling an entrepreneurial mindset in your employees. This way, they incorporate it into everything they do to truly help your company succeed.