What if 4 Employees in 10 Were Intrapreneurs?

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There’s an excellent article in Forbes on-line:  “Beyond Employee Engagement–Why One Intrapreneur Is Worth A Hundred “Engaged” Employees”, by Larry Myler. Read it by clicking here:  http://www.forbes.com/sites/larrymyler/2013/09/13/beyond-employee-engagement-why-one-intrapreneur-is-worth-a-hundred-engaged-employees/

As Myler’s article states, an intrapreneur has reached a higher tier of engagement and “…this higher tier is … where people are not only willing but also able to create unexpected value.”


1. Are “aware of the bigger picture, including strategic goals, customer desires, competitive threats and the need for continuous improvement.”

2. “Act like leaders by creating value through cost-reducing and revenue-increasing innovations.”

In addition, Gallup has completed their annual survey, the mother of all engagement surveys, and the report is chock-full of useful information for leaders.  You can find the report, State of the American Workplace Employee Engagement Insights for U.S. Business Leaders  and download your own copy at www.gallup.com.   Gallup’s survey determined that engaged employees make the following additional impact as they:

3.  Willingly go the extra mile because of their strong emotional commitment.

4.  Build new products and services, generate new ideas, develop new customers, and ultimately contribute to the growth of the company.

Another key area of interest to all of us is Gallup’s information on the impact of engagement on business results.  Here are some key data points:

  • The top 25% of teams (well managed) have 50% fewer accidents than the bottom 25% (poorly managed)
  • The top 25% of teams (well managed) have 41% fewer quality defects than the bottom 25% (poorly managed)
  • Poor managers create disengagement, resulting in too few engaged employees, less safe workplaces with more quality defects and higher healthcare expenses, costing the U.S. between $450 billion to $550 billion per year.
  • Engagement is strongly connected to productivity, profitability, turnover, safety incidents, employee theft, absenteeism, quality defects and customer satisfaction.     
  • Engagement levels have hardly budged since 2000.
  • 70% of employees in the U.S. are not engaged or are actively disengaged.
  • Although 30% are rated as engaged, Only 22% are engaged and thriving.  

Myler recommends focusing on moving the (small) percentage of somewhat engaged employees to the engaged/intrapreneur level, — due to the challenges leaders face in building engagement. Unlike Myler, we believe that the right leadership actions can result in a much higher percentage of people becoming engaged, adopting the intrapreneurial mindset.

In another Forbes article published on July 23, 2013 by Meghan Casserly, “10 Talent Management Lessons Every Company Should Embrace” research states that “four in ten workers would welcome the opportunity to take on an intrapreneurial role within their company, but that just 12% of companies encourage the trend.”  That finding is certainly making a statement about the quality of management skills and the state of organization cultures in many U.S. businesses.

Now that we have reviewed some data, defined engagement and demonstrated its impact on business, we’ll share information on ways leaders can develop engagement and an intrapreneurial mindset.  Following are key actions (KA) we’ve identified.  These are not in any particular order.

KA: Hire the right people, for positions that utilize and grow their strengths and desired skill-sets.

KA: Seek out and remove organizational barriers to performance.  Set the stage for your people to be successful by communicating with other managers as appropriate, especially at times when employees may be taking on some new responsibilities.

KA:  Involve your people in aligning your organization (i.e. work and processes) with the business strategy, in particular with the company’s value proposition; this helps to identify and eliminate obstacles inherent in procedures, processes and systems, thereby making it easy or even S.O.P. to add value for the customer.  See our article about Southwest Airlines at http://wp.me/p3Hapd-63 .

KA: Build a personal strategic understanding among each person in your organization. Myler’s article hits the nail on the head in explaining the value of building understanding in areas such as the value proposition and key competitors. (click here to read our related post at  https://prismperspectivesgroup.wordpress.com/2013/07/27/building-an-understanding-of-the-strategy/ ).

KA:  Remember that engagement is not just satisfaction or happiness, and that taking actions to build those feelings can improve the work environment but the results will probably will not rise to the level of engagement, which is more about passion or joy found in the doing of the work itself.

KA:  Apply what we’ve learned from Fred Herzberg, Abraham Maslow, Chris Argyris and other motivation experts, to minimize dissatisfaction and enable employees to motivate themselves.

KA:  Connect your people to the business strategy in a way that each can relate to his/her work, and provide feedback and opportunity for learning and growth in their work-related areas of interest.  Use metrics that help people stay focused on adding value. We need to provide both autonomy and support.

KA: Make engagement a daily priority for managersEstablish employee-manager-team relationships based on trust, mutual respect and inclusiveness. Focus on employee’s strengths rather than on improving weaknesses eliminates active disengagement and could actually double the number of employees in the country who are engaged.

Developing an intrapreneurial mindset requires considerable effort by leaders, but the ROI is value-adding performance, and according to Gallup, including significantly higher productivity, profitability, and customer ratings, less turnover and absenteeism, and fewer safety incidents.

Employees who are somewhat engaged, not-engaged and disengaged are unable to develop the mindset and passion of an intrapreneur.   Somewhat engaged employees may fulfill their job responsibilities and support management, but don’t take action to identify needs, anticipate problems, and prevent and solve problems.   And, as Myler states, disengaged employees “foster stagnation and the status quo” or, worse, “destroy value and harm organizational culture.”

It’s important to note that where Myler considers intrapreneurship as a step above engagement, we define engaged employees as intrapreneurs. We’ll zoom in on the important similarities in Myler’s article to make our point:  If one intrapreneur is worth a hundred less engaged employees, consider this: What if 4 employees in every 10 in your organization became Intrapreneurs?  That would smash the 80/20 rule to smithereens.  Imagine the impact on business performance.

Casserly suggests 10 actions to build engagement.  Read her article using this link: http://www.forbes.com/sites/meghancasserly/2013/07/23/10-talent-management-lessons-every-company-should-embrace/?ss=talent-strategies

Today’s Challenge Question: Many of us have seen Gallup surveys telling us that 70% of employees are not engaged. Think about it; what is the cost of having only 30% of your people engaged, with only 22% acting as intrapreneurs? Can your business afford to depend on such a small fraction of your people to achieve your strategic objectives and to ensure sustainability? Wouldn’t you like to build an engaged intrapreneur mindset among a much higher percentage of your workforce? How will you do it?


Contact us for information and a free initial consultation.

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