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How to recognize and reward entrepreneurial behaviour

By Kathy Enros


The term “startup culture” is often used when referring to the cliché garage-based company in its infancy stages.

Usually a tech company, staffed by recent grads and with a CEO who just celebrated their 25th birthday. Instead, what startup culture really encompasses is a necessary shift from the traditional corporate makeup. As the workforce gets younger, companies find themselves competing for talent who value engaging work environments, policies that value work-life balance and a feeling of satisfaction that they are making a real impact.

You don’t need to be a startup to have this kind of culture – you just need to have the types of employees that have an entrepreneurial skill set and policies that attract creative thinkers. In fact, in order to succeed, the company itself needs to be entrepreneurial so that they’re not being left behind in the market. If you’re not innovating, you’re not succeeding. Open communication and flat hierarchy, collaborative work spaces and the flexibility to be creative is a necessary environment to grow change-agents. These are the people that go above and beyond their job descriptions to achieve transformative change in a way that inspires others to do more. It’s important to reward and nurture change-agents, not only to retain talent, but also to encourage similar behaviour amongst others.


Recruiting change-agents

There are key questions to ask during the recruitment process that can help to identify whether someone is a self-starter. A helpful indicator of whether someone possesses entrepreneurial qualities is if they’re able to provide examples of times when they’ve been a self-starter, no matter how small. Ask about times in the past when they’ve gone above and beyond. Did they start their own company in high school, teach themselves an impressive skill or accomplish a major bucket list challenge? That unbridled energy and passion is what fuels great ideas.


Rewarding and retaining change-agents

Once the right talent is recruited, it’s crucial to provide an environment that rewards and encourages entrepreneurial behaviour within the company. Making a celebrity out of those who exhibit the behaviours you are looking for not only reinforces that talent, but also encourages similar behaviour amongst other employees. Peer-to-peer recognition programs, as well as support and reinforcement from senior management are great ways to encourage star employees. This could include one-on-one time with the CEO as well as mentorship from senior staff members. Public call-outs from peers who appreciate a colleague’s contributions and hard work using a “kudos wall,” is another example.

Finally, taking an active interest in the career goals and advancement of your team is a major factor in increasing employee satisfaction and retaining top talent. Star team members feel a greater alignment between their personal goals and the company’s business objectives when they feel that their career goals are clearly communicated and valued at a senior level. In addition, employees are less likely to seek outside employment if they feel there is the opportunity for growth internally and more often report greater job satisfaction and happiness in their work environment.

Kathy Enros is the vice president of talent at ACL.



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