Yesterday, I wrote about how to solve a company's turnover problem with the overarching principle of establishing an "entrepreneurial spirit" in your culture. In other words, treating your best people like business owners.
It's a principle that the world's best and most profitable company cultures (Google, Zappos, etc.) practice daily.
Today, we're going to dig much deeper and get into the practical aspects of that principle.
When applied consistently, these 9 strategies below will help stop the turnover bleeding that's costing companies a lot of money, not to mention destroying their reputation. (yes, we're looking at you, Glassdoor).
In fact, we have seen that employees that don't like their jobs now may even change their minds about leaving later, becoming willing and engaged co-contributors once the wheels of an entrepreneurial culture are in motion.
The Entrepreneurial Culture in Practice
1. Let employees think and act like business owners.
Employees should feel empowered to make decisions, and employers should let them. That may require a significant shift in the way bosses lead. What I'm saying is, decision-making processes and approvals need to be simplified; leaders need some coaching in how to hand off the reins; and employees need training, coaching and mentoring to help them confidently grab hold of the reins.
2. Minimize the rules.
In thinking like an business owner, you also should minimize the rules. Unnecessary policies coming from bureaucracy stifles the entrepreneurial spirit we talked about in yesterdays' post. If you're the one setting down new policy, my advice is this: go on a rule diet. Better yet, enlist a few people cross-functionally to create a council where you meet just to look for ways to keep the bureaucracy to a minimum.
3. Give people the opportunity to drive like entrepreneurs.
If a team member comes up with an idea that may not be part of their "scope of responsibility," help connect them with the right teams and let them bring their ideas to life. Whether you're the boss or a senior co-worker, try to give them that opportunity to drive something. It will expand their skills, thinking and creativity. And....ultimately drive up your engagement scores.
4. Create a recognition program that rewards people for thinking like entrepreneurs.
Reward those employees who are constantly sharing ideas that are simple and small, but still make a significant difference to either the customer experience or company bottom line.
5. Keep the flow of communication coming and going constantly.
As you grow, internal communication gets more complex and naturally suffers. So be intentional about it. If employees are indeed being asked to think like business owners, then they need the access to the same information that owners receive; they need to be brought to the table for input and be included in important conversations; they need a clear understanding of the big picture, strategic goals, changes of direction, and what's going on in the minds of management if the bus route changes; they need to be invited to meet customer and clients, and get early exposure to them even before they become clients.
6. Create a culture of questioning.
Questions fuel the creative process and entrepreneurial mindset. Perhaps you can open meetings with a thought-provoking question. You can create a Wiki page or online community where co-workers can post any question they may have. Or you can pose a question of the month to get everyone focused and thinking about a certain aspect of the business.
7. Give employees the freedom to ask anything.
Leaders should want to foster a transparent culture by allowing for any question to be asked, even the tough ones! Then address them in a town-hall meeting, as uncomfortable as it may feel. This will dramatically increase trust with your employees, and build a collaborate, trustworthy culture. If you want to ensure anonymity when taking the pulse of your organization, try a company like TinyPulse for getting real-time feedback with short, frequent surveys that get high response rates.
8. Have a "no door" policy.
No, not an open-door policy; I mean a no door policy. At companies like HubSpot and Menlo Innovations, execs sit with everyone else in open floor plan workspaces with no walls or cubes. Collaboration and engagement soar once the barriers (physical and emotional) are removed.
9. And finally, set an entrepreneurial example.
As with most elements of a company's culture, the entrepreneurial spirit has to come from the top and from within. Whether you're in upper management or not, setting an example for yourself and your department can always help trigger more responsive, innovative ideas around you. If you're not open to new ideas and new ways of doing things, how can you expect your team to be open to them?