How to identify, attract and retain potential intrapreneurs?

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With the evolution of society and the broad access to information, creativity has ceased to be an exclusive “gift” of the artistic class and is now seen as a skill that can be worked on and developed. In this way, a company can be entirely composed of creative people; they just need to be trained and stimulated for it.

As with creativity, entrepreneurship can also be stimulated and trained for. However, this activity comes with a series of challenges that demand specific posture and personal characteristics so that the endeavor is successful. In our last post, we revealed the 3 obstacles to the success of intrapreneurship in companies and explained what this concept, that has been getting the attention of executives, is. Next, we will show you how to find these intrapreneurs within your organization.

Identifying intrapreneurs


First, it is important to bear in mind that every company has people with intrapreneur potential. Identifying them, however, demands constant observation of the workforce, how activities are distributed and how they are executed.

Another fundamental point is that these people are not found only in managerial positions, which requires those responsible for finding these talents to analyze the context from another perspective.

To help in this process, we have listed below 4 important characteristics of intrapreneurs.

Intrapreneurs are idea greenhouses.

When having contact with some stimulus that can generate an idea, or by seeing an opportunity in a seemingly uninteresting idea, intrapreneurs get them stuck in their heads. They analyze them and think of different ways of putting them into practice, even before talking to anyone about it. When sharing their findings, they usually already have an action plan ready or even something entirely new based on the initial idea.

Money is not the motivation.

Like any other collaborator, intrapreneur s want to be rewarded fairly, but this is not their goal when tackling a challenge. Recognition and the possibility of having influence and freedom are their main motivations. Monetary compensation and possible awards may work as a metric of the intrapreneur’s performance, but not as a goal.

Intrapreneurs are not afraid of taking chances and making mistakes.

One of the most important characteristics of intrapreneur ship is the agility of startups and a different mentality with regards to mistakes (“make mistakes quickly to get it right quickly”). The intrapreneur understands that in order to do something truly innovative it is necessary to break the routine, whether it is to do something unprecedented, or to improve something that already exists. This implies making some (or several) mistakes along the way and learning from them until the ideal model is found.

Intrapreneurs are ethical and authentic.

Forget that aristocratic behavior usually associated with successful businessmen: a study released by Harvard Business Review showed that although intrapreneurs exude self-confidence and self-knowledge, they also have humility as a common characteristic.

Only the beginning

By identifying these profiles, however, the work is far from over. Even if the employees and ideas selected are considered appropriate, the employee in question is not a businessman or entrepreneur with years of experience.

The support of management and recognition are essential so he feels motivated to move forward and stay in the mindset to create other initiatives. Otherwise, he may realize that the concept of intrapreneurship adopted by the company is nothing but innovation theatre, and will quickly lose interest.

These two aspects are also important to draw new intrapreneurs. Usually, employees recommend companies to friends with similar values and interests. But this recommendation only happens if their experience within the company is positive; in other words, intrapreneurs attract intrapreneurs.

The “consultancy” and collaboration of intrapreneurs can also help leaders formulate the right questions to ask aspiring intrapreneurs and even new candidates that didn’t come via recommendations, as mentioned above. Time and experience, in this case, become strong allies in this search.

Do you know who the intrapreneurs are in your company?

The research released by Harvard Business Review also showed that in an organization with 5000 employees, there are, at most, 250 innate innovators. Of those, at least 25 are big intrapreneurs that can build the next big business for the company. It is up to the company’s leaders to keep an eye on their employees and create programs to stimulate and retain them.

Eyes open and minds working is the motto for anyone who wants to find these needles in a haystack.


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