If you aspire to be a successful intrapreneur, seek a healthy work environment. There are organizations with healthy work environments that energize employees and others that suck the life out of them. Unfortunately, the latter dominate. According to research from Gallup, over the last decade, 75 percent of American workers reported that they were not engaged in their jobs.
Here’s what you should be looking for in a work environment that will help you thrive.
The Right People
First, the person you report to is the most important factor that determines your level of engagement at work. Seek a supervisor who
- has expertise and experience that you respect,
- has a passion for excellence and performance,
- cares about you personally and professionally,
- gets you the resources and tools you need to do your job,
- takes an active role in helping you learn and grow,
- provides honest feedback, and
- lets you know when you do good work.
Your colleagues at work also affect your level of engagement. Look for colleagues whom you will learn from and who view you as a partner they want to help succeed rather than a rival whom they are indifferent to or whom they want to see fail.
The best work environments have employees who exhibit humility. They understand that no one has a monopoly on good ideas because individuals have different experiences and thinking styles. They know that it’s necessary to hear diverse views to get the best thinking out in the open. Look for leaders who keep their teams “in the loop” and who seek the opinions and ideas of their team then consider them before making decisions. These individuals are safe to disagree with because they are motivated to get the job done right rather than always being right themselves.
Marketplace of Ideas
Working in an environment that is a rich, robust marketplace of ideas is important to an intrapreneur’s success. The flow of knowledge throughout an organization boosts innovation as employees connect bits of knowledge and see new business, product or process opportunities. Look for a collaborative culture that has systems in place to support knowledge sharing. Social networking capabilities need to be widely used. Also look for experts from the organization who blog and speak externally. It’s a positive sign that the organization’s employees are engaged in the broader industry marketplace of ideas rather that stuck in an insular culture that is at risk for missing out on critical thinking emerging beyond its walls.
In summary, be intentional about putting yourself in a workplace with a strong supervisor and colleagues, and with a robust marketplace of ideas. Doing so will greatly enhance your ability to drive the introduction of new businesses, products and processes.
Michael Lee Stallard writes and speaks about leadership, employee engagement, productivity and innovation. He is the author of The Connection Culture: A New Source of Competitive Advantage and the primary author of the best-selling book Fired Up or Burned Out. For more information: www.MichaelLeeStallard.com.