What makes a perfect employee

Updated: Tuesday October 15, 2013 MYT 12:44:50 PM

What makes a perfect employee

BY ELISA DASS

Branson: ‘The idea perceived as most profitable should be given an opportunity to be seeded, watered and grown!’

I HAVE a group of friends who often joke about what makes the perfect “employee” – the yes-man; the one who doesn’t fight very hard for promotions or remunerations, takes on extra work based on empty promises and is afraid to venture out of the company in fear that no one would “appreciate” them as much elsewhere. These remarks were, of course, made with the underlying message that our perfect employee friends should be more courageous to venture into something on their own. Needless to say, these jokes are made by the entrepreneurs in our midst who have it set in their minds that they would not work for another entrepreneur again. These courageous friends of ours have definitely braved the seemingly scary world of not having a constant stream of income, having an endless stream of profitable ideas, and absolutely enjoy not having any anxiety about year-end appraisals!And not surprising to most of us, there’s always those sitting on the fence – people with great profitable ideas but like the security of being employed, namely, the intrapreneurs.

With the conclusion of the recent 4th Global Entrepreneurship Summit, the call for more focus on raising entrepreneurs has become louder. Closely linked to entrepreneurship are innovation, resources and risk appetite – what I’d like to term the “Entrepreneur’s Trinity.” The thing, however, is that while this “E-Trinity” is ideal for growing any business, we often find many within an organisation who are excited about innovation but may have limited resources and medium risk appetite. Thus, organisations should really start looking at growing their business via intrapreneurs within their company who can be their source of innovation and growth, while supporting them in different ways.

I remember some years back when I shared a profitable idea with the organisation I was working for. It was an idea that had nothing to do with my job, yet would have fitted very well into the organisation’s string of businesses. It was welcomed with much enthusiasm by my mentor, HR and some key stakeholders as well as the visionary himself. Unfortunately, the idea came to a major roadblock when they requested for resources to be borne by me. Hence, while I was innovative, I did not possess the resources to implement my idea nor was I at a place to take the risk to leave a salaried employment – an obvious case of the missing E-Trinity. Consequently, I began to wonder if organisations and employees would grow faster and be more satisfied if intrapreneurship was encouraged.

Every other management guru today talks about the lack of innovation in organisations. Among those who have successfully cultivated such a culture are companies like Google, LinkedIn and 3M. Coincidentally, these are also organisations known for their support and active development of intrapreneurs.

For those new to this term and have yet to Google it since the beginning of this article, in the simplest way possible, intrapreneurs basically refer to those working in an organisation who think of growing the business by monetising ideas, regardless of whether it’s officially a part of their job or not. The late Steve Jobs described his intrapreneurial team in Apple Inc as “… a group of people, going, in essence, back to the garage, but in a large company.”

Here are some thoughts I’d like to leave with you about stepping up your game in growing your organisation through an often neglected group of employees in Malaysia.

·Let’s be intrapreneurs ourselves! Often times, HR hides behind the workload of processes, recruitment and endless operational functions. Although we have grown to be “strategic” in our approach through Organisation Development, let’s go one step further to consider how HR can have or grow profitable ideas through the intrapreneurs that we will select, enhance, embrace and support and leverage.

·Let’s redefine talents. HR practitioners should go beyond just focusing on high performers – those who exceed their KPIs. Instead, can we also look at the intrapreneurs within the organisation who may or may not have exceeded their KPIs, but have great ideas brewing within them that can be turned into profitable projects or businesses but have nowhere to nurture it. This simply means that instead of just having a high-performing talent pool, we should, perhaps, now also look at having a highly profitable pool of intrapreneurs.

·Let’s actively search for intrapreneurs in our midst! Create a culture that encourages ideas to be put forward. Google allows their intrapreneurs 20% of their work hours to just chill and spill ideas! Make it a safe place for crazy, wild and silly ideas to be thrown back and forth. The only requirement is that it must be profitable. Get these budding intrapreneurs to pitch their ideas to a select committee before agreeing to support it!

·Let’s motivate intrapreneurs to be intrapreneurs! While these potential entrepreneurs have great ideas, there are definitely reasons why they are still salaried in your organisation and not out there making their ideas happen for themselves! Some of them might not be big risk takers or cannot afford to take the risk with their given situation. So, create that platform for them to explore and make mistakes, but hold them accountable at the same time for the ideas presented and resources invested from the organisation. As Sir Richard Branson says it cleverly, companies should have intrapreneurs, employees who are “… given freedom and financial support to create new products, services and systems, who do not have to follow the company’s usual routines or protocols. The idea perceived as most profitable should be given an opportunity to be seeded, watered and grown!”

·Fund your intrapreneurs! One of the other reasons your intrapreneurs are still with you is that they do not have the resources required. Some experts recommend that each organisation have an annual “Intrapreneur Budget” to support the selected projects to reduce the approval-implementation gap. Take a chance on them!

·Here’s the real challenge: reward your intrapreneurs like how entrepreneurs would be rewarded! Give them a share of profits in the ideas that they have originated and executed! If it makes money, then let them have a stake in it! In this way, they would have a sense of ownership to ensure that the idea is successful! Don’t be afraid to let them be financially rewarded! This will encourage more intrapreneurs to step up as well! And when competition for the best ideas gets tough in your organisation – that’s a very healthy sign of growth!

If you’re in doubt, just try to imagine a world without intrapreneurs. That would mean no PlayStation, no Post-its, no Virgin Atlantic (which means no inspiration forAirAsia) and no Gmail! Would you search for, support, fund and reward the next person who may change the life of millions? Think about it …

Elisa is married to an entrepreneur whose idea bank never seems to exhaust. She strongly believes everyone with a great idea should have the opportunity to have someone believing in their idea enough to invest in it and grow it! Elisa can be reached at: elisadass@leaderonomics.com.

About bambooinnovator
Kee Koon Boon (“KB”) is the co-founder and director of HERO Investment Management which provides specialized fund management and investment advisory services to the ARCHEA Asia HERO Innovators Fund (www.heroinnovator.com), the only Asian SMID-cap tech-focused fund in the industry. KB is an internationally featured investor rooted in the principles of value investing for over a decade as a fund manager and analyst in the Asian capital markets who started his career at a boutique hedge fund in Singapore where he was with the firm since 2002 and was also part of the core investment committee in significantly outperforming the index in the 10-year-plus-old flagship Asian fund. He was also the portfolio manager for Asia-Pacific equities at Korea’s largest mutual fund company. Prior to setting up the H.E.R.O. Innovators Fund, KB was the Chief Investment Officer & CEO of a Singapore Registered Fund Management Company (RFMC) where he is responsible for listed Asian equity investments. KB had taught accounting at the Singapore Management University (SMU) as a faculty member and also pioneered the 15-week course on Accounting Fraud in Asia as an official module at SMU. KB remains grateful and honored to be invited by Singapore’s financial regulator Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) to present to their top management team about implementing a world’s first fact-based forward-looking fraud detection framework to bring about benefits for the capital markets in Singapore and for the public and investment community. KB also served the community in sharing his insights in writing articles about value investing and corporate governance in the media that include Business Times, Straits Times, Jakarta Post, Manual of Ideas, Investopedia, TedXWallStreet. He had also presented in top investment, banking and finance conferences in America, Italy, Sydney, Cape Town, HK, China. He has trained CEOs, entrepreneurs, CFOs, management executives in business strategy & business model innovation in Singapore, HK and China.

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