Entre-ployment: 13 Ways To Empower Your Employees to Own It

A lot of people dream of being “their own boss”, and by 2040, roughly 75% of Americans will be working as independent contractors. Why does one want to be an entrepreneur and how can we help our current employees achieve it within our company?

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First, why be an entrepreneur? 

Freedom. 

Freedom to follow one’s bliss, live a life without constraints—time or otherwise, pursue a new path, self-actualize, function interdependently. 

Also, a desire to create and deliver something that doesn’t yet exist or create more of something that does—and do it better.

What does it take to be an entrepreneur? 

An inner drive mixed with risk-taking, innovation, vision to fill a void that currently exists, ability to see opportunities and take action, and a lot of passion, persistence, and perseverance. 

So, if that is a description of an entrepreneur, wouldn’t each of us like to have a few in our world, sharing in the vision, and helping us advance our cause / product / service? 

Wouldn’t you want your employees to be mission and vision driven, innovative, bold, creative, and ridiculously persistent, daring, motivated, and hard-working? 

If so, why are you constantly limiting them with counter-intuitive policies, procedures, arbitrary work hours, life-sucking lunch ’n’ learns, gimmicky trainings, and “corporate lingo”?

What if you helped your employees come to life instead? 

What if you created an entire team of entre-ployees? 

How? 

  1. Recruit SWANS. Hire people not because of their fancy degrees or years of experience, but because they are SWANs: Smart, (Hard) Working, Ambitious, and Nice. 
  2. Don’t put your employees in a box. Define a floor and ceiling (i.e. provide a framework, basic structure, and expectations), and then get out of their way. Invite them, even challenge them, to take as much ownership as they’d like. 
  3. 40-Hour-Work-Week is a myth. Most people do not put in more than 2-4 hours of focused work a day. If they do, that’s because they really care. So, don’t keep your employees locked up in a cubicle for 8 hours a day. Instead, ask them to make their time count.
  4. 20% Rule. Ask your people to spend 20% of their work-time innovating, tinkering with new ideas, and creating. Then, ask them all to showcase it monthly. You can even build some healthy competition by offering your team a chance to win … something they would love. (How do you know what they love? Read on.) 
  5. People are people. Your employees aren’t robots. They’re people. Get to know them as such. Find out what truly drives them, what their “why” is, what makes them excited, how they work best, and then give them opportunities to experience all that at work. 
  6. Hump Day, TGIF, and over-management. If you have employees who celebrate the “hump day” and are thanking God that it is Friday (and not thanking for an amazing week) … you have a problem. Try celebrating Mondays. For example, recognize the great work that happened the week before, count the opportunities, look for possibilities … and then watch your team thrive. Also, if you have to over-manage, micro-manage, or mistrust your people, then it’s time for a reset. 
  7. Set the STAGE. There’s a lot of talk about culture in companies. Unfortunately, so often, the conversation is whether the culture is toxic or livable. As a leader, owner, department head … your job is to create a STAGE: Savoring, Thankful, Aspirational, Giving, and Empathic environment. This type of environment creates employees who are like that, too. Wouldn’t you want to have SWANS on the STAGE? 
  8. Benefits 1.0. If a person is sick, cannot feed their family, fears for their livelihood, cannot rest properly, or has no flexibility, why in the world would they give their best to you or, God-forbid, feel free? They wouldn’t and they won’t. Try giving people unlimited sick days, solid health and retirement plans, living-wages, flexibility in terms of hours and telecommute, and plenty of vacation and holiday time. Will they abuse it? First, it’s abuse only if they’re not delivering on the agreed-upon work. Second, if you hired SWANs, they’re too nice to abuse it. And, third, even if they do abuse it—don’t you want that information? That type of person does not belong on your team. 
  9. Benefits 2.0. Give people opportunities to get curious, learn new stuff, try new things, experience joy, have fun, and express themselves. These are basic human needs that keep us all engaged, active, and motivated. Provide people access to resources that allow them to learn, better themselves, experience life, and grow. 
  10. People to Task, Not Task to People. The most important asset are your people. Therefore, match their talents, desires, and passions with the tasks at hand at least 75% of the time. People who do what they love perform better and are more satisfied; people who are forced to do things they don’t enjoy deliver mediocre work. 
  11. The Platinum Rule. Don’t treat people how you want to be treated; treat them how they want to be treated. One shoe does not fit all. 
  12. Think Change. Develop a culture of meaningful, ongoing change that is facilitated as an expression of innovation, creativity, and problem-solving. A new product, a new approach, a new solution are all positive ways to instill a culture—and love—of change within your organization. 
  13. The buck starts and stops with you. You’re it. This means you have the final responsibility for everything in your company—good, bad, and otherwise. It also means you have the responsibility to be honest and raw, ask for help when you need it, evaluate and change your practices, learn new things, get challenged on your way of thinking, and constantly and continually improve (1% a day), both yourself and your business.

One last thing: offer predictability. The reason why most people don’t start their businesses, even when they’d like to, is because they’re afraid of the unknown (another essential human trait). On the other hand, if they’re not threatened in any way and have a degree of predictability that soothes their fears, and also a world of opportunity for freedom, innovation, learning, collaboration, growth, and impact … then you have created entre-ployees. People who care deeply, are driven fiercely, free to create and give of themselves freely, and who will make you successful. 

Have questions about any of these points? Press the reply button, and lets talk. 

Cheers! 

Adi Redzic