Employees should act like entrepreneurs on the job

For the last few years I've seen an interesting phenomenon regarding a seminar I developed called "You, Inc." At first, the workshop was only offered by professional associations to their membership. In response to downsizing in their industries, these associations wanted to offer career help to their members. But in the last few years, it's the companies themselves who have been asking for help on this topic. At first they were a little skittish about implying that employees could and should take control of their own career development. Now they are openly endorsing what everyone already knows: they can't promise job security and employees themselves should take more control of their career management.

Wise companies have taken the next step and are helping their employees learn how to stay employable. As a company president said, "We want to put the truth right out on the table. If our employees stay up-to-date and add value on their current job, they will have more employment options but we hope they will stay with us. Even if they end up leaving, we think that honest investment in them will pay off while they're here."

A new age has dawned, heralding a partnership between employers and employees. The lines of responsibility are more clearly and more realistically drawn in this new partnership. Employees are expected to be in the front seat of their jobs, not along for the ride, passively hoping that the driver is heading to a place they will like. In other words, they are expected to think and act like entrepreneurs on their current jobs, thus the name, "You, Inc."

Here's what expectations are on both sides of the employer/employee partnership:
Employers want:

1.   "We want you to keep your skills sharp. We just can't afford to keep you if you aren't taking responsibility for staying current."
2.   "You need to add value on your job."
3.   "You need to be customer focused."

Employees want:

1.  "Give me opportunities to learn new skills. Support the learning I initiate and provide state-of-the art training so I can keep my tools sharp."
2.  "If you want me to add value, then include me and inform me."
3.  "Let me define personal growth and success, whether that means taking the technical path, working part-time or choosing the traditional career ladder."

Do you think like an entrepreneur on your job? Are you approaching your job as a freelancer would...making sure you know what results are expected...delivering extra value...marketing your skills so your employer knows how to use you? Here's a quick check:

Sharp Skills:
Are your skills as sharp as those of a freelancer in your field?
Are you attending the professional association meetings in your industry?
Have you read a business book lately besides the Dilbert Principle?
Are you seen as a knowledgeable resource and sought out by others?
Do you know what three things you need to learn next and are you doing anything about it?
Do you know which of your skills your manager values most?

Adding Value On Your Job:
Have you embraced new technologies?
Would your co-workers say that you add value to the organization?
Have you been asked to be on any new committees or task forces?
Have you moved sideways in your organization to learn more or solve a business problem?
Do you have a reputation for doing more than is expected of you?
Do you anticipate problems and take action to resolve them?

Customer Focus:
Do you schedule regular visits with your internal customers to get their input?
Do you have a file full of complimentary notes and letters from customers?
Would you rather inconvenience yourself than see a customer go away dissatisfied?
Do you take personal responsibility to make things "right" for a customer?

For Employers:
Are you encouraging employees to grow and develop?
Do you insist that managers coach and mentor employees?
Do your managers give honest, constructive feedback?
Are you flexible in things such as work schedules, job structure, benefits?
Do you share information about the company and customers?
Are you actively involving employees in the decisions of the company?
Do you have an aggressive communications strategy?

Joan Lloyd is a Milwaukee based executive coach and organizational & leadership development strategist. She is known for her ability to help leaders and their teams achieve measurable, lasting improvements. Joan Lloyd & Associates, specializes in leadership development, organizational change and teambuilding, providing: executive coaching, CEO coaching & leader team coaching, 360-degree feedback processes, retreat facilitation and presentation skill coaching and small group labs. Contact Joan Lloyd & Associates at (414) 573-1616, mailto:info@joanlloyd.com, or www.JoanLloyd.com 
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