Company executives often appear to be Jekyll and Hyde to regular employees. What do I mean by that? Take the current trend to include “entrepreneurial mindset” on job descriptions.
By including this item, executives are saying they want people who don’t just “do.” They want people who ask meaningful questions, look across disciplines for better opportunities, identify and manage risk, and work hard, oftentimes with long hours. It’s not uncommon to hear, “create an ownership feeling with the employees.”
The problem with this desire is that most employees don’t have any ownership in the business. Their efforts may be rewarded with a bump in pay or a bonus, but those things are not normally directly related to profit. They’re calculated by many different means, but in the end it often comes down to a subjective measure by management about how well they felt individual employees performed.
So what employees hear is that they should work long, hard hours, question the status quo, and take risks. Questioning and taking risks means there will be failure. This fact is inevitable. When an employee fails, he is not rewarded. In fact, he is often punished. His potential raise or bonus is decreased or eliminated.
To add to the confusion, managers often criticize employees for asking questions or offering alternatives to the task at hand. It takes a very strong manager to create an environment in which employees feel safe asking questions or offering suggestions.
Most companies would benefit if all their employees had an entrepreneurial mindset, and felt safe enough to exercise it. When you find yourself including this item on job descriptions, perhaps you might take a step back and look at the management staff in place. Are they strong enough to allow people to question them?
About the author: April Kunzelman spends her days working with the non-profit organization Chemo Cargo, aimed at assisting first-time chemotherapy patients. Connect with April on Twitter as @akunzel and @chemocargo.