ID-100162760Ever realize that, the more responsible a team leader becomes, the more isolated you may feel as an attorney?  Does it seem like they are too busy to meet with you or help with projects?  Do you even sometimes feel like they don’t need you anymore?

During our Team Empowerment call yesterday, we were discussing the concept of an intrapreneur.  An intrapreneur is a team member who may not own part of a business legally or financially but interacts with it like an owner.  They’ve moved past employee mentality to have big-picture conversations such as ROI, capacity and profit margins.  (Stay tuned for future posts exploring how to transition to being an intrapreneur.)

Sometimes moving into that place of intrapreneurship – an exciting place of empowerment and leadership – can also be a lonely place.  Often a team member will have feelings of not quite “fitting” with either side.  The team begins to see them as “the boss,” and they slowly see changes in conversations and levels of inclusion in team things.  They aren’t “one of the team” any longer.  The team likes them, respects them and admires them – but they aren’t a peer any longer. The attorney starts to feel unneeded by that “key player,” and doesn’t get as much time for “gotta minutes,” because the key player is just moving gunk and making stuff happen. And while this isn’t a bad thing for someone who is moving forward, it can leave the team member feeling like they are in it alone and not sure where to go for peer-to-peer collaboration and support.

Entrepreneurs experience this all the time.  Steve Jobs told the truth when he said entrepreneurs must be willing to be misunderstood for long periods.  We are learning more and more that this applies to the intrapreneur as well.  As a new kind of employee, they don’t have a ton of resources to turn to for guidance or leadership.  They don’t qualify for many of the business owner organizations and don’t really fit in most of the employee groups.

When you realize you have a great team member transitioning into an intrapreneur, it’s crucial that you support their growth so they don’t slip backwards.  They are moving into uncharted territory and need a path and plan to support their stability.  Here are some suggestions:

  1. Schedule weekly meetings with them to check in on goals, challenges and big-picture conversations.  Staying connected and allowing them access to you is essential to keeping them in the bigger picture.
  2. Be specific with measurable goals.  We all need to know where we are winning and where we are missing the mark, and we can only do that with measurement.  Build in time to review the measurements and discuss how to keep winning and how to improve on the misses.  Be clear that missing a mark doesn’t mean the employee screwed up or is doing a bad job.  You are simply measuring, adjusting and correcting to achieve success.  For example, your intrapreneur is responsible for getting 30 people to each monthly workshop you do.  You may find when you review the numbers that you need to change your advertising method, because one newspaper you advertise in is not returning any results.  This doesn’t mean the team member messed up.  In fact, measuring, tracking and adjusting based on this information is the way to obtain success.  And it leaves the team member much more in control and a part of the solution than just feeling like they are failing with no idea what to do about it.
  3. Find a forum for them to participate with like-minded team members who are also up to big things.  Most successful entrepreneurs have coaching programs, organizations, etc. where you go to hang with colleagues – both for the education and training you receive, and for the sharing of ideas and inspiration you get from your peers.  Give your intrapreneur the same resource and see how they flourish.  Simply letting them know they aren’t alone and providing them a community of like-minded intrapreneurs is a gift of priceless value that will deliver a tremendous ROI.

Contact us if we can help you learn more about hiring and keeping great employees.

by Laney Lyons-Richardson

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