Amel Osman, Head of Corporate Practice at Golin MENA, on how both employees and employers need to adopt an entrepreneurial mindset to demonstrate their value.
Across the UAE today, those of us still in employment will fling on our masks, brave the summer heat, and return to our places of work. Filled with a sense of gratitude, and relief, sporting a glow of miraculous wonder, we will count ourselves amongst the lucky ones to have retained our jobs during these now, well, precedented times.
For those of us ‘lucky’ enough to still have jobs, a safe and secure harbor remains a titillating mirage. With many companies seizing the onslaught of Covid-19 as an opportunity to “drain the swamp,” many employees are left wondering, what, and who, is next.
The proverbial “dead wood” has been felled. As we return to bleaker pastures and battle retrenchment, one thing becomes uncomfortably evident. Survival and security are no longer fruits for the fittest, but the spoils of the entrepreneurial and the innovative.
As employees, we need to cast our garb of gratitude aside and adopt a growth mindset. A critical need for survival prevails, and employees must think of ways to not only evidence their commercial value, but establish themselves as purveyors of growth. Balancing freedom to explore opportunities against the demands of the marketplace will be key to longevity in today’s market.
It is important that employees explore new ideas that seem promising, while ensuring that the company’s strategic and financial objectives do not fall by the wayside. A critical skill in adopting an entrepreneurial mindset is mastering the ability to walk the tightrope between the near term and the long term, while remaining focused on the immediate needs of customers – all this without losing sight of market opportunities that might arise. No longer can we only concentrate on understanding and meeting the needs of customers. It is imperative now to have the long sight to anticipate what they will come to learn to want in the future. Understanding, anticipation, and innovation are the cornerstones underpinning tomorrow’s commercial success.
As employers, the time has come to foster a sense of entrepreneurship at every level of an organization. Traditional incentive and reward systems need to be overhauled in favor of a structure that nudges towards the establishment of an entrepreneurial culture. New attitudes towards risk and reward must be fostered and communicated. Risk is no longer something to be feared, managed and mitigated, but encouraged and recompensed. Upholding an entrepreneurial ecosystem calls for companies to reexamine their systems, structures and informal processes. The key to unlocking entrepreneurial potential in employees lies in balancing a sense of timing with a provision for room to grow.
As global corporations, we must strive to stimulate creativity and initiative among our people. We need to overhaul a now defunct achievement and reward framework. Demanding strides in achieving new business targets is one thing. Changing the risk/reward ratio in a meaningful way to stimulate growth through innovative thinking is quite another. You cannot champion initiative unless you’re truly willing to reward it, significantly.
Employees, leaders and organizations will have to work together to achieve an organizational paradox – one where corporate policies and procedures genuinely promote personal freedom, and employees balance their independence in exploring opportunities against the demands of the marketplace.
Once again, the old adage is applicable: finding balance is key. While fostering a thriving entrepreneurial mindset is crucial to survival, it cannot be achieved to the detriment of fiscal health.