How Can Workplace L&D Help Employees Develop an Entrepreneurial Mindset?

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An entrepreneurial mindset is now a highly valued trait among employees. And you don’t need to wait for this potential to manifest on its own. You can proactively deploy learning and development (L&D) initiatives in your organization to nurture latent leaders and innovators. In this article, we discuss:

The value of entrepreneurial mindsets at work
Three ways L&D can help cultivate the entrepreneurial mindset
Why a beginner’s mindset is also necessary
As we move further into the digital era, organizations are fast realizing the importance of soft skills in their workforce. For instance, LinkedIn named creativity among the top skills for 2019, owing to its role in problem-solving, conflict resolution, and driving growth.

As organizations start reinforcing soft skills through L&D, a core area of focus is potential for entrepreneurship. An “entrepreneurial mindset” can help identify new growth paths within the organization, allowing employees to decide how their career progresses. This can go a long way in reducing attrition and while also contributing to the bottom line.

The Value of an Entrepreneurial Mindset in the Workplace
Entrepreneurs are significant contributors to the global economy. In the U.S. alone, small businesses led by entrepreneurs comprise 49.2% of private sector employment.

These individuals are open to new ideas, eager to give back to their community, and quickly correct course when faced with possible failures. Despite the high failure rate of startups, it is the “entrepreneurial mindset” that drives innovators to pursue new initiatives.

Within the organization, individuals possessing entrepreneurial qualities can contribute significantly to the strategic growth of the organizations. This quality can also make them potential leaders in the company.

Leading organizations recognize this, value entrepreneurial mindsets, and nurture them through L&D programs.

For instance, Google encourages its employees to dedicate 20% of their time to passion projects related to Google.

HCL Technologies has shown its support for entrepreneurship-ready employees in its “Ideapreneurship program.” In this program, each employee is considered to be an ideapreneur, with the opportunity to ideate and create solutions that solve customer problems.

Led by these instances, organizations can proactively foster entrepreneurial qualities in their employees.

3 Ways L&D Can Be Deployed to Build a Culture of Entrepreneurship
Being an entrepreneur isn’t only about having exceptional leadership skills. These individuals are ready to take difficult decisions, and they bring exceptional foresight to a situation. They are also not risk-averse.

In many ways, these qualities can be honed through L&D in the workplace. Here’s how:

1. Train to connect on a “humane” level, with a keen understanding of personal traits

What looks good on paper does not always play out as expected in the real world.

For example, a developer may decide to use a lower-value feature due to budget and product considerations, without factoring in end-user needs.

This happens when employees do not have a clear insight into the purpose of the company/product and its vision.

To address this, passion and empathy are critical – they are vital components of the entrepreneurial mindset.

How can L&D help build these qualities? Immersive technologies such as virtual reality can be used to develop these soft skills. These technologies allow employees to simulate different environments and observe reactions before they implement their ideas in the real world with real consequences.

By stepping into the shoes of the end user, employees can develop the empathy that is important for an entrepreneurial mindset.

2. Enable the habit of “micro-decision-making” in employees

Reaching a goal often depends on the small steps taken at key moments. Entrepreneurial success is also led by the ability to break down large-scale decisions into small, viable steps.

Offering learning modules that set small targets linked to the overall learning objective can help employees develop the habit of micro-decision-making. The employee can be encouraged to “level-up” across different courses and tests, reaching their desired goal by taking micro-decisions at each level.

Not only does a gamified pathway like this make learning more interesting, but it also teaches the power of small, in-the-moment decisions, which is crucial for the development of the entrepreneurial mindset.

3. Instill hard skills and invest in skill tests to cement on-ground confidence

Having a vision for the future and preparing for it is another key aspect of the entrepreneurial mindset. This means being aware of the latest technologies that have become central to the development of products and services and are what experts call the future of work.

So, picking up the basics of technologies such as cloud computing, artificial intelligence, and robotic process automation (RPA) can prepare them to work for a future driven by these technologies.

Employees can be made to quickly upskill through Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs), which do not require heavy investments from the organization.

In addition, organizations should also encourage continuous learning and training in their specific domain/industry through a well-crafted, in-house L&D program. This will empower employees to take strategic decisions with confidence.

Importantly, cutting-edge data analytics can help to assess employee personality traits, behavioral patterns, and emotional responses to high-pressure scenarios. By using analytics tools and solutions to effectively screen employees for entrepreneurial mindsets, companies can offer an unbiased career progression roadmap, accurately identify entrepreneurship-ready employees, and link L&D strategies nurture these employees for leadership roles in the organization.

Learn more: Leadership Development Strategy in the Era of HR-Tech Innovations – The Digital Role-Play

A Necessary Corollary to the Entrepreneurial Mindset: The Beginner’s Mindset
While it is essential to nurture and teach potential entrepreneurs, it is the beginner’s mindset that will be a differentiator for employees and their organizations.

A beginner’s mindset reflects a propensity for questioning and rethinking prevailing notions, existing norms, and the accepted ways of doing things.

Employees with a beginner’s mindset can identify gaps in current operational models, paving the way for smarter alternatives. In the long term, this will lead to organizational breakthroughs – and ideas that can then be implemented via an entrepreneurial approach!

In other words, the entrepreneurial mindset and the beginner’s mindset are two sides of the same coin. By hiring employees who demonstrate this potential and then using L&D programs to nurture it so they can make more significant contributions, you will create valuable resources for your organization.

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