Break It Down

Would your managers take more interest in their departments' success if it were their company?
Magazine Contributor
3 min read

This story appears in the January 2000 issue of Business Start-Ups magazine. Subscribe »

It's your company, and nobody cares more about it than you do, right? Probably true, but there's a way to get your managers to care almost as much--and be motivated to adopt your perspective in their operational style.

How do you do it? Through a management method called "intrepreneurship," a concept first developed in big companies a decade ago as a response to declining morale and productivity, says Mickey Adams-Grames, president of ML Adams & Associates LLC, a management consulting firm in Salt Lake City. It was also created to be an alternative to competitive corporate incentive programs that actually pitted managers against each other, often to the ultimate detriment of the company.

As part of her work, Adams-Grames has adapted the concept to small and midsized companies by taking this basic approach: Managers are taught to view every other person in the company as their customer; they are totally responsible for everything in their departments, including financial issues; they share in the company's profits; and they are both in control and accountable for their area of responsibility.

"Control of the dollars creates true accountability," Adams-Grames says. "Budgets are no longer somebody's guesswork with every number padded; they are realistic."

Adams-Grames recommends a two-fold profit-sharing system to make intrepreneurship work: Designate a portion of profits that managers can earn for themselves and another portion they can spend on capital improvements in their departments. The results? In one company Adams-Grames consults for, managers decide investing all capital improvement funds in one department's computer system would most benefit the company overall. "As they got into this, they began looking to win over the guy in the next department," she says.

Don't expect your managers to have the financial background necessary to implement such a program. If they don't, you can get the training they need from a management consultant or perhaps even at your local community college. Also, Adams-Grames recommends regular financial meetings with your managers so they can see what's happening in all the departments and have the opportunity to ask questions and get comfortable with the process. If you bring in a consultant to help you, be sure he or she has expertise in both financial and management consulting and has done this sort of training in the past.

Jacquelyn Lynn left the corporate world more than 13 years ago and has been writing about business and management from her home office in Winter Park, Florida, ever since. Contact her at

Contact SourceML Adams & Associates LLC, (801) 486-5552,

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