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6 Steps for Converting Employees Into Intrapreneurs Tapping into an employee's inner entrepreneur is transformative for the individual and the enterprise.

By Heather R. Huhman

entrepreneur daily

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Ninety-three percent of adults think they possess at least some entrepreneurial qualities, according to a new study from University of Phoenix, analyzing responses from 1,000 working U.S. adults surveyed this summer. Additionally, more than half say their organization allows them to think like an entrepreneur.

Employees who think like entrepreneurs, or "intrapreneurs," are more motivated, take ownership of their work, and possess excellent creative problem-solving abilities.

Here are some ways to foster an intrapreneurial mindset among employees:

1. Empower employees.

Employee empowerment was found to have a direct effect on job performance, and an indirect effect on satisfaction and innovativeness, in a study published in the Public Administration Review in April 2013.

Drive innovative thought by empowering employees to make decisions, take charge of projects, and solve problems. Give them the resources and training they need, then set them free, letting them know the team believes in their capabilities.

Related: 'Yes Men' No More: 5 Tips to Grow Engaged and Empowered Employees

2. Prioritize employee relationships.

After surveying 200,000 employees at more than 500 organizations last year, TINYpulse found peers and camaraderie were the top motivator for employees who go the extra mile at work.

Sometimes the best ideas spark when least expected, such as during a good conversation or enjoyable interaction. Even when the team is running low on ideas, having positive working relationships with one another will be the fuel they need to persist. Help the team cultivate these strong relationships.

Schedule after-work activities in which employees can participate and get to know one another better. Exercise together, share meals, and play games to enhance team bonding.

3. Encourage employees to step outside the scope of their work.

The University of Phoenix study found a key issue blocking innovation: 47 percent of employees said they're not encouraged to step outside their scope of work. When employees spend their time doing the same tasks day after day, they become stuck in routine thought.

Encourage involvement in projects outside day-to-day tasks -- in fact, 24 percent of employees surveyed said this would help boost creative thought. Allow them to job shadow someone in another department, or help a team member with something new.

Related: 7 Easy Steps for Encouraging Employees to Take Initiative

4. Host productive brainstorming sessions.

A quarter of workers in the University of Phoenix survey suggested having brainstorming sessions to address organizational challenges and sharing the company vision and goals with all employees to encourage creative thinking.

Meet with employees regularly to brainstorm new ideas and ensure strategies are aligned with organizational goals. Use an app like amazemeet to design compelling meetings with a clear purpose.

5. Emphasize individuality over conventionality.

Environment has big impact on innovative thought. In fact, a 2013 University of Minnesota study shows physical order produces conventional thought. Participants in the study made healthier and more generous choices when in a clean room than when they were in a disorderly room.

But, the disorderly room encouraged breaking convention and tradition -- a key component in innovative thinking.

Not everyone is inspired by the same environment, so not all work spaces should look the same. They should cater to the individual. Allow employees to express their individuality by decorating their workspace in a way that inspires them.

6. Allow ideas time to incubate.

Creative thinking develops in an incubation process, during which unconscious thought takes over, according to a study published in the Frontiers of Human Neuroscience in April 2014. That's why concentrating so hard on solving a problem rarely produces an answer.

But, when employees are allowed to let go and come back to a problem, they have time to let the idea incubate and produce the needed solution.

Sometimes, the most innovative ideas take time. Allow employees to step away and take focus off complicated challenges and issues when they hit a roadblock. Then, unexpectedly, the right answer may come to them.

Related: This Simple Habit Could Be the Secret to Increasing Creativity

Heather R. Huhman

Career and Workplace Expert; Founder and President, Come Recommended

Waldorf, Md.-based Heather R. Huhman is a career expert, experienced hiring manager and president of Come Recommended, the PR solution for job search and HR tech companies. She writes about issues impacting the modern workplace.

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