Intrapreneurs - Fostering Change from the Inside Out

By Kevin Wilhelmsen Dean, University of Phoenix School of Business | October 09, 2016

Many of today's largest and most successful companies started as nothing more than an idea, backed by a person brave enough to take the leap and follow a dream.

Often companies have no further to look than their own workforces to find innovators who will push them forward. They are called "intrapreneurs," and despite their impact on business and culture, managers often struggle to identify and grow these passionate individuals who are hard-working and filled with ideas that could drive positive change.

Intrapreneurs are can-do, take-charge innovators who focus on strengthening the organizations for which they work. They are change makers who offer revolutionary approaches. They are the edgy counterparts to entrepreneurs who are likely to push through a bold, fresh idea internally that completely dismantles the "strategic" plan – and pushes the company forward to new heights.

Google's Gmail and Starbuck's Frappacinno are two of the most widely known examples of products that are the result of intrapreneurs. But intrapreneurs are not just creators of buzzworthy consumer products, they are also employees who find new ways to create efficiencies, improve processes, identify new revenue streams or find better ways to engage customers.

From enhancing online booking, innovating check-in/check-out policies, revamping loyalty programs, enriching guest service, improving social engagement and influencing customer preference, the hotel industry is ripe with opportunities for intrapreneurship. The nature of today's technological advances within the industry alone should compel leaders to think outside the box on hiring and employee retention strategies. This can help ensure the organization has the right human capital to not only keep up with the latest industry developments, but also the talent to anticipate and introduce them first.

Creating an Intrapreneurial Culture

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Guest Service: A Culture of YES

In a recent global consumers report, 97% of the participants said that customer service is a major factor in their loyalty to a brand, and 76% said they view customer service as the true test of how much a company values them. And since there is no industry more reliant on customer satisfaction than the hotel industry, managers must be unrelenting in their determination to hire, train and empower the very best people, and to create a culture of exceptional customer service within their organization. Of course, this begins with hiring the right people. There are people who are naturally service-oriented; people who are warm, empathetic, enthusiastic, pleasant, thoughtful and optimistic; people who take pride in their ability to solve problems for the hotel guests they are serving. Then, those same employees must be empowered to solve problems using their own judgment, without having to track down a manager to do it. This is how seamless problem solving and conflict resolution are achieved in guest service. This willingness to empower employees is part of creating a Culture of Yes within an organization.  The goal is to create an environment in which everyone is striving to say “Yes”, rather than figuring out ways to say, “No”. It is essential that this attitude be instilled in all frontline, customer-facing, employees. Finally, in order to ensure that the hotel can generate a consistent level of performance across a wide variety of situations, management must also put in place well-defined systems and standards, and then educate their employees about them. Every employee must be aware of and responsible for every standard that applies in their department. The April issue of the Hotel Business Review will document what some leading hotels are doing to cultivate and manage guest satisfaction in their operations.