Creative spirit needs coaching

To
encourage entrepreneurship we have to develop alternative ways of carrying out
graduate inductions, says Binna Kandola

Many
organisations are concerned about entrepreneurship – in particular, that it is inhibited
by overly complex and systematised cultures.

International
branding, competencies and other harmonising initiatives are all regarded as
potential threats.

It
is also unlikely that classic entrepreneurs are being recruited, as their
personality type does not sit easily with employers. All the more reason then
to develop entrepreneurial instincts in future managers through training to
ensure greater creativity. Yet in a recent study we found that existing
graduate induction methods are more likely to produce conformists rather than
innovators.

In
more than two-thirds of the organisations surveyed, induction is carried out in
groups, has a fixed timetable and follows a specific sequence of steps. It
builds on the entering identity of graduates, who are groomed by experienced
members of staff. Based on the psychological model we used, such a “custodial”
approach boosts graduates’ satisfaction and loyalty by increasing their
organisational knowledge. But the downside is that it also encourages adherence
to the status quo and ultimately leads to them behaving more traditionally in
their roles.

The
results suggest that to foster innovation we should look at alternative ways of
inducing graduates. That is not to say employers should leave them to their own
devices. Without the right interventions graduates can become demotivated and
leave, so in the first two to three months a structured approach is vital. The
emphasis needs to be on understanding the level of support to expect from
co-workers and managers, better role orientation and teaching them techniques
to help develop and bring new ideas to fruition.

A
few weeks later they should be allowed to explore the organisation in a more
individual way and be given scope to experiment within a framework.

Some
key elements are:


An opportunity to creatively shape part of the organisation while taking
calculated risks


Challenging assignments coupled with authority to work in ways outside
organisational norms


Projects requiring teamwork and participative management styles


Encouragement to be systematic and disciplined in being innovative in pursuit
of a distinct mission


Emphasis on high standards in terms of acceptable values and the importance of
reputation, trust, reciprocity and mutual interdependence.

Current
graduate induction methods appear to perpetuate old working practices. If we
are to reverse this trend the need to achieve new and better ways of doing
things must outweigh the need for comfort and security.

For
entrepreneurship to flourish we have to develop people with a “can do”
attitude, who are prepared to disagree constructively and act without fully
knowing where they are going.

Organisations
also have to strike a balance between strategic planning and improvisation and
value diversity, risk taking and learning from mistakes.

Binna
Kandola is co-founder of occupational psychologists Pearn Kandola. He
specialises in diversity, assessment and development programmes and has written
books and research papers on related issues

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