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Value: John Warrillow

Managing those with shiny ball syndrome Add to ...

In this final instalment of a six-part series on creating an entrepreneurial culture in your company, I will talk about how to motivate the entrepreneurs on your staff.

Entrepreneurs have a short attention span, which is why, to motivate them, you need to stack goals and their corresponding incentives much closer together than you would for other team members.

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The list of scientific reports proving the shortness of an entrepreneurial attention span is long.

Kathy Kolbe’s personality tests show most entrepreneurial people are high on what she calls “ Quick Start,” which means they start lots of things but finish few of them.

Dr. Michael Kirton developed the Kirton Adaption-Innovation Inventory, which shows entrepreneurs are high on innovation, meaning they are easily distracted by new ideas.

And, according to David Gilwerk of the ADD Coach Academy, “ most entrepreneurs have it (ADHD) – it’s just a matter of degree.”

Managing people with shiny ball syndrome means you have to offer incentive after incentive. Make them wait longer than 90 days to feel the rush of achievement they get from crushing a goal, and you will lose them. They’ll start to dust off the business plan in their top drawer or look around for the next big thing.

Better than quarterly benchmarks, monthly, weekly and even daily goals are recommended since these will allow the ultra-competitive high performer to feel the rush of winning regularly.

In summary, remember these key points for building an entrepreneurial culture:

1. Look for competitiveness. It is the raw material that makes an entrepreneur drive harder than most.

2. Eliminate MBAs from your consideration set of candidates. It’s the fastest way to cull your list of résumés down to the truly entrepreneurial.

3. Hire people with an internal locus of control, which means they believe they are in charge of their own destiny.

4. Manage to a goal (not adherence to a process), and give entrepreneurs a wide sphere of operational freedom to get the result you’re looking for.

5. To get the most from your entrepreneurial team, avoid asking too many questions and focus on sharing experience instead.

6. Stack incentives no further than 90 days apart in order to accommodate an entrepreneur’s naturally short attention span.

Special to The Globe and Mail

John Warrillow is a writer, speaker and angel investor in a number of start-up companies. He is the author of Built To Sell: Creating a Business That Can Thrive Without You, which will be released in April.

Follow on Twitter: @JohnWarrillow

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