THE BLOG
06/20/2009 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

On the Career Couch: Pink Slip Prevention - Become an Entrepreneur on the Job

By Karen Rosenthal and Stacey Radin

Our nation is in the midst of a 360 degree overhaul. Businesses are forced to adapt to constantly moving pieces and will need to stay on the front line to respond to changing demands immediately. So do you! You need to strengthen your internal positions to retain your job and advance your career. Yes this is possible even in a recession! There are many talented, innovative people who are succeeding right now because they have adopted an entrepreneurial mind set. So what does this mean?

If you think about the typical entrepreneur, they are: innovative, proactive, creative, passionate, constructively fearless, experimental until reaching success, persistent, knowledge-seeking and position themselves as an expert.

How can you use these same strengths to leverage yourself internally? Here's how.

1. Analyze your competitor's strengths. Competitors can be defined as internal or external. Internally, know who you will be competing against to retain or advance. What talent do you have that supersedes others? Is that talent visible and if not, are you leveraging it? This relates to the second aspect of "competition." In your industry, what organizations are competitors? What are they doing that your company is not? Based on this "research", what can you be doing that will be instrumental in making your organization more competitive in the market? Use your knowledge and insight to develop a working plan in progress and recruit others to help you innovate.

2. Now is the time to be bold. Constructive fearlessness bounded only by unique creativity is the key to unlocking one's potential. Organizations are open to creative ideas and thoughts. One of my clients shared with me recently that their organization is now encouraging non sales people to share ideas to the sales division. No idea is considered "silly" or "stupid" anymore. Companies need to innovate and need their employees to drive this process. Speak up.
Silence is no longer golden.

• Even if you think your idea is a "fantasy", brainstorm with your colleagues, particularly those in other divisions. Sometimes, the best ideas start with the "illogical" and are shaped into a logical reality. Using an entrepreneurial mind set, set out to be an explorer or inventor. It may take you out of your comfort zone, but this stretch is needed in order to take you and the organization to the next level. Being uncomfortable necessary, without it, there may be larger consequences to both you and your organization.

3. Entrepreneurs position themselves as experts in their field. Research and keeping current is essential. They keep a constant pulse on the industry and their competitors and strategically make sure they stay ahead of the "game." Internally, to avoid being displaced, you must keep a pulse on what is happening in the company, who the "players are", what holes will be open and how they will be filled. If there is information you do not have but need, figure out a way to get it.

4. The sense of urgency of the entrepreneur is high. An entrepreneur cannot wait for decision makers -- they make the decisions. Nothing gets in their way for very long -- they experiment and try multiple approaches if they have to, in order to succeed. Too often in an organization, employees get stuck -- they want direction and wait to be managed. There are missed opportunities to showcase innovation and persistence. Create impact where you can and create a plan to present to your boss. It shows that you've discovered an "issue" and have possible solutions. Align with your boss and provide options that will make him or her part of the process. This increases the likelihood of implementation.

The entrepreneurial mindset is critically needed in most organizations right now. Seize the opportunity to create ownership of ideas and actions and influence your organization. Becoming the driver versus the passenger will have tremendous results for your career. The recession can be thought of as a curse or an opportunity. Our philosophy is the latter.

Stacey and Karen provide full and half-day programs for companies to develop practical approaches to employee innovation, cross divisional employee networks and high potential employee retention.

Karen Rosenthal, Founder and CEO of Retaining Human Capital, has been a career and leadership coach to executives for over 25 years. She has served in various capacities as a strategic business consultant, developing and implementing organizational development plans and conducting executive searches for Fortune 100 companies. Ms. Rosenthal has worked with hundreds of executives, building their unique brands over the years, enabling them to successfully differentiate themselves from their peers.