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What an Indispensable Employee Looks Like

Intrapreneurs, The Heroes of the Workforce

I spend a lot of time working with and teaching highly skilled and highly motivated people, young professionals and experienced professionals, entry-level workers and high-level executives, technical focused and people focused; a really wide range of people. Of all the different kinds of people I deal with on a regular basis, the most welcoming and exciting to work with have to be the Intrapreneur. For those of you who are not familiar with the Intrapreneur; they are people who exhibit the personal drive, dedication, professional pride, and intrinsic motivation and are the hallmarks of successful entrepreneurs, except they choose to work within an organization or business. These are the people who work in a company that makes other people wonder; “With their skill and drive, why they haven’t started their own business?”

Intrapreneurs are the heroes in their company who are not necessarily in it for the money or prestige, they are motivated by a need to seek innovation, solve problems, and, most often, they believe in what they do, and they look to do it better. Intrapreneurs are often the backbone of a successful company, if a company creates an environment where Intrapreneurs can thrive, be recognized and given more responsibility to create a larger impact then they will lift the company beyond anyone’s expectations.

 What makes Intrapreneurs?

Developing Intrapreneurship is really not that different from developing a garden. You need the right materials, the fertile soil to get started, and the right resources to be nourished.

In this sense, the right materials are likely within the personality qualities of the person.  As someone who researches and teaches topics around cognition and skill development, in my professional opinion, these qualities are best identified in the Big Five Factors personality traits. This is part of the foundation of Personality Psychology and an excellent inventory of the qualities that make us who we are. The main quality strengthens that are needed to create an Intrapreneur would be:


-Adventurousness (prefers variety and trying new and different ways to do things)

-Intellect (likes complex problems, enjoys going in depth with complicated ideas)

-Liberalism (avoids convention, tends to not be satisfied with the status quo)


-Self-efficacy (has the confidence to take on tasks and successfully complete them)

-Achievement-striving (self motivated to work hard)

-Self-discipline (will complete tasks, regardless of how distasteful)

If you would like to test yourself against the Big Five Factors and find your score on the above traits, among many others, you can take the actual IPIP-NEO assessment that is the representation of the scientific assessment used by Personality Psychologist. Find the test here.

What environment is needed to develop an Intrapreneur?

Going back to the garden analogy, what is the fertile soil to plant the budding Intrapreneur? Basically, flexibility is key. An environment where there is not just a linear process to accomplish outcomes, where there is a way to fine tune and improve processes or look at new ways to create efficiencies. The Intrapreneur is all about ideas, sees the angles, and wants the flexibility to pursue the best option.

Another essential piece is the resources to be nourished; the key to this is really access. The Intrapreneur needs to have access to information, equipment, and support to develop the idea or solve the problem. Access can be the greatest form of appreciation for the Intrapreneur, as it is not just lip service to their efforts and potential, but a tangible endorsement of their efforts, which will be key to keeping a successful Intrapreneur at your company.

The Takeaway

We have all seen Intrapreneurs in action; they are the indispensable co-workers who we know will go above and beyond and find better ways to do their job. It’s the person who works for a company we regularly deal with and enjoy interacting with because they take pride in what they do; they are self-motivated. If you have ever dealt with someone and have been impressed with their ingenuity, commitment, work quality and thought to yourself “this person is going places” then odds are you have been dealing with an Intrapreneur.

Intrapreneurship needs to be fostered, cultivated and appreciated. They are essential to the growth and sustainability of any organization or company. The reality is that human capital is the most important resource to any business and Intrapreneurs are the gold standard that gives any business its greatest value.


Roman 3 is an advising and solutions firm that specializes in inspiring progressive action, creating a culture of innovation, and assisting organizations in implementing transformative change. We help you build capacity, collaborate, be progressive, and grow to your full potential. For more information on our services and support check us out at 

Are Your Efforts Creating Empowerment or Dependence?

So you are looking to better a situation

There are many, many people out there who commit either their free time or career or both to helping others. These are the altruistic people who are determined to make whatever situation they are passionate about better for all involved. I have seen these people throughout my career, from my days working with children with disabilities, to my work in the non-profit sector, to my more recent role in economic development. In fact, I am someone who is passionate about helping others and improving the lives of everyone in the communities where I live and serve. Often one of the side effects of those who work in roles to make positive change and help others is professional burn out. People who are committed to improving the lives of others often do it at the expense of their own. It’s a kind of the double-edged sword of altruism. The sad reality is, there is always more need than time, resources, and people to provide it. This is often the case because we look to do things for people in the short term to support them, causing the habit of continuing to do things for them, creating a dependence from them, and a never ending need to help them. This is where dependence starts to stack up and become never ending. And thus professional burn out.

Teaching people to fish

It makes sense that when we want to help people, we do things for them. It is a direct line of cause and effect. Someone is in need of help, so we do something for him or her that will help, simple. The problem becomes when we are always doing things for people, and not with people. This takes me back to early in my career when I was working with children with disabilities. I worked with a lot of well meaning people who would do things like typing up notes for students with weak fine motor skills, which seems like the nice and helpful thing to do. The student has trouble typing, so you type for them…simple. The problem with helping them in this fashion is that you are creating dependence. The proper thing, though it appears less nice, is to give the students a portion that they are responsible to do, and you take a portion that you are responsible for. Then over time you adjust the potion to give them more and more, and hopefully one day all. This is about creating independence. In a similar path, in community and in economic development when there are people, businesses, and organizations that require support and assistance the nice and helpful thing to do to take their problems and do the work that they require to be successful. Although, the proper thing, though it appears less nice, is to build resources that will give those in need the tools and supplies needed to support themselves. All of this is really just the practical application of the old adage: Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, and you feed him for a lifetime.

If you take all of these words of wisdom, approaches, and advice and you boil everything down to its basic core, what you are talking about is empowerment. This is a term I use on a daily basis and have for many years. From education, to career and workforce development, to community and economic development, everything is about truly empowering others. If you create the interventions and resources that people need to lift them up in their time of need, give and teach them to use the tools and supports that will improve their situation, share the workload with them so they are gradually taking on more responsibility, then you will watch them be successful on their own. Its nothing fancy or complicated.

Empowerment is universal, but so is dependence

There are really very few situations where empowerment is not an ideal method to support others. It is the foundation of good education, human resources, community work, economic growth and healthcare, just to name a few. However, we sometimes get caught up in the short-term solution and look to create temporary solutions that end up creating dependence. We see this all of the time when we unintentionally sacrifice what is right for what is easy. This can look as simple and common as not properly training our pets to greet people at the door when they are young and then we need to isolate them or pick them up when we have company arrive. This can also be as large and complicated as when a community becomes dependent on a single industry or large business. If the majority of their employment opportunities are tied to a single employer, without diversifying, the community ends up in a critical situation if that employer were to shut its doors. Large or small, inconsequential or critical, it doesn’t matter, creating dependence is nothing short of setting yourself up to fail.

The Key to Empowerment: Sustainability

What you are doing when you look at empowering others is you are playing the long game to a sustainable solution. Your efforts are geared toward not only the short term need, but the long term benefit of your efforts being an intervention, not creating a permanent and ongoing job or role that will always need to be filled. This is why in my career I have always defaulted to the majority of my efforts being in resource development. Spend the time, effort, and money to create something that will be able to wean someone’s dependence off you, and that can be used over and over by others who require the same support. This is why in my student support role I would create guides and games to strengthen things like typing skills in my students. In career development, I would design progressive experiential learning processes to strengthen skill in communication and independent job search. In economic development, I would focus on processes and information that would support the independence of entrepreneurs. Creating sustainable interventions is critical to building up and empowering those you serve.

The Takeaway

One of the hardest things to do is to not come to someone’s aid when they need you. It appears cold and callous to then help them with a plan to limit your help over time and to give them tools that they need to do it for themselves. However, messaging and methods of delivery aside, it is critical to look at help and support from a long term, sustainable approach. Just like in parenting, we need to do what is right, not what is easy and be focused on what is the best thing for the future. Doing this will truly help by providing support and encouragement while they become empowered to do more and more things for themselves. Otherwise we will metaphorically and literally have them living in our basement until they are old and grey.


Roman 3 is an advising and solutions firm that specializes in inspiring progressive action, creating a culture of innovation, and assisting organizations in implementing transformative change. We help you build capacity, collaborate, be progressive, and grow to your full potential. For more information on our services and support check us out at 

Improve The STATUS Of Your Brand In The Labour Market

First off, what is branding….really?

There appears to be some confusion when it comes to clearly understanding branding. When discussing the subject, it is important to clarify what it isn’t. Branding is not the same as marketing, advertising, or public relations. Let’s quickly clarify the difference:

Me to you: “I’m a great Opera Singer!”

(That’s marketing)


(That’s advertising)

Someone who I pay to tell you: “Trust me—he’s a great Opera Singer!”

(That’s public relations)

You to me: “I hear you are a great Opera Singer.”

(THAT’s branding!)

Basically, a brand is the association that people make with a particular person or product. A brand is the consistent message that is the foundation for a person or product’s reputation.

Strong branding is both complex and essential

Career and business minded people are always looking to define what sets them apart, both in the consumer market and the labour market. Whether you are a business wanting to have the reputation that draws customers to your doors, or draws eager job applicants to your job postings, the reputation of your business is critical to your appeal. Basically, what everyone wants to be associated and known for the desirable qualities that will define their success.

Branding your business in the labour market is not that different than branding your business in the consumer market. Your reputation will largely impact how people choose to interact with you. If you treat people with respect, value their relationship and interactions with you, make it clear why you are the superior choice above others in your field, and consistently and thoughtfully uphold that standard over time; you will attract the interest you are seeking.

Knowing what you need to do, and knowing how you need to do it are not always the same thing. To help break down the elements of your brand, we have created a helpful tool to get you started. What is interesting is that these steps are the same if you are building a brand for your business in the labour market, a brand for a product in the consumer market, or a brand for yourself in the job market.  We call this the STATUS model. STATUS is an acronym for the core components of this approach. It stands for:

Spice – What is the unique essence that you have to make you stand out? What are your unique offerings? Your values? Your background? What is your competitive advantage?

Talk – What do you say you bring? (Not only now but to improve things in the long term?) What are the impactful skills and qualities you have? What is your value add?

Action – What are you doing to be successful now? What will make you the best choice from day one?

Target – Who and where are you trying to reach? What are they looking for? What are their needs? What purpose will you be able to fill?

Uniform –Are you presenting consistently? Are you a value fit with your target? Can you bring that fit consistently? How is this not just a hollow sales pitch?

Suitability – Does your brand fit with the target? Both in the long term and the short term?

STATUS is about helping people and businesses use self-awareness and critical reflection to make an intentional plan based on their experiences and values. STATUS provides a series of checkpoints to guide individuals and companies through the self-discovery process to find and convey a unique brand.

There are some great examples of companies who use their brand to stand out as the favorite in the labour market. We have all heard of great perks and experiences with companies like Google, or Virgin, they are well known. There are also great examples of companies who lean into their “Spice” and it guides how they do their business. Zappos, who proudly states A Little Weirdness” as a core principle is a great example of this.

The big examples are often inspiring but may be a little harder to relate to. Sometimes it is not about the big shift, as much as it is about focusing on retaining the success you are already having. Who are the people who will be sharing and spreading your reputation? In the labour market it is your current and past employees.

There isn’t anything you can do about your past employees, but you certainly can make a difference with your current ones. Maybe that is the target for your branding in the short term. Make your current employees feel respected, trusted, encouraged, and inspired. Increase employee motivation and productivity by being committed to employee engagement. They are likely already talking about your business to others, make sure the STATUS of that conversation is in your favour.

This can work for you too

The key to a unique and compelling brand is to be intentional, consistent, and focus on what is already working. Given enough time and commitment, you can build your brand and your reputation to the point that people may even stop you on the street to comment on what a great opera singer you are.


Roman 3 is an advising and solutions firm that specializes in inspiring progressive action, creating a culture of innovation, and assisting organizations in implementing transformative change. We help you build capacity, collaborate, be progressive, and grow to your full potential. For more information on our services and support check us out at 




Crucial Elements to Consider When Recruiting for High Talent Teams

Adding to the team

Recruiting is always challenging, the hiring process is always filled with so many unknowns and risks. The challenge is even greater when you’re looking to add to a team that’s already functioning well. The potential to throw off the existing team, ruin a good thing, and not successfully find the right fit really puts the pressure on when the time comes to expand your team. Another point to consider is the subtle differences between expanding a team, versus, replacing a member of a strong team. Expanding an already great team seems less risky because you are adding on to it, but you may run the risk of adding an unnecessary appendage to the team, a team appendix if you will. If the addition is not seen as a critical addition that is truly of value and strengthens the work of everyone else, then you run the risk of planting the seeds of resentment and can start to corrode the foundation of the team. In similar fashion, if you are replacing a member of a highly functioning team, then you need to be really careful in your approach. It is advised to not look for a clone to swap in with hopes of not missing a step, this just sets the stage for unfair comparisons and unrealistic expectations. A better approach might be to look at the exit of your team member as an opportunity to restructure the team’s tasks and move tasks around within the team that will create efficiency. This way you can find the fit for the new structure, and find someone who was hired to fit in, not just hired to be the same as the person who left.

But what elements are needed to find people who can fit into the existing team, and make the most of your recruiting efforts?

Here are some elements to consider:


Intrapreneurship is a relatively recent concept that focuses on employees of a company who have many of the attributes of entrepreneurs. They think and behave like owners; showing the long range vision of not just their personal career, but the organization as a whole. They are not “clock punchers” who only work within the time and duties of their employment contact. They take complete ownership of their role and are driven to make their position succeed with the same effort, determination, and ownership that an entrepreneur would with their own business. The qualities of an intrapreneur are exceptional work ethic and integrity, adaptability and willingness to change focus and direction to do what it takes to make their role successful, highly internally motivated, and solution focused with a commitment to find a way to make an innovative idea with potential work.

For more info on intrapreneurs check out these articles by Forbes and INC.


PSYCAP is a collection of core skills that create the foundation to strengthen employee success. Higher PSYCAP is associated with higher performance, lower stress levels and better well-being. The qualities of high PSYCAP increase the flexibility and level of demands that can be placed on an employee, it is a mark of a high capacity employee.

I wrote an article about building and developing Psychological Capital (PSYCAP), titled: Investing in Psychological Capital- Maximizing yourself and your talent pool, Check it out for a more detailed description of PSYCAP.

Strengths based vs All-Stars

This is a really important element to consider when hiring to a team. Are you looking to create a well rounded team or team of well rounded individuals? I can personally say that I have been on both and there is quite a different dynamic with each kind of team. The way I like to explain this concept is to compare this with the Brad Pitt movie Moneyball, where a baseball manager who couldn’t afford to hire a team of well rounded All-stars, so he hired a diverse team of players that were not well rounded but had strong skills for a single position and the passion, and personal grit needed to make the most of the opportunity. If you are interested, here is a good article on how to build a team “Moneyball style” in software development.

This may seem a little counter intuitive at first, to think of not necessarily looking for a team of well rounded all-stars, but to look for a team that collectively have high strengths is all areas, while as individuals have personal areas of weaknesses. However, if you hire the team to play to their strengthens, and strategically choose the people whose strengths compensate for the weaknesses of the others, then you create an environment where everyone is focused on doing what they are really good at and completely supporting each other to move the team forward in a unified direction. This fosters collaboration, pride in one’s work, and naturally boosts employee morale.

The risk of hiring that team of all-stars is that with many people who possess the same skills, all looking for the chance to show their talents off. You could accidentally create, at worst, highly competitive environment where people are more focused on their egos than the team, and at best, a team of individuals who feel they don’t need to work together and collaborate. Plus, like in sports, the All-stars tend to be the ones who are being headhunted and less likely to stay with the team for the long haul.

The Takeaway

If you see the value in these elements and are wondering how to recruit an intrapreneur, with high PSYCAP, to be part of your Strengths Based team, then the best advice I can give you is – give your team complete access to the recruitment process. Include them at every stage; the gap analysis of the team’s current strengths, the adjustment to everyone’s positions to fit the new person in as a critical member, the drafting of the job description and posting, short listing the resumes, and being part of the hiring panel. Give them the sense of ownership and lean on the professional judgement and intuition that they possess that made them a high talent team to begin with.


Roman 3 is an advising and solutions firm that specializes in inspiring progressive action, creating a culture of innovation, and assisting organizations in implementing transformative change. We help you build capacity, collaborate, be progressive, and grow to your full potential. For more information on our services and support check us out at 

Three Essential Elements for Effective Training

Have you thought lately about your teaching methods?

How many times have we sat in professional development workshops or post secondary lectures and thought to ourselves, “Well, this is a waste of my time!”? Likely more than you care to count. On the other hand, if you’re a trainer/instructor/educator, how many times have you wondered after a class or workshop, “Did any of that sink in?”

There are all kinds of factors that influence how meaningful and engaging training is for learners. These include the charisma of the instructor, content knowledge, motivation of the learner and method of curriculum delivery. For the purposes of this article, I’m going to focus on the latter. While I can’t influence your charisma (at least not in a single article), and it’s up to you to do your homework to increase your content knowledge, I can offer some insight into engaging learners through the right method of teaching.

A little about me

You might ask why I feel like I am the right person to talk about effective curriculum methods. It’s a fair question. I have spent years working with the most diverse populations imaginable: PhD’s to high school dropouts, people who’ve never left their community to recent immigrants, former high-level managers to recent graduates, and students facing significant barriers like mental illness, poverty and learning difficulties. All in the same classroom! (Welcome to the wonders of community education.) To prepare for this challenge, I completed a Master’s degree in Adult Education, focusing on teaching “unteachable topics to hard to teach populations”. Yeah, I love a challenge!

Understanding how learners learn

If you’re like most of the trainers I know, you go to class with a PowerPoint presentation, explain the information on the slides, occasionally get everyone to brainstorm in groups, then share the results of the group work. Does some or all of that sound about right? Well, depending on what you’re trying to achieve, this could be effective, but odds are it really isn’t. Let’s see if we can fix that.

The first thing you need to ask yourself is whether you really understand different kinds of learning. In training, there are three common approaches learners use in acquiring new information:

Rote or Informational Learning: Memorizing or creating an understanding of information.

Reflective Learning: Using critical reflection to challenge past thinking or behaviour

Experiential Learning: Experiencing the learning first hand.

Let’s look at these a little more closely.

Rote or Informational Learning: While not the most engaging method, rote or informational learning is the best choice for content-heavy material such as safety training, policies or procedures workshops, explaining results of studies, etc. The learner needs content of this type to be laid out logically and explained to them, in the hope of adding to their understanding of the topic being covered. If adding to understanding is the reason for the training, then this is a very practical method.

This is best done using examples to provide a context for adding new information, using metaphors or similes to give people something to link to in their current understanding to which they can add this new piece of knowledge. In the classroom, this often looks like PowerPoint lectures, reading from text or articles, and a training method using steps or procedures.

Reflective Learning: This is all about looking inward and challenging your thoughts, feeling, and biases: the point is to spark transformation. The learner is given the perspective needed to not only see that they can change, but that they want to change. The key is to tie the new perspective to the learner’s personal experience. The goal is not necessarily to add knowledge, but rather to change thinking.

This approach is appropriate for topics like harassment or sensitivity training, health and wellness, marketing approaches, reaching customers, etc. Reflective learning is best achieved by really pushing people to think objectively about topics. This can be done using examples and stories from life to give people the perspective of another person, or by using exaggerated descriptions of everyday norms to put them in a new light. You are trying to give the learner the gift of perspective. In the classroom, this might involve group discussions, instructors promoting an idea or perspective, analyzing material for deeper meaning or context, or collaborative development of ideas.

Experiential Learning: Experiential Learning is best used when you are trying to build competency, skill, or familiarity with a particular method or system. The focus here is to be hands deep in the learning while the skills are being developed in real time. Experiential learning is appropriate for task mastery, skill development, building familiarity with a new process, and problem solving scenarios.  This is best done in partnership with rote and reflective learning. This learning often starts with the delivery of information about a process or procedure, after which learners are given an increasingly difficult task or activity to incorporate or practice the information. This creates an experience where learners can integrate new learning into existing knowledge.  In the classroom, this may involve training scenarios for a new method or process, group problem solving activities that incorporate the actual tools or materials that the learner will be working with, and instructors pushing learners to try and make mistakes.

Think about what you want the learner to learn before choosing a method

Understanding these three methods can allow for far more engagement and meaningful training experiences. The trick is to ask yourself what you are trying to accomplish with this training. Are you looking to add knowledge, challenge past thinking, or develop skills? Once you’re clear on your teaching goals, you can decide on the best approach to take with your students. Teaching to your strengths is comfortable, and teaching for the needs of the learner is commendable. But without understanding the best approaches to use for the material you want to deliver, no one is likely to get the most from your training–especially you.


Roman 3 is an advising and solutions firm that specializes in inspiring progressive action, creating a culture of innovation, and assisting organizations in implementing transformative change. We help you build capacity, collaborate, be progressive, and grow to your full potential. For more information on our services and support check us out at