Business Management / Leadership

5 reasons to focus on your team (not goals) as a new business owner

Jessica Thiefels

Updated: Dec 02, 2019 · 4 min read

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focus on employees

Entrepreneurs thrive on setting new and greater goals - and achieving them successfully. As a leader, however, being solely focused on goals isn’t always a winning strategy. Robert Glazer, author of Performance Partners, explains:

“Too often, company leaders focus on what the company needs to do. They develop a vision and spend time on strategy before they give any thought to who is going to implement their grand plans. But the truth is the people who work for you are where the rubber meets the road.”

Before you chase after the long-term ambitions of profit and scale, the focus should be on employees - supporting them and investing in their growth. Ultimately, a strong team dynamic is what will take you far. Kevin Sealey, vice president of operations at EPOCH Student Living echoes Glazer’s sentiment, saying:

“It will prove difficult to focus on the granular parts of the business when your team is not functioning at their highest level. There could be some companies that skip this and jump right into working, but it’s not sustainable to get all the way through the year and accomplish objectives without your team.”

With all that said, if you’re still hesitant to shy away from goal-setting and profit margins in favor of a greater focus on employees, here are a few more reasons to consider.

You can tap into many diverse skill sets

There are many areas of knowledge and expertise required to make a business thrive. As a leader, it’s your job to empower all of your team members to leverage their unique and specialized talents in order to ensure you can eventually meet those goals and hit your sales targets.

What’s more, a diverse group with different skills, identities, perspectives and backgrounds can find solutions more effectively than a homogenous team of high performers, according to research from the University of Michigan. When you focus on what capabilities each individual can offer the organization as a whole, you create opportunity for innovation and creativity.

You can elevate camaraderie and morale

Once a diverse team has been established, it’s important to create a collaborative work environment. This occurs when relationships are formed, values are shared, and respect for one another’s contributions is encouraged.

The “chemistry of teamwork” is built on a unified commitment to practice “humility, trust, discipline and honesty,” explains Luis Romero, founder of the inspirational fashion brand Voxpell. When you uphold these core values, the outcome is a joint purpose, camaraderie, morale and engagement which can lead to a 26 percent increase in annual revenue, reports Bizfluent.

You can identify learning opportunities

When you’re surrounded by people of different abilities or experiences, all team members have a chance to teach and learn from one another, serving as a tool to upskill your employees on a daily basis.

It’s your job to create a space where the team can take advantage of these opportunities. Alison Robins and Nora St-Aubin of officevibe explain:

“You want to create a space in which people feel safe to think outside the box, test new approaches and even fail [...] As a leader, create a learning friendly environment by speaking in terms of hypotheses, tests and iterations rather than certainties, outcomes and final products.”

You can build a productivity-focused culture

A workplace that’s driven by personal goals often leads to employees working in silos instead of as a collaborative unit, reducing efficiency and innovation. But the completion of a project in a social context generates what researchers at Stanford University call “intrinsic motivation,” which can result in a 48% to 64% higher inclination to persist with tasks they would otherwise lose interest in. When you focus on building a culture of team cohesion, the outcome is productivity.

You reinforce systems for accountability

Nearly 85% of employees are unsure of what their organization wants to achieve, suggests Partners in Leadership. Without this clarity, it’s hard to secure employee buy-in. But the more inclusive and connected your team dynamic is, the more ownership and accountability each person will take for their contributions.

When you focus on the team, reinforcing the company’s mission and everyone’s role in making it a reality, you empower employees. Empowered employees are often more accountable for their work because they’re connected to it outside of simply earning a paycheck.

Focus on employees first, then goals

Long-term objectives do matter in a business, but as you build the groundwork in this early start-up phase, your greatest ROI will come from investing in your team. Without a committed group of people to execute your vision, it will remain just that - an ingenious concept which had potential but lacked the team strength needed to succeed.

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