Ilya Pozin is an entrepreneur, writer and investor. He is the founder of Open Me, a social greeting card company, and Ciplex, a digital marketing agency. He’s a columnist on entrepreneurship and marketing.


More often than not, a company’s big achievements are attributed to the work of an amazing CEO or a few all-star players. But let’s face it: Your company couldn’t succeed without its entire team. That’s right – even without your key players, your business should run flawlessly.

So, how would your company fare if the leader – be it you or someone else – temporarily stepped out of the picture? Hopefully you’d be able to “keep calm and carry on” as usual, but there’s a big chance your company may take an irreversible stumble. One thing’s for certain: A strong team will keep you afloat in both foreseen and unforeseen situations.

Whether you’re the manager, CEO, or other company superstar, the future of your company shouldn’t depend on you. It should all come back to a well-rounded, unwavering team.

But working for your team, rather than having it work for you, isn’t always easy in the traditionally structured, management-focused setting companies have come to thrive in today. Your company should be able to thrive in your absence, so it’s time to kick your bad habits and start putting your team first.

Here are seven ways to ensure every employee is able to go to bat for your company, without a second thought:

1. Establish a foundation

Ensure teamwork is a central part of your company from the start – this could mean adding a clause about collaboration and inclusion in your mission statement or having weekly team-building activities.

If you don’t set the bar high early on, there’s no way to ensure your company’s strengths will lie in its team dynamic. Make sure your employees know that you work for them – not the other way around.

2. Empower your team

Every one of your employees has something unique to offer. Because you work for your team, it’s your job to find out where your employees excel individually by monitoring and providing feedback and encouragement.

Challenge your employees to set an example for others. This will not only increase their interest in staying on top of their game, but also motivate them to live up to their reputation.

3. Set goals

If you don’t have a vision, you can’t have a team. Let go of the idea that your employees are simply taking care of menial tasks, and let them collectively achieve goals within teams, without hierarchy.

Give each team a goal to accomplish in a short timeframe, like challenging them to improve a project or introduce a new marketing campaign. This will allow your employees to focus on the big picture and how their collective efforts produce results, rather than accomplishing smaller tasks on their own. Knocking out team goals gives your employees a sense of ownership and responsibility — positively impacting your company from the inside out.

4. Learn to delegate

Place trust in your employees by delegating appropriately and having workers tackle goals together as often as possible. Micromanagement isn’t going to help you establish a team-focused workplace, and segmenting employees into cubicles leaves them disjointed and out of touch. Set your teams on the right path by delivering the big picture message and measurable outcomes – leave the rest up to them.

5. Leave them to solve problems

If you swoop in every time there’s a problem, how can your employees ever learn to solve problems on their own? Stop telling your employees what to do and start asking them how they would do it themselves. You will immediately increase team autonomy, responsibility, motivation, and create a powerful change in your team’s decision-making abilities.

6. Recognize them

Praise is the key ingredient for boosting motivation and engagement. Want a more inspired team of employees? Tell them what they’re doing right and encourage them to continue onward. Positivity is the key here.

Remove the stereotype of the manager always being the criticizer and be the person willing to give the necessary pat on the back. It doesn’t hurt to reward them either – be it through a company-wide acknowledgement or bonuses.

7. Throw out hierarchy

Your teams don’t need a manager, I promise. “All for one, one for all” should be your employees’ new motto.

Remove project managers and supervisors to allow your staff to feel empowered to work together as a team. Without fancy titles or rigid power dynamics, a solid and inclusive structure will form naturally. Your employees will want to go the extra mile for the good of the team and the accomplishment of a goal. Why? Because there’s nothing worse than letting down your entire team.

Don’t let your business lie in the hands of the top dogs. Build a team-focused business to keep you afloat under any circumstance.

Well, is your company team-focused?