Money vs People: When to Focus on What


When you only care about money, it can become obvious. Fast. And once you wear that designation, particularly if you earn it from your staff, it can be very difficult to pull back. Now, before we go any further, let’s put this on the table: It’s perfectly okay, at times, to focus on the end return. If you don’t have profit in mind, you are doing business wrong…and you will likely be doing that business in a very limited capacity. Meaning your people will be in a bad way no matter what you do. So, if you’re one of those who takes an idea and runs with it all the way, don’t. This article is NOT about deciding which is better, money or people. It’s about how to decide when it’s time to focus on which.

With that in mind, let me add yet another caveat for the Scrooge McDucks out there. You also cannot succeed when you only care about the bottom line. You need the people who help you succeed to WANT to help you succeed. Otherwise, you are just setting yourself up for mutiny and humiliation. Now, let’s looks at some times in which money is the right place to focus the lion’s share of your energies.

Are you looking for a short-term profit?

If you are working toward a short goal with a big win, then everyone involved in the process should be primarily focused on the gain involved. You should select people to help you that don’t need handholding or shoulder slapping. Skilled workers who want to get the job done and understand a results-driven focus.

If you hired a wolf pack…

This one is more of a “1-B” than an actual “2.” The point here is that, if your entire team is entirely focused on cashing in, then you can be comfortable focusing on the money. A profit-primary approach works great in high-pressure, high-performance situations. High stakes sales or similar business activities. If all that matters is closing the deal, then you need a team full of people focused on closing that deal. This works best when you have a customer service operation that is separate from your actual sales team. Taking this approach while attempting to combine sales and customer service is a recipe for disaster.

If you are insulated as the leader…

A profit-driven CEO in a system that needs more than that would be very wise to hire – and listen to – a solid team of more people-oriented professionals. I’m not talking about a bunch of useless pointy-haired middle managers. I’m talking about skilled leaders who can take the honest profit motive of the top person and translate that into an environment that meets those goals while also protecting the humanity and autonomy of the workers on the team. Remember, the key here is to get great leaders and listen to them. They will see things you cannot.

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