How to fix a dysfunctional executive team

Editor’s Observe: Every week Maynard Webb, former CEO of LiveOps and the previous COO of eBay, will provide candid, sensible, and generally shocking recommendation to entrepreneurs and founders. To submit a query, write to Webb at [email protected].

Q. I’ve a extremely succesful executive team, however members are struggling to implement Patrick Lencioni’s “First Team” idea. Particularly, my executives’ first instincts are to be annoyed with different departments slightly than working along with their executive teammates to dig into issues, align on a plan, after which pull the levers  to execute on it. I feel it’s compounded by a COVID distant work tradition, however I’m at a lack of what to do.  

-Founder whose firm simply raised a Collection A

 Expensive Founder,

The issue you might be dealing with is a frequent one. As Patrick Lencioni would possibly put it, your execs are prioritizing the division that they lead over the group of which they’re a member. It’s commonplace for leaders to need to handle the individuals who work for them first—they really feel duty for his or her team members in addition to the success of their org. In some methods, this consideration and care demonstrates fantastic management.


Nonetheless, you and I each know that the route to true success rests with being extra targeted on the corporate’s mission than a person division’s—in different phrases, prioritizing the complete entity first.

It appears truthful to assume that not too way back, you had a small cohesive team that was aligned on every thing. Now, you’ve completely different departments with completely different agendas—and a lot extra battles.

Too typically we’re unprepared for this subsequent part of enterprise. However with a few shifts in habits, we are able to shift this state of affairs to one thing that evokes seamless integration that drives development.

Clearly, you’re doing one thing proper to be increasing—however now you want to discover a approach to make First Team a part of your technique. Listed below are some issues you are able to do:

  • Guarantee that you’ve a course of that identifies and specifies the corporate targets. This may very well be frequent working critiques. Or it may very well be a particular course of to guarantee alignment, reminiscent of Marc Benioff does along with his V2MOM methodology at Salesforce, which is completed by everybody each quarter to calibrate and elevate what issues most.
  • Demand peer alignment on targets.The corporate targets needs to be clearly articulated and agreed upon and possession needs to be outlined for every aim. Everybody on the executive stage ought to give enter on one another’s targets. This additionally contains realizing what trumps what and which targets matter most. Once I first joined eBay, I had the pinnacle of Growth targeted on transport quick and I had the pinnacle of Operations targeted on availability. There was a lot of head butting between the organizations. Resolving it required me intervening to resolve what aim was most necessary. Ultimately, I modified the targets of every team in order that Ops shared the supply targets and Product Growth shared the supply targets.  Once I added Buyer Help to the dialog, we realized that we wanted to add buyer satisfaction to all of the targets as properly. Every part works way more easily—and pleasantly—when everyone seems to be working in direction of the identical targets.
  • Discover methods to floor points. I ask everybody at my funding agency WIN to submit issues they need assistance on each week. In my 1:1s, I ask how issues are going and why. Is there a weekly workers assembly the place you establish issues are going properly and issues that aren’t? I like to recommend that each one CEOs interact in broader communication. It’s doubtless that no matter you’ve been doing concerning communication is probably not sufficient.
  • Give folks management. As soon as issues are recognized, ask the team to remedy them. Create a cross-functional group that can tackle and discover a approach to fix the problems. You’ll see elevated vitality and morale.
  • Construct belief. Belief is constructed from massive moments that take a look at you in addition to smaller on a regular basis moments. Turn out to be a tradition the place folks purpose to be an ally to others as a substitute of being demanding about others respecting their very own wants and desires. When there are points ensure folks really feel supported, not beat up or small. Promote the concept for those who see somebody struggling, provide to assist. That’s so uncommon—and turns into so appreciated. Encourage folks to see the entire firm as their tribe and see the competitors as what’s exterior the door.
  • Have fun the wins and provides validation throughout the entire firm. When habits is nice, name it out and rejoice it. My buyer help team at eBay gave out “silver star awards” to these individuals who went above and past to assist different departments out.

Firms that know the way to work as one entity find yourself way more profitable. And the individuals who work there are a lot happier.



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