How to fix a dysfunctional executive team

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

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 pissed off with different departments moderately 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 care for 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 effective 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 whole entity first.

It appears truthful to assume that not too way back, you had a small cohesive team that was aligned on all the pieces. Now, you will have totally different departments with totally different agendas—and a lot extra battles.

Too usually we’re unprepared for this subsequent part of enterprise. However with a few shifts in conduct, we are able to shift this situation to one thing that conjures up seamless integration that drives development.

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

  • Guarantee that you’ve got a course of that identifies and specifies the corporate objectives. This may very well be frequent working critiques. Or it may very well be a particular course of to guarantee alignment, similar to Marc Benioff does along with his V2MOM technique at Salesforce, which is completed by everybody each quarter to calibrate and elevate what issues most.
  • Demand peer alignment on objectives.The corporate objectives must be clearly articulated and agreed upon and possession must be outlined for every purpose. Everybody on the executive stage ought to give enter on one another’s objectives. This additionally contains realizing what trumps what and which objectives matter most. After I first joined eBay, I had the top of Growth targeted on transport quick and I had the top of Operations targeted on availability. There was a lot of head butting between the organizations. Resolving it required me intervening to resolve what purpose was most vital. Finally, I modified the objectives of every team in order that Ops shared the supply objectives and Product Growth shared the provision objectives.  After I added Buyer Assist to the dialog, we realized that we wanted to add buyer satisfaction to all of the objectives as nicely. All the things works far more easily—and pleasantly—when everyone seems to be working in the direction of the identical objectives.
  • 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 employees assembly the place you determine issues are going nicely and issues that aren’t? I like to recommend that each one CEOs have interaction in broader communication. It’s doubtless that no matter you’ve been doing relating to communication will not be sufficient.
  • Give folks management. As soon as issues are recognized, ask the team to resolve them. Create a cross-functional group that may handle and discover a manner to fix the problems. You’ll see elevated power and morale.
  • Construct belief. Belief is constructed from huge moments that check you in addition to smaller on a regular basis moments. Change into a tradition the place folks intention to be an ally to others as an alternative of being demanding about others respecting their very own wants and desires. When there are points be certain that folks really feel supported, not beat up or small. Promote the concept that 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 outdoors the door.
  • Have a good time the wins and provides validation throughout the entire firm. When conduct is nice, name it out and have a good time 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 far more profitable. And the individuals who work there are a lot happier.