The CEOs Challenge: High-Performance Teams: Part 1

    4 min read time

    We all know that it's the CEO’s responsibility to build a framework that enables high performance in an organization—a difficult and quite time-consuming process!

    In companies that have strong growth, their teams' productivity and engagement levels are high. Cross-functional collaboration is the norm, rather than the exception. People trust one another and share their time and valuable expertise with all because there is a common goal and mission with role clarity. 

    With high-performance teams, there is also significant and measurable difference in financial results. Research shows that companies with these high-performance teams realize revenue growth that is four times greater than those without!

    So how can you, as a senior leader in your organization create and sustain a high performance work environment that enables you to grow your company—significantly faster than your industry average by unifying your entire company in support of a single purpose and ensuring that everyone is working on what matters?

    FACT: Only 1% of US businesses make it past $10M per year in sales. Creating companies that grow rapidly to $100M+ in annual sales is incredibly difficult. Those who do it are in an elite group of senior level leaders and CEOs.

    How do you continue to perform at a high level as your company grows? How do you keep your diverse employees together as one unit, focused on putting the company first, trusting one another, and collaborating across departments?

    Sustaining a high-performing team a company grows is perhaps the most
    significant challenge a CEO faces. 

    Here in part one, we will talk about silos and why they form in organizations and how CEOs can prevent them from taking root and creating dysfunction. silos in workplace


    As companies grow rapidly and get to approximately 150 peopl, it becomes clear that the management “styles” in place no longer seems to work, and something more is needed. The typical response to this is to break everyone into teams. Each person belongs to a department and reports to a manager who reports to a VP who reports to the CEO (following me? Sound familiar?).

    However, this tends to create silos and although these silos of marketing, sales, engineering, etc., cannot really exist without each other, they seem to act as if they do. It’s not unusual for them to belittle each other’s work and even
    behave with hostility toward each other, leading to dysfunctional teams.

    How do CEOs refocus the conversation to be on what’s best for the company, its customers, and each other?

    How do they unify their entire company around a common purpose and build a high-performance organization that is always aligned?

    Let's define a high-performance organization: "an organization that achieves financial and non-financial results that are exceedingly better than those of its peer group over a period of five years or more, by focusing in a disciplined way on what matters to the organization" (per Maastricht School of Management). They are:

    • Aligned with the company’s strategy.
    • Capable of executing strategy with the right talent, processes, and tools.
    • Effective at making and executing critical decisions.
    • Adaptable in the face of rapid change.
    • Efficient in realizing the benefits of scale and scope.
    • Engaged to go the extra mile.

    Does that define your organization? If not, read on.

    Top-performing organizations with top-performing teams have performance-enhancing cultures that outperform those organizations without.

    Think about this recent study done by Gallup on performance-destroying teams: Their study showed that only 33% of employees were engaged in their work. On the flip side, 51% were not engaged, and 16% were actively not engaged.


    In other words, more than half of employees were not engaged. This lack
    of engagement comes at quite a price for organizations - approximately $3400 per $10K of payroll. Look at your own company - do the math. Potentially, lack of employee engagement could be costing you thousands of dollars. 

    So you have silos created and lack of engagement which now equals misalignment of your company goals. Hmmm.....


    Many CEOs look at their organization and dismiss department inefficiencies and lack of cross-functional solutions due to immature employees, lack of basic training, or simply the inability for some employees to play nicely with one another. Well, while these behaviors may be a result of the silo mentality; it is not usually the root cause. It is the responsibility of the leadership team to recognize this and rise above to create effective, long-term solutions that are scalable, executable, and realistic.

    1. Common Goal

    Have a clearly defined common goal and each person (not department) is responsible for achieving that goal / unified vision. Everyone needs to feel as though they have a hand in the company. We have have gifts, talents and expertise that can add value. 

    2. Motivate

    Motivation can be different across teams and individuals. What really defines a successful leader is one who is able to identify what key components motivate each of their employees and how to communicate this effectively to the company. Once the common goal has been identified, each manager must determine how to incentivize their employees. Not everyone wants money - some want more challenges, while others want half a day off away from the office. 

    3. Measure

    You can't just set a common goal and have no way to measure it, right? The leaders
    must set a time frame to complete the common goal, benchmarks for success and delegate specific tasks. Empowerment and accountability are key.

    Just remember, there's typically a large amount of inertia that is needed to keep the momentum going - teams thrive off routine and constant reinforcement.

    These visions don't have to be overly complex or media-worthy. A clearly communicated vision, a little restructuring and shift in mindsets coupled with consistency and discipline is how the best organizations are going to break down the silos and thrive these days. It's not an easy task, but avoiding these issues will be more detrimental to the employees and ultimately the ability to ever unite.