Two essential steps to build high performance teams

As a founder, have you already:

✅ Hired a top notch product manager…

✅ Used time trackers to make sure your team works…

✅ Paid out higher salaries..

✅ Spent endless hours to make sure everyone has everything they needs to do the work…

But your team is NOT PERFORMING? It might be a good time to take a small step back and finally improve your team performance.

Here are two things you can start today to build a high performance team:

Improve motivation

Team members often are not motivated enough to make a difference to your company. They join to advance their engineering, design, product skills and are too focused on their role. They’re not pushing and inventing.

By working with their motivation you can greatly increase your changes of success. Most team members are not motivated by default, like Steve Wozniak, who build first computer to present to the Homebrew Computer Club.

It is your job, as a founder, to inspire the motivation of your team.

I’ve built and led over 20 A+ teams and here are four proven ways to boost motivation:

  • Convey your WHY? Telling only what to do is a huge mistake. You should spend at least some of your time to tell why you do what you do and why it is important. Most of the time your mission is to solve some hard problem and improve people lives. The way you express this to the team is very important, so take your time and prepare. If you do this right your team will support you in things you do.
  • How do people benefit from your product? It’s another important question you need to answer to engage your team members. You product is here to solve some problems and improve quality of life for others. Don’t be hesitant to tell your team why you do this and why your product is important to the world. You’ll be surprised how much happier and more productive your team will be.
  • Big events. Everyone wants to be part of something big. You should have something big on your list every 2-6 months. That could be release of new, long awaited functionality or a publication on Tech Crunch — does not matter. It’s important to have these big milestones, so you team feels part of something bigger than they are.
  • Latest tools & technologies. Everyone wants to grow, so you need to make sure there is something new in everything you do. Even if you use old technologies, you can use new approaches, so people have something they learn from all the time.

Your team motivation is not something you can improve in one conversation, but something you should constantly work on. They need to be excited to work together with you on the problem you chose to solve. Keep pitching, showing and telling why it is important.

Create a sense of urgency

A friend of mine, who worked at Amazon, told me the story about how Germans approach two-week tasks: they spend first week to build the task and the second week to clean up and find edge cases. But most people are not like that — they’re very lazy and will spend first week just walking around the task.

The trick is to do two-week tasks in one week — that creates sense of urgency.

Make sure your team has deadlines on everything they do. That will help your team be more organised and complete work on time. Deadlines create a sense of urgency.

The team focuses on the most important things and reduces time spent on non-essential activities. Without the deadline any task could become a one year project.

There are hundreds of ways to solve any given problem in product development and your team can go very deep while implementing certain feature. You, as a founder, need to clearly draw this line. When setting deadline it also good to align it with customer promises, sales or marketing events.

Now the team knows not only you, but also customers and other teams are waiting. That increases the importance of the work your team does — they know exactly why they and their work is very important.

Getting things done quickly especially important for the early stage startups, which don’t have big budget, but need to find their first 10 customers and push towards product market fit.


There are a lot of things you can improve, but motivation and a sense of urgency are key to building high performance teams. As a side effect it also creates more happy teams, because they simply complete more and enjoy their accomplishments.

Do you remember that feeling when you wanted to skip exercising or going to the gym, but decided not to at the last minute. Didn’t you feel happy after this?

Written by Andrew Orsich. Thanks to John McTavish for reading drafts of this.