Team Building · Strategy

How to show your vision to your key team members so they think beyond their monthly salary targets?

Vikram Singh Experienced Entrepreneur / Information Architect & IT Consultant

August 8th, 2015

I would like to seek valuable advise from fellow cofounders, as how we should try imparting our vision to star team player, so they work unconditionally and be more proactive in taking the organization forward. Thanks in advance.
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Anonymous

August 8th, 2015

You need to talk with them about the vision, often. Shipping software is not the vision. Marketing materials are not the vision. Getting paying customers is not the vision.

And not just talk TO them, like happens in quarterly meetings. Ask them what's missing from the plan. Do they think it's going to work? Do they think it's important? Their ideas are effecting their work. More than yours.

And don't give them bonuses for doing their jobs. That's what salary's for. And don't give them bonuses for exceeding quota. Tie everything into the mission. Yes, bonuses might be tied to performance. It's your job to tie performance into the mission.

I've worked for some companies where I didn't really care about the mission except what it would mean for my stock options. I tried to care, but the reality of the day-to-day work just didn't jibe with the mission. We let certain things slide. And we didn't even talk about it. All we talked about were the directions that came down from the execs. The execs thought all they had to do was talk and be enthusiastic. Big companies can ill afford this. It can easily kill small companies.

If your mission is small, it won't call forth deep commitment. If your presentation is weak, or seldom, people will lose sight of the mission. If you're not listening to your people and dealing with their doubts, their doubts will distract them. If the company's actions seem inconsistent with the mission, that'll cause problems, too.

And don't fire them for not being on board. Take responsibility for weaknesses in the mission and its presentation. 

What if they also want the mission to include, "It's a great place to work." or "We honor our customers" or "we contribute to the community"?

David Antila Managing Partner, Product Strategy Partners

August 8th, 2015

If you can't directly raise the issue with them, one way we've found to be effective is to arrange phone interviews with key team members, including them, with an outsider posing as a prospective employee. This enables you to ask questions that might be uncomfortable in a employer/employee context, e.g. pay vs equity, working conditions, team dynamics, etc.

That said, any time we notice that any of the key players are out of sync we take a mental health day and get far away from the office to talk privately - and generally best if done one-to-one. Give them plenty of time to ask whatever questions they have about your vision, as well as what might be holding back their full commitment. As we both know, family and financial circumstances sometimes make it difficult or impossible to work for little or no salary. In the end, regardless of their star status, if it is not a fit financially for either of you, the sooner you part ways the better - it allows you to move on and recruit the next superstar.

Pankaj PCC Helping leaders to be happier

August 14th, 2015

Your core team will have to share your vision as their own. For this they need to understand how it relates to their own values and goals. And you will have to understand their values and motivations. You will need compassion to understand them and patience to give them time to internalise your vision. 
You might like to start with an off-site workshop but it will need continuos reinforcement and relating it to their day to day work.

Zvi CFA Senior Quantitative Analyst | Data Scientist

August 9th, 2015

There are two key steps here. Fist, you have to vividly describe the vision. You need to repeat it often. And, by vision, what I mean is a description of what the world will look like with your product in it. Second, you need to talk about why this vision is meaningful to your team. This is where you talk about making the world a better place, helping them have better lives and that sort of stuff. z

Vikram Singh Experienced Entrepreneur / Information Architect & IT Consultant

August 13th, 2015

Dear Friends,

Thanks a lot for sharing your views. Please accept my apology for a delayed reply as I am new to the system and didn’t noticed email notification that my thread got replies. I will now reply separately to all of you in my subsequent messages. Thanks again. Vikram

Vikram Singh Experienced Entrepreneur / Information Architect & IT Consultant

August 13th, 2015

@Rand, 

Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I completely agree with you. It's always inside out approach. If something does not work, we first need to look inside as what is wrong with us. That was the reason I opened this topic for discussion as what as an entrepreneurs we can do or learn from? Any good read in that direction you would recommend? Thanks in advance. 

Stuart Long CEO - Progressive Leader & Growth Catalyst

August 9th, 2015

I'm in this very process now. Vision and strategy doesn't exist without daily tactical execution. They must know you rely on them to achieve this and you must know they rely on you to impart the future plans of the company to them. Vision is so much more than a statement and in my view its directly related to specific goals of where you want to be and arrive over time relative to your vision. What you want over 3-5 years is key. Valuation, growth, culture...etc or a mix of any of these. For me personally, I'm putting in the building blocks to drive monetary value of the company over the course of the next 3-5 years while still building a great company with key values and a great culture all with an exit in mind. What I need from my key team members (or in my case my management team) is the understanding and unending commitment to achieving this/these outcome(s). First off, I agree they need skin in the game, and as such each will have an equitable share of the company so when the defining moment arrives, its life changing for all of them. Next I speak with the financial industry to determine the levers to build the greatest value. (e.g. what are the factors, growth, market share, product suite, road map, financial model, profitability, etc. that contribute to the highest value (multiples of revenue or EBIDTA). Then I model the business in flat, moderate and 'what it could be' what if scenarios. Next I sit them down as a group and explain what the company's objectives are for the next 3 years. Walk through the levers that contribute greatest to building value and then walk through the models to show them all the if/then what if scenarios. After this everyone tends to align to the 'what it could be' (usually with the exception of head of sales, who generally see the world from the bottoms up). From here its another exercise (before year end) for the next FY to figure out the slam dunk numbers and then the best version of what gets us towards 'what it could be' and then lock that in as the sales plan, knowing you're slam dunk is safely (or as safe as it can be) in the bank. After this, I lay out the company's objectives for the next FY. Usually in 3 categories, 1) Finances (Bookings, Revenue and EBIDTA), 2) Products and 3) Organization(Culture). Then each key member builds a 'plan on a page' that is specific to their function. Each Dept's objectives, actions, budgets, risks/mitigation's and KPI's must align specifically to the company's objectives... all in a single page. Once this is complete, I personally roll them up to a single plan on a page for the organization. Additionally, each department head has each of their employees (if they have direct reports) create their own specific plan. Then just before the start of the new FY, I have a company wide meeting to roll out the next years plans. Everyone know exactly what they are to do as well as the rest of the company. Further everyone's bonus is tied to achieving the company's objectives. It forces everyone to row in the same direction. This is reviewed week & monthly with the management to team to determine whats working and what's not and pivoting or persevering as required... and the management team truly understands down to the day what must be done every day to commit to the weekly goals, the monthly goals, the quarterly goals and the annual goals and MOST important is they understand 'why' each of these milestones is contributing to the bigger 3-5 year plan.

Glenn Donovan Vice President of Sales (fractional)

August 13th, 2015

Leadership is about understanding their vision and helping them align it with your's, not shoving your vision down other peoples throats. You can inspire them with your ideas but they have to see how it helps them get to their goals.

I also don't know what you mean by "unconditional work" and "monthly salary targets". All work relationships are conditional and salaries aren't targets. 

Vikram Singh Experienced Entrepreneur / Information Architect & IT Consultant

August 13th, 2015

Naresh ji

Thanks for the subsequent qualities. I believe all of them stem from "Truth and Trust". Following these two will cultivate the rest?

Thanks 

Glenn Donovan Vice President of Sales (fractional)

August 14th, 2015

@Vikram - Thanks for your response. Let me put it more pointedly - the issue is likely your leadership. Consider that the way to get teams to be self-motivated and directed is to inspire each team member individually. What you are describing is someone who is not highly motivated by your leadership, IMHO.

What to do? If he's worth saving (some people aren't, I'm a big believer in firing those who are bad apples, they corrupt entire companies), then take a real interest in him. I'd get him out of the office, to a lunch or something. Get to know him and what his goals and aspirations are and find out how this job and your company fits into that. The leadership training I do focuses on this and calls them "Enrollment Conversations" - which occur inside the other person's own personal narrative, not your's.

I also think people like this often need bigger challenges and may be good candidates for leadership positions (again, if you think the only problem is motivation, not if he is problematic personality or dysfunctional team member). You might want to give him a chance to fail at a leadership position and see if he steps up.

I hope this is helpful. I love that you are so open and engaged, it says something great about you as a leader that you are willing to set aside your ego and focus on solving the problem. Good luck!