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

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.

21 Replies

David Antila
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David Antila Entrepreneur • Advisor
Managing Partner, Product Strategy Partners
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.
Naresh Batra
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Naresh Batra Entrepreneur
President SFiveI
Hello Vikram, It is important to first understand what Vision Statement means. It is he optimal desired state or mental picture an organization wants to achieve in the future; it could be 5 years, 10 years or may be more depending upon the industry and how fast it moves. Now let us discuss how the vision applies to products. You must develop products that solve Real Problems. Let me take you to Doug Leones, (a Managing Partner at Sequoia capital) recent talk at Stanford University. Consider that the founder of Zappos started his company because he couldnt find a pair of shoes, Leone says. Entrepreneurs who see a problem they have experienced and set out to make a product that solves it for millions of other people are those Leone is more likely to bet on. Jan [Koum] of WhatsApp understood privacy and low-cost messaging. He had that need. He started WhatsApp. Or the founders of Yahoo from Stanford couldn't find anything on the Internet, so they built a search engine they built a Yellow Pages. Now let us discuss how build the strategy to achieve the vision. Strategy consists of Mission, Behavior and alignment. According to Jack Welch, the greatest CEO of the last century, Alignment tends to happen when people are rewarded for embracing the mission, and furthering its success with their behaviors. Now comes the leadership, which is made up of 1, Truth and trust 2. Ceaselessly seeking the former, relentlessly building the latter Here are 3 very essential leadership activities: . 1.Getting in everyones skin- caring passionately for people and understanding what makes them tick 2. Serving as the Chief Meaning Officer- using words and deeds to give your teams work context and purpose 3. Removing blockages clearing bureaucracy and other nonsense out of the way of your teams path to results I hope these idea help. Would love to hear back from you. Regards, Naresh Batra CEO, SFiveI, Inc. Email: [removed to protect privacy] @NKBatra Skype: Nbatra7171 D: ([removed to protect privacy] M: ([removed to protect privacy] www.sfivei.com
Rand Strauss
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Rand Strauss Entrepreneur
Transforming politics and government, Visionary at PeopleCount.org
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"?
Karl Schulmeisters
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Karl Schulmeisters Entrepreneur
CTO ClearRoadmap

Ignore Jack Welch. His was a non-collaborative authoritarian management style that does not work well in the current non-industrial, ideas can walk world.

>>how we should try imparting our vision to star team player, so they work unconditionally and be more proactive in taking the organization forward.<<

From your post its not clear that

  • Its not clear what you mean by "Star Team Player"
  • Its not clear how you currently are rewarding your Star Team Player
  • Its not clear what youexpect of your Star Team Player

ItSOUNDS like you want them to workharder and more broadly than they currently are. This speaks tome that perhaps

  • YOU have not set the parameters of their role clearly to them
  • YOU have not rewarded them in a manner that aligns what you want them to do withwhat you reward them for
  • YOU have not expanded their skill set to meet the expanded definitions you want of them
  • YOU have not provided them with either the tools or the'safety' to take the sorts of risks you seem to want them to take

If what you really want is for them to work a 70hr work weekrather than just do the job you hired them for - then ignore the aboveand tell them thats' what youwant and see if they quit

Zvi Goldstein, CFA
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Senior Quantitative Analyst | Data Scientist
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
Stuart Long
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Stuart Long Entrepreneur
CEO - Progressive Leader & Growth Catalyst
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.
Vikram R Singh
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Vikram R Singh Entrepreneur
Experienced Entrepreneur / Information Architect & IT Consultant

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 R Singh
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Vikram R Singh Entrepreneur
Experienced Entrepreneur / Information Architect & IT Consultant

Hello David

Your idea of phone interview sounds great. Can you relate it in a more real scenario or kind of case study, If that does not violates any privacy? I do agree with you with respect to their pay. If they cannot foresee their future through your lenses, it's better to give those lenses to someone else. Thanks

Vikram R Singh
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Vikram R Singh Entrepreneur
Experienced Entrepreneur / Information Architect & IT Consultant

Naresh ji

Thanks for sharing your thoughts. So in nutshell your point is to care about them as much as we can, however in the past, I have seen that the only thing 'highly talented people' care about is what they get at the end of the day. Do you agree? May be it has to do something at what stage of their professional career they are in? Thanks

Glenn Donovan
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Glenn Donovan Advisor
Vice President of Sales (fractional)
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.
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