VisionLink Blog

By Ken Gibson

July 07, 2017

Pay Strategy Fundamentals: 5 Critical Compensation Questions


Pay can either be an asset or a liability to a company.  Stated another way, it can either drive growth or hinder it-- fuel performance or diminish it.  Is that placing too big a burden on compensation to produce results?  I don't think so.  In fact, my experience and observation has been that most businesses don't set high enough strategic expectations for their rewards programs.  The evidence is they don't involve compensation in other strategy-related discussions.  The result is there is little to no link established between pay and the key success measures the company needs to reach.

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By Ken Gibson

April 03, 2017

VisionLink: What We Believe, Where We’re Headed & Why it Matters


It’s not typical that I use this space to talk about The VisionLink Advisory Group directly—except in reference to learnings we’ve gained in our work with client companies.  But I thought it both relevant and important that I shed some light on our firm’s core beliefs, purpose and vision for a couple of reasons.  First, I think doing so will give you some context for what I write about each week in this space.  Second, I happen to think the work we do is significant and has a real impact on the businesses we serve as well as those affected by their success.  So here it goes. 

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By Ken Gibson

October 26, 2016

The CEO Worry List


If you run a business, you worry.  And if you work closely with the CEO of a business, you will want to understand and respond to what that person worries about.  The issues that rise to the level of concern for most chief executives are things that are likely to impede their company’s ability to perform and grow at a rate commensurate with its potential.  While those specific factors differ from company to company, there are some universal concerns most in business leadership share.  And many of those issues have to do with talent and the most effective ways to drive higher performance from their people.  

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By Ken Gibson

July 27, 2016

CEO Memo: 3 Standards that Should Govern Employee Earnings Potential


You’re on the verge of hiring a group of highly talented people that you anticipate will take your business “to the next level.”   You are willing to pay a premium for these key employees because you’re confident they will help you achieve your most ambitious growth goals.  You’ve been tinkering with the value proposition you’ll offer these recruits, trying to come up with the right balance between guaranteed and variable pay and between short and long-term value sharing.  And then, in a brief moment of anxiety, you wonder:  “What if they don’t perform?  What if I pay them top dollar and the results don’t justify it?   What if there really is no such thing as paying people in a way that drives higher performance?  What if? (sigh).” 

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By Ken Gibson

July 12, 2016

5 Factors Successful CEOs Use to Create Growth-Oriented Pay Strategies


CEOs of successful companies view every business asset as an engine of growth, including compensation.  As a result, they are constantly examining the impact of rewards on key results and outcomes the business needs to achieve to fulfill the growth expectations its leaders have envisioned.  They recognize that pay can either be a drag on growth or a strategic tool that drives it.  So, let’s talk about how to get less drag and more drive.

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By Ken Gibson

June 03, 2016

How CEOs Should Pay “Strategic Leaders”


A recent Strategy+Business article, based on a 2015 PwC study, made the following observation:

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By Ken Gibson

May 27, 2016

The CEO Dilemma: Reward Short or Long-Term Performance?


In an article for Strategy+Business, Ken Favaro offered the following perspective about organizational growth:

"Peter Drucker once wrote that the manager’s job is to keep his nose to the grindstone while lifting his eyes to the hills. He meant that every business has to operate in two modes at the same time: producing results today and preparing for tomorrow.

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By Ken Gibson

May 20, 2016

The 5 Biggest Mistakes CEOs Make Regarding Pay


CEOs are (typically) smart people.  I mean, let's face it.  You aren’t hired to run a company if you don’t possess strategic, managerial and leadership skills that can positively impact business growth and improve shareholder value and return.   As a result, it is perplexing to see the simple yet highly consequential mistakes so many chief executives make when it comes to compensation.  Here are the five most common “unforced” errors I see committed.

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By Ken Gibson

May 10, 2016

Compensation and the Growth Mindset Organization


Carol Dweck’s work regarding growth versus fixed mindset individuals has been extended to the business world in recent years.  Among other things, the studies are showing that: “Supervisors in growth-mindset companies expressed significantly more positive views about their employees than supervisors in fixed-mindset companies, rating them as more innovative, collaborative, and committed to learning and growing.  They were more likely to say that their employees had management potential.”  (“How Companies Can Profit from a ‘Growth Mindset’,” Harvard Business Review, November 2014, HBR Staff)

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By Ken Gibson

June 17, 2015

"What is World-Class Compensation...and How Do I Achieve It?"


Most leaders of growth-oriented companies have large ambition. They are not looking for incremental change. They are seeking breakthrough results.  If you sit in meetings with these CEOs, you won’t hear things like: “Well, let’s look closely at our competition and see if we can mirror what they are doing, but maybe just a little better.” The idea is laughable. Instead they communicate and demonstrate an insatiable curiosity about what’s possible and where they want to take the company in the future.

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By Ken Gibson

June 09, 2015

How to Ensure Your Incentive Plans "Work"


Much has been written about incentive plans in business and whether they really make a difference.  Critics argue that money is not a motivator and that you can't pay people to perform. Fair enough. I don't argue with either of those assumptions.  However, people who are working hard to create value for the business instinctively know there should be some means of sharing in the growth they help fuel.  They seek a sense of partnership with company owners and won't become full stewards of the their vision unless their role is codified financially. Similarly, shareholders want business partners, not just employees. They expect performance and productivity and feel incentive pay can be used as a strategic tool towards that end...if applied properly.

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By Ken Gibson

May 04, 2015

Compensation and Income Inequality


Much has been said in recent years about the disparity of earnings between those who lead organizations and those employed by them.  The underlying theme is unfairness and the premise is that CEO compensation exceeds that of rank and file employees in a disproportionate way relative to the value each bring to their organizations.  Few meaningful remedies are ever offered. For the most part, the subject simply makes for entertaining political conversation. That discussion will surely rachet up a few notches during the upcoming election season, so fasten your seat belt. (Sigh!)

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By Ken Gibson

April 24, 2015

Increase Shareholder Value by Sharing Value


A common concern of business leaders about making increases in compensation is affordability. This is especially true of incentive plans. The assumption is that "costs" will go up if an annual bonus or some type of long-term program such as phantom stock or a profit pool is added--and there's no room in the budget for that kind of increase. It's not an unreasonable response. However, it's rooted in an incorrect premise. Let's look at it from a more enlightened perspective.

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By Ken Gibson

April 17, 2015

5 Pay Practices of Successful, Growth-Oriented, Private Companies


If you lead an ambitious private company, you likely struggle with some part of your pay strategy. Maybe you're comfortable with your salary structure, but your annual bonus is ineffective. Or perhaps you've delegated the formation of your compensation approach to human resources--and are not feeling like it's headed in the right direction. It could be you feel your overall pay structure is solid enough but it's not helping you attract the kind of talent you're trying bring in.

In short, you don't feel there's alignment between compensation and the business model and strategy of the company. As a result, you're feeling some pain.

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By Ken Gibson

April 09, 2015

Why Employees Don't Take Ownership of Results


A common lament of business leaders is that their people don't "get" what's most important. They want their people to think and perform like a business partner but they seldom find them engaged on that level. There seems to be a consistent disconnect and the constant preaching about priorities and targets falls on deaf ears. To make matters worse, many employees act entitled and seem frustrated they aren't earning more--or that this year's bonus is no bigger than last. It's enough to make an owner scream. (If it will make you feel better, go ahead and let one out right now!) 

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CLIENT SUCCESS STORIES

"VisionLink has helped us successfully navigate a number of complex issues regarding our rewards programs. It has dealt with all facets of these varied issues with a high degree of competence, integrity, and straight forward advice. VisionLink's experienced team has consistently delivered first class results in a timely, professional manner and has become a valued Storm partner."

Thomas K. Grzywacz
Storm Industries, Inc.

"VisionLink has helped us successfully engineer a long-term incentive plan that has empowered our company to reward and retain key talent while increasing shareholder value. The knowledge, patience and deep experience of its team members helped us navigate a road that was unfamiliar to us. Ultimately, VisionLink designed a plan that met the high standards of both stockholders and key management employees. We have further engaged VisionLink to address our business succession and transition planning needs."

Reggie Dupre'
Dupre Logistics

"Over the past several years, National Technical Systems has engaged VisionLink to provide insight and direction on a number of executive compensation issues, as well as a performance evaluation of our 401(k) plan. Under its direction, NTS completely revamped executive level rewards to align with our business growth objectives and the strategic plan of the company. VisionLink's insight and direction have been invaluable. NTS has achieved its growth objectives and our executives feel appropriately rewarded for their performance."

Bill McGinnis
National Technical Systems

"VisionLink arrived on the scene just in time for us. We needed a new framework for our short-term and long-term incentive plans. VisionLink's modeling and forecasting process broadened our horizons and expanded our view of how to use a good incentive system to build, retain and strengthen our senior management team. We remain impressed by their expertise, professionalism and great service."

James Keng
Jimway, Inc.

"Our firm has had a long-term incentive plan for over eight years but we never quite felt like it was firing on all cylinders. We hired VisionLink to re-energize our plan, and they did it! We now have a cohesive awards strategy that's fair to shareholders and valued by our employees. VisionLink's team is technically skilled and very creative. We're happy to recommend VisionLink to firms looking to upgrade their management incentive programs."

John M
FTO Inc.

"Our company was like VisionLink's typical clients. We were great at sales and haphazard at how we compensated our people. VisionLink's process brings great clarity and confidence to our growth planning - and makes compensation a great growth capability."

Dan Sullivan
Strategic Coach ©

"The team at VisionLink helped our company structure a long-term incentive plan that parallels the company's strategy for continued growth as a global market leader within our industry. Their approach resulted in a program that our corporate team and executives embraced on both a professional and personal basis. Through VisionLink's guidance and execution, we were able to create both a motivational tool for current team members and a recruiting device to attract future executive level associates. Well done!"

Mark Rhoades
Fluidmaster, Inc.

"As a leading direct seller of scrapbook photo albums and supplies, Creative Memories has independent consultants across the country. And for over six years now, VisionLink has helped us to stay connected and administer a voluntary 409A non-qualified plan for them. VisionLink has provided support for all aspects of our plan from notification of eligibility through registration and distribution. The VisionLink support team has offered suggestions for improving processes and provided us with outstanding service year after year."

Guy Walker
Creative Memories North America