VisionLink Blog

By Ken Gibson

April 29, 2016

The CEO’s Role in Building a Pay Strategy


It is not unusual for a chief executive to rely on human resources to manage the compensation programs of the business. The CEO doesn’t want to get involved in the minutia of who is getting a wage increase this year or what salary band every group of employees falls in.  It’s not his role and a focus on such details would dilute his ability to lead the company effectively.  However, there are certain pay issues that only the company’s primary business leader can properly address. 

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By Ken Gibson

March 18, 2016

6 LTIP Alternatives to Sharing Stock


Many private business owners and CEOs live with regret. They bemoan sharing equity with one or more employees and feel like they opened a Pandora’s Box by doing so. “I didn’t want to lose this person and they wanted equity—so I gave them stock,” is the common rationale offered when explaining why they expanded the ownership pool.  In other words, there was urgency to retain or attract a key person—and an assumption was made that they would lose that talent if they didn’t grant him or her shares. Expediency ruled the day.

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By Ken Gibson

February 01, 2016

Performance: There's a Framework for That


Performance is an elusive commodity in business. Few think they have enough of it. Less can adequately quantify it.  All enter each New Year wanting to improve it.  Talent strategies are formed, pay programs are adjusted and the business model is tweaked, all in an attempt to solve this mystery. However, for too many organizations the secret formula for improvement is never uncovered. This occurs because they haven’t yet formed the right framework for engineering sustained success within their businesses.  So let’s fix that, shall we?

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By Ken Gibson

December 23, 2015

The 4 Top CEO Talent Concerns for 2016


VisionLink works with CEOs of private businesses all over the United States (and some outside those boundaries). Our work focuses on aligning pay with the organization's vision, business model and strategy. As a result, we develop a pretty good sense for what CEOs and other enterprise leaders are thinking about the future of their companies.  What we've heard,  observed and experienced is validated by recent empirical studies. For example, PwC’s 18th Annual Global CEO Survey revealed these chief executive talent, recruiting and retention concerns in its own research commentary:

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By Ken Gibson

December 16, 2015

4 Pay Strategy Commitments to Make for 2016


 New Year's Day has come and gone.  You've “closed the books” on 2015.  It’s time to turn the page, look forward and...(insert your favorite cliché here).  So…as you anticipate the coming year, what will be different in your business? What will improve? How will your growth goals be met?  Will you bring on new talent, increase results expectations for current producers or raise standards of performance in other ways?  If so, what role will your compensation strategy play in that effort? And how will you know whether your pay approach is having the impact you want? 

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By Ken Gibson

September 04, 2015

Are you Treating Compensation as an Investment or an Expense?


Recently, one of my VisionLink partners and I had a meeting with the managing director of a successful private equity firm. Part of our discussion was centered on the somewhat narrow view CEOs take of compensation; an issue that perplexed this business leader given the large deployment of capital payroll represents for most companies. "They seem to deal with pay issues in isolation, trying to determine--for example--how many options someone should have without considering the whole compensation picture," he mused. "They don't think about it strategically, which is a problem because businesses invest a lot of money in compensation."

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By Ken Gibson

August 25, 2015

So...What Does "Pay for Performance" Even Mean Anymore?


Words matter and sometimes their overuse dilutes their meaning and power. "Pay for performance" falls in this category. It has become a cliche, a catch phrase. Companies claim to believe in the concept but their pay practices don't evidence that conviction. Some assume that if they have a bonus plan, they are practicing "pay for performance."  Well, it's a start, but only that.

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By Ken Gibson

July 31, 2015

3 Ways to Improve Your ROI on Pay


Return on investment. How often is that term spoken of in business?

It's what shareholders expect. It's what CEOs are paid to achieve. Yet, when it comes to compensation, return on pay is seldom referenced--and as a result, rewards programs are not typically held to account for their contribution to share value and growth as other corporate investments are. Well, we live in a business age where that lack of accountability isn't acceptable anymore. So, let's talk about how to improve things.

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By Ken Gibson

July 28, 2015

Phantom Stock: The Business Owner's Ideal Growth Partner


If you own a business, you are likely focused on growth. For that to occur, you need great talent which both shares your vision and has the capacity to help you achieve it. You need business partners, but not in a legal, formal sense; just in terms of commitment and stewardship.  To gain that, you seek a means of codifying your financial relationship in way that properly incentivizes your key producers to help build the future company. If they can do that at a high enough level, you're willing to share the value they help create. You assume that means you should start sharing stock.  Not so fast. 

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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

December 22, 2014

Pay as a Growth Partner


If you run a business as a CEO or owner, there are presumably certain issues that you have identified as key to your company's future success. It's likely you see a future company that is bigger and better than the present company. Although the specific outcomes you seek to achieve might be unique to your organization, there are usually some common denominators in the "what's important?" category. For example:
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By Ken Gibson

December 17, 2014

Compensation and the Long-Term Growth "Tension"


In a recent 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

December 10, 2014

The Ultimate Pay Impact: Business Growth


You're the CEO of a successful private company. Your business has been growing at a modest rate but you feel it's capable of more--even much more. Breakthrough growth is in reach but not all of the pieces are coming together in quite the way you envisioned. You're willing to analyze everything to find the answer. You take a look at your P&L and notice the largest budget item there is compensation. "Hmmm, that's a big chunk of change," you muse. Yes, it is. As a result, let's think about the impact it should be having on the growth you're seeking.

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By Ken Gibson

November 25, 2014

Want Employees Who Think Like Owners?


In my conversations with CEOs, owners and other business leaders I hear a fairly consistent theme. They are frustrated and that discontent is usually articulated as something like the following: "I have good people, but they just don't understand the business the way I do. Therefore, they aren't consistently focused on the things I consider most vital."

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By Ken Gibson

October 22, 2014

Compensation as a Wealth Multiplier


There is something inherent in successful organizations that makes everyone associated with them want to "win." You can notice it the minute you walk into their building and it permeates every aspect of their operations--including compensation. At their core, they have an abundance mentality and believe that their approach to growth should financially benefit all key stakeholders. In fact, they believe such a philosophy means that shareholder wealth will accelerate at a faster rate if others participate in the value they help create rather than being mere bystanders as the company succeeds.

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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