VisionLink Blog

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 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 04, 2014

Holding Pay "Accountable"


It's that time of year when enterprise leaders look carefully at their businesses and ask: "What needs to change? How can we improve?" CEOs are looking at ROI and ROA (among other things)--and trying to determine how to squeeze more out of both. Everything is scrutinized. Somewhere in all of this compensation comes up. When it does, everyone sighs. The same questions are asked: "What needs to change? How can we improve?" But why the sigh?

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By Ken Gibson

October 28, 2014

Thinking of Making Pay Changes Next Year? Well, first...


"Next year."

Those are perhaps the two most common words CEOs and other business leaders will use between now and December 31. "Next year we plan to increase revenue by 20%." "Next year's budget is due in two weeks." "Next year we need to reign in costs." "Next year we'll recruit to five key positions." "Next year we'll be making our next acquisition."

In that mix there will likely also be certain "next year"

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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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By Ken Gibson

September 05, 2014

Unleashing Employee Passion: Obstacles & Answers


A performance culture is essential to achieving sustained success within an organization. It breeds an environment that is passionate at its core. Passion is unleashed when a company has achieved sufficient line of sight in the minds of its employees between the following related elements:

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By Ken Gibson

August 27, 2014

Compensation and a Competitive Advantage


Everything related to a competitive advantage begins with hiring and keeping the right people—then making sure they are focused on the right performance factors. If you think otherwise, then perhaps you can identify a company that has the wrong people focused on the wrong issues and is somehow sustaining a competitive advantage. It just doesn’t happen.

Your people and their distinctive abilities are the soil that must be prepared and cultivated before a competitive advantage harvest can be reaped. This conclusion is born out in real (business) life over and over again.

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By Ken Gibson

August 15, 2014

Establish a Performance Framework, Not Just a Pay Plan


Before an organization can effectively determine the kind of approach to pay it wishes to adopt, it must first think through and articulate the performance framework that will inform its compensation philosophy and strategy. This business architecture is made up of three separate but interdependent parts—a business framework, a compensation framework and a talent framework. For any pay plan to make sense, or have the prospect of success, it must be considered within this context.

Business Framework

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By Ken Gibson

August 05, 2014

What Does it Mean to Have an Effective Rewards Strategy?


Stephen Covey taught that effectiveness means achieving desired results in a way that preserves and enhances the assets that produce those results. It's a true principle that has infinite application.

In a rewards context, for a strategy to be effective and produce the growth results the company has targeted, it must do the following:

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By Ken Gibson

July 28, 2014

What Results are You Paying For?


"I'm paying my top four people $1 million. What am I getting for it?"

That question, or one similar to it, crosses the mind of every CEO that examines what he or she is paying key producers in the organization. It's an important question for a company to answer since compensation represents such a large allocation of the company's profits. And as economic challenges arise, the question carries an even greater urgency.

What are you getting right now for what you are paying in compensation? Well, you are getting the current result, whatever that might be - right? If the results you achieve this year are not measurably different than you got last year, what will you do next year to drive a different performance level? And how will pay differ as a result of those changes?

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By Ken Gibson

July 22, 2014

Aligning Incentives with Business Objectives


All compensation, and especially incentive plans, should help focus employees on the company’s priorities and strategies. In other words, the company’s growth objectives--and individual roles in the same--should become clearer as a result of how employees are paid. Of course, these issues are different for every business. However, they typically include priorities and objectives such as the following:

  • Define and remove barriers to the company’s growth goals.
  • Expand the business’s core value proposition.
  • Accelerate the execution of the organization’s business model, processes and strategies.
  • Identify and execute new growth drivers.Maintain the company’s revenue engine.
  • Expand the company’s market reach and audience.
  • Stay ahead of market trends.
  • Be responsive to customers.
  • Codify expectations and accountability and build a sense of partnership with key employees.
  • Manage change effectively and encourage innovation.
  • Become a magnet for the best talent.
  • Be a great company.

Business leaders need a workforce that understands these priorities and will assume an appropriate level of stewardship for their fulfillment. How incentives are constructed can tie priorities to pay and thereby reinforce in the minds of employees “what’s important.” They help clarify priorities.

The CEO Worry List

Chief executives of businesses translate “what’s important” into a kind of worry list they carry around with them all the time. They all have one. It’s what keeps them from going to sleep at night or awakens them at three in the morning. Pretty much every business issue can be placed in a group on that list. Those categories represent the five lenses through which the CEO sees the organization. From this perspective, the company leader makes decisions based on the current state of the business and where he or she wants it to be in the future.

Generally, these categories are as follows:

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By Ken Gibson

July 15, 2014

The Short vs. Long-Term Pay Dilemma


In his recent Strategy+Business online column, Ken Favaro said this:

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By Ken Gibson

June 13, 2014

Linking Compensation to Results


The leaders of most growth-oriented companies are always in search of better ways to tie compensation to performance standards. As a result, they experiment with various metrics and measures associated with incentive plans they have in place--trying to find the formula for success. A few eventually land on something that works well enough. Most end up frustrated.

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By Ken Gibson

December 05, 2013

A Total Compensation Approach


Expediency often guides compensation decisions. Too often. A company feels like its bonus plan is viewed as an entitlement so it wants to engineer a new design that has more clear metrics and performance standards. It's coming to light because it's November 30 and what has come to be known as the "Christmas bonus" is about to be paid. So...frustrated business leaders vow to have a new plan in place by January 1 that will "fix" this problem.

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By Ken Gibson

May 30, 2013

Can a Company Buy Performance?


No, it can't. But many organizations try nonetheless.

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"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