The Entrepreneur Forum | Financial Freedom | Starting a Business | Motivation | Money | Success

Getting employees to follow my vision

Learn how to build wealth and win financial freedom the Fastlane way!

Say "NO" to mediocre living rife with jobs, ascetic frugality, and suffocating savings rituals— learn how to build a Fastlane business that pays both freedom and lifestyle affluence. Join more than 70,000 entrepreneurs who are making it happen.
Join for FREE Today
Get the books
Remove ads? Join Fastlane INSIDERS
(Registration removes this block)

YelmisPravida

New Contributor
Read Fastlane!
Jan 23, 2012
51
15
I run a company with 12 employees. So far, I've been the type of leader who gets everybody's input, to get them onboard on the vision. But that's becoming more and more impossible.

Recently, I've launched a vision and shifted my style to the more "here's what we are going to do, and here's what I want everybody to do from now on".

We are a software reseller who helps our clients implement and use the software. Most employees and the vision relates to how we deliver our solutions. Our new vision is to "create packages" of every type of implementation and define those packages so they can be reused, marketed, etc. before delivering anything to a client.

It's been very difficult to get employees to do what I say.

I can't just get rid of them - we are a tight knit team and everybody is tightly integrated into everything we do.

Now that I've used the "do what I say" approach for a while, I'm realizing that it's not enough. I need to get people onboard. I noticed during a discussion with one person in the team 2 days ago that he had a lot of un-vented questions and objections, and now that we discussed those, he's suddenly fully onboard.

Conclusion: It's not fast enough to "create a vision jointly" like I used to do. It's my role as the CEO to come up with the general direction and big vision. (Even though I do all the time encourage people to come to me with their ideas and to own their stuff - though I'm perpetually disappointed that people don't - I remember when I was an employee, I wasn't like my current employees are, I was constantly thinking about things to change and improve and frustrated the heck out of the CEO with my push for new things we should do - in the end he was greatful because it led to some fantastic results).

However, it's also not enough to just say what people should do and expect them to do it.

What I need to incorporate next is the best of 2 worlds:
1. Be the visionary, own the vision, come up with the vision and where we should head.
2. But then, also convince people in addition to pushing the vision. Meaning, talk to people, get their objections, make sure they clearly understand everything, answer all their questions, take their input.

So it's neither the "pure team player" who always gets everybody's input, nor the "dictator" who just dictates what to do. It's rather the owner and driver of the ultimate vision, but then getting everybody onboard in a collaborative way.

Anybody else had similar experiences and what's your thoughts on all this? How did you get your organization to:
1. Take ownership and drive change?
2. Change their behavior in accordance with the vision and guidelines you outline?
 
Don't like ads? Remove them while supporting the forum: Subscribe to Fastlane Insiders.

Eudaimonium

Bronze Contributor
Speedway Pass
Jun 8, 2017
210
236
Germany
Is the 'vision' short and practical, yet still all-encompassing? How does 'creating packages' help or inspire anyone?
Is the 'vision' communicated and developed verbally, or in writing, like an employment contract?
What positions do your 12 employees occupy?
What incentives / consequences do they have?
Is the framework within which they each operate unclear?
Even if they ignore the overall vision, how can they take ownership for the responsibilities within their role?
Have you researched methodologies such as LEAN manufacturing?
 

WestCoast

Gold Contributor
FASTLANE INSIDER
Read Fastlane!
Read Unscripted!
Speedway Pass
Jan 20, 2008
473
1,319
Currently Traveling
Hi @YelmisPravida, a very interesting topic. Also a very complex one.
I find myself in similar situations sometimes - and I realize I'm not doing a great job with it to my teams.

Have you read any of Jocko Willink's books on this?
He talks a lot about explaining the WHY of things to troops.


That said, my comment is:
The vision is compelling for you - is it compelling for your team?

Have you connected the vision, with the benefits to each of them as well?
Do they benefit at all when the vision is achieved?

Also, do they have the authority to take action to help the vision?
Or, do you just tell them what to do?


I've found - people need to know the WHY. Yes.
They need to know where the company is going. Yes.

But, they also need to have the feeling that they can do something about it.
That they are valued, and their actions make a difference.

No matter how good the vision, if the front line troops don't feel connected or empowered to impact it - it's ultimately meaningless (to them).


It's like the janitor at NASA who in the 1960s, claimed he was putting astronauts on the moon.
AND HE WAS RIGHT.

He believed in the vision, but he also understood how his actions were helping achieve the vision.
Without that connection - there is limited traction in my experience.
 
Don't like ads? Remove them while supporting the forum: Subscribe to Fastlane Insiders.

Johnny boy

Legendary Contributor
EPIC CONTRIBUTOR
Speedway Pass
May 9, 2017
1,744
8,431
25
Washington State
Gee bud have you ever tried focusing on making money, and making sure employees are making you money?

Give them a to-do list, not some college 201 business class cliche garbage like "vision" "team player" "take ownership" "drive change". It sounds like I'm in a corporate onboarding powerpoint presentation.

dan kennedy.jpg
 

Kevin88660

Gold Contributor
FASTLANE INSIDER
Read Unscripted!
Speedway Pass
Feb 8, 2019
2,010
2,406
Singapore
I run a company with 12 employees. So far, I've been the type of leader who gets everybody's input, to get them onboard on the vision. But that's becoming more and more impossible.

Recently, I've launched a vision and shifted my style to the more "here's what we are going to do, and here's what I want everybody to do from now on".

We are a software reseller who helps our clients implement and use the software. Most employees and the vision relates to how we deliver our solutions. Our new vision is to "create packages" of every type of implementation and define those packages so they can be reused, marketed, etc. before delivering anything to a client.

It's been very difficult to get employees to do what I say.

I can't just get rid of them - we are a tight knit team and everybody is tightly integrated into everything we do.

Now that I've used the "do what I say" approach for a while, I'm realizing that it's not enough. I need to get people onboard. I noticed during a discussion with one person in the team 2 days ago that he had a lot of un-vented questions and objections, and now that we discussed those, he's suddenly fully onboard.

Conclusion: It's not fast enough to "create a vision jointly" like I used to do. It's my role as the CEO to come up with the general direction and big vision. (Even though I do all the time encourage people to come to me with their ideas and to own their stuff - though I'm perpetually disappointed that people don't - I remember when I was an employee, I wasn't like my current employees are, I was constantly thinking about things to change and improve and frustrated the heck out of the CEO with my push for new things we should do - in the end he was greatful because it led to some fantastic results).

However, it's also not enough to just say what people should do and expect them to do it.

What I need to incorporate next is the best of 2 worlds:
1. Be the visionary, own the vision, come up with the vision and where we should head.
2. But then, also convince people in addition to pushing the vision. Meaning, talk to people, get their objections, make sure they clearly understand everything, answer all their questions, take their input.

So it's neither the "pure team player" who always gets everybody's input, nor the "dictator" who just dictates what to do. It's rather the owner and driver of the ultimate vision, but then getting everybody onboard in a collaborative way.

Anybody else had similar experiences and what's your thoughts on all this? How did you get your organization to:
1. Take ownership and drive change?
2. Change their behavior in accordance with the vision and guidelines you outline?
Whats their objection to building the packages?
 

Odysseus M Jones

[B...{r<°∆°>}--O--{<°∆°>k}...E]
Read Fastlane!
Speedway Pass
Feb 2, 2020
901
1,578
58
Gee bud have you ever tried focusing on making money, and making sure employees are making you money?

Give them a to-do list, not some college 201 business class cliche garbage like "vision" "team player" "take ownership" "drive change". It sounds like I'm in a corporate onboarding powerpoint presentation.

View attachment 43256

To all NASA employees:

1.Build a rocket
2. Chop chop!
 
Don't like ads? Remove them while supporting the forum: Subscribe to Fastlane Insiders.

Ravens_Shadow

THE TRUTH IS OUT THERE
FASTLANE INSIDER
EPIC CONTRIBUTOR
Read Fastlane!
Read Unscripted!
Summit Attendee
Speedway Pass
Oct 2, 2012
1,133
6,592
Austin, TX
Sounds like you need to do three different things.
1. you need an operations guy to take over the day to day team and task management. Someone who you tell the vision to and they help you get it done.

2. You need to be the champion of your employees. Everyone on your team wants to feel important so step in and tell them how well they're doing from time to time. Be their leader and show them how to make a difference.

3. Tell them how great your customers lives will be when your new vision is implemented. Lead with intention, not fear. Don't say "if we do X we're gonna fail". Instead say "if we do X, our customers lives are going to improve so much and our jobs will be easier for it". Give your employees the chance to do the task their way.
 

YelmisPravida

New Contributor
Read Fastlane!
Jan 23, 2012
51
15
Hey Eudaimonium, thanks for your reply! Here are my answers:

Is the 'vision' short and practical, yet still all-encompassing? How does 'creating packages' help or inspire anyone?

The vision is quite big - it's an all-encompassing description of where we're going to be, what we're going to sell, how we're going to deliver, and how we're going to scale. In the end, it's a complete transformation of the business that also describes how it will benefit everybody, lead us to the next stage of our journey, and what it will mean for everybody.

I'd say it's quite a grand and inspiring vision. Some might even call it a bit crazy. It's scary for some of our employees ("What if our current clients don't like the new way we work?" / "What about if they like the personal aspect of how we work together?" etc.), but it's also very exciting for the ones who understand what it will all mean in terms of standardization, scale, ease, specialization, etc.

Is the 'vision' communicated and developed verbally, or in writing, like an employment contract?

It's written down in a single document, and communicated daily through our project management systems, highlighting examples of when some of our employees (still 80% me unfortunately) create new packages and put them on our website, and case studies of how it's helped them, and discussed in almost every one of our weekly company meetings now.

What positions do your 12 employees occupy?

8 are project managers (meaning experts in the software we do and responsible for client delivery), and 4 are front end or full stack developers.

What incentives / consequences do they have?

Good q. They of course like "being cozy with" their clients, so that's a disincentive right there. Thanks for highlighting this to me! I'll more clearly communicate it!

(In fact, I took a break from replying to you right there, updated our vision doc with this common objection, and sent out a message to the team highlighting how this vision will allow our project managers feel more empowered than today and build even more trust and close relationships with their clients.)

Is the framework within which they each operate unclear?

I think it's very clear. I think the insecurity above is one of the key points.

Even if they ignore the overall vision, how can they take ownership for the responsibilities within their role?

This is described in the vision doc. But let me summarize it in brief:

It used to be that when PMs (project managers) encounters something a client needs which we can provide within the general subscription they're on, they'd simply do it for the client.

What I've said now is that:
1) You don't deliver something to the client unless it's clearly defined beforehand what you'll deliver. That's just a waste of time.
2) If you're going to define what to deliver, you might as well define it in a general way so that everybody in the company can benefit from it.
3) The place to define that is on our website - as one of those "Solution Packages" on our new (now launched!) marketplace.
4) Then show it to the client and ask if that's what they need.
5) If yes, deliver it.

(We're also planning to take this one step further, and start creating paid packages that PMs can get a piece of the payment as incentive for delivering those paid packages.)

Have you researched methodologies such as LEAN manufacturing?
Not LEAN, but it sounds like you think it's relevant here so I'll have a look. Thank you! For this particular vision, I'm inspired by for example:
- The E-Myth Revisited
- Built to Sell
 

YelmisPravida

New Contributor
Read Fastlane!
Jan 23, 2012
51
15
Have you read any of Jocko Willink's books on this?
He talks a lot about explaining the WHY of things to troops.
I haven't - but thanks I've added it to my to-read list. I tend to focus a huge amount on the Why in 1-1 meetings, but I might have missed it in communicating this vision.

In fact, I've just taken a moment there to update our vision doc to really clearly express how the way we've gotten to this point will not take us to the next point, and how it will solve all the current problems that everybody have been complaining about (stress, salary, free time). Thank you! :)

The vision is compelling for you - is it compelling for your team?
With the new update, yes! :)

Have you connected the vision, with the benefits to each of them as well?
Do they benefit at all when the vision is achieved?
Now I have :) I just explained the why really clearly and succinctly at the top of the vision doc and shared it in an internal message.

Also, do they have the authority to take action to help the vision?
Or, do you just tell them what to do?
This is exactly the problem: I think I have offered more than enough opportunities - even explicitly - for people to step up and take leadership roles.

But I'm simply starting to come to the conclusion that 80% of people aren't leaders and don't want to be.

But, I'm also coming to the conclusion that the people who don't want to be leaders want to have really clear instructions and guidance on what to do and how to do it, and then they'll excel.

I think I've been disregarding that last point.. just assuming that everybody will lead (come up with their own solutions), given the chance and encouragement. I no longer think they will. I think, instead, they will excel at performing, once you alleviate their main concerns and mental blocks about how to excel.

Thanks for the questions and input! I believe these may have been some of the missing pieces and faulty assumptions on my part!
 
Don't like ads? Remove them while supporting the forum: Subscribe to Fastlane Insiders.

YelmisPravida

New Contributor
Read Fastlane!
Jan 23, 2012
51
15
Give them a to-do list, not some college 201 business class cliche garbage like "vision" "team player" "take ownership" "drive change".
This is my talk here, not with employees.

With employees, what I've done is:
  • Made clear rules about how we deliver a solution to a client.
  • Explained where we're headed and how the company will look (this is what I mean by "The vision" - it's simply a doc explaining what kind of solutions we'll have, which roles we will hire, how we will work, and how we will deliver, etc.)
  • Explained exactly what to do in various situations ("to-do" list).
But you may have a point about not focusing enough on "how to make money". It's in my head as a rough sketch, but not with concrete numbers written down.

I'll have that in mind as I continue to refine this. Thanks!
 

biophase

Legendary Contributor
FASTLANE INSIDER
EPIC CONTRIBUTOR
Read Unscripted!
Summit Attendee
Speedway Pass
Jul 25, 2007
8,242
38,453
Scottsdale, AZ
Our new vision is to "create packages" of every type of implementation and define those packages so they can be reused, marketed, etc. before delivering anything to a client.
This is not a vision. I don't know what it is, but it is not something that would amp up employees.

Imagine you gave a speech and your banner says this, "We strive to create packages so they can be reused and marketed before delivering them to a client"

What the heck does that mean?

A vision statement would be, "To provide the most efficient packaged solutions for our clients"

It used to be that when PMs (project managers) encounters something a client needs which we can provide within the general subscription they're on, they'd simply do it for the client.

What I've said now is that:
1) You don't deliver something to the client unless it's clearly defined beforehand what you'll deliver. That's just a waste of time.
2) If you're going to define what to deliver, you might as well define it in a general way so that everybody in the company can benefit from it.
3) The place to define that is on our website - as one of those "Solution Packages" on our new (now launched!) marketplace.
4) Then show it to the client and ask if that's what they need.
5) If yes, deliver it.
Sounds like you are moving the company backwards. So before your PMs could instantly satisfy a client. Now they will tell their client. I'm sorry I can't implement your solution, I need to go back to my boss and enter it into our website and come up with a "packaged solution" before I can do all of this for you.

Client "Hey man, since you are here, we've been having trouble with the widget A not widgeting. Can you help us with that?"
PM before, "Sure, let me take a look at it. I see the problem, I'll just install widget fixer for you. It will cost $50."
Client "Great!"

PM now, "It's not in our scope, so I'll have to go back and quote it."
PM now 3 days later, "Yeah, we can solve your widget problem, I found a solution in our widget fixer package A for $50."

As an employee, this is so much extra work for something that could have been knocked in and done with. I can see why your employees would hate this. You just handcuffed them from being problem solvers.

Now I get it, a big corporation would need processes like this. But you are a 12 person company and supposed to be quick and nimble.

You didn't create a vision, you created more processes. Most employees don't like more processes.
 

YelmisPravida

New Contributor
Read Fastlane!
Jan 23, 2012
51
15
This is not a vision. I don't know what it is, but it is not something that would amp up employees.

Imagine you gave a speech and your banner says this, "We strive to create packages so they can be reused and marketed before delivering them to a client"

This isn't the vision. This is my summary here of how I want a particular aspect of the business to work.

To clarify: Today, every person delivers basically whatever the client needs, and they have to rely on their own knowledge.

By productizing our deliverables (creating packages that present what we do in a compelling way on our website, making them reusable, and creating a standardized delivery process that can be repeated over and over by anyone without requiring specialized knowledge), we are solving many of the problems we have today with efficiency and scale, making life easier for our project managers, and presenting what we can do for our clients in a marketable way.

What the heck does that mean?

A vision statement would be, "To provide the most efficient packaged solutions for our clients"


Sounds like you are moving the company backwards. So before your PMs could instantly satisfy a client.

No. A more correct way to put it would be: "A senior PM with a lot of experience could instantly satisfy a client sometimes". The entire point is that by not having packaged deliveries, we're putting a lot of pressure on PMs to come up with unique solutions every time and "sell" those benefits to our clients.

You don't scale a company by letting employees do whatever they want for their clients without first creating a repeatable process from it. It may take slightly more time to "package up" a solution before delivering it to a client, but not clearly describing what you're going to deliver and why before delivering it is both wasteful (because it doesn't make the delivery reusable) and irresponsible (because you're not verifying that you understood what the client wants and why).

Now they will tell their client. I'm sorry I can't implement your solution, I need to go back to my boss and enter it into our website and come up with a "packaged solution" before I can do all of this for you.

Client "Hey man, since you are here, we've been having trouble with the widget A not widgeting. Can you help us with that?"
PM before, "Sure, let me take a look at it. I see the problem, I'll just install widget fixer for you. It will cost $50."
Client "Great!"

How will the PM know that we have a widget fixer if it's not described somewhere that we have it and how it will be installed?

How will the client know that we have it?

What if the client could browse for it and in some cases even install it themselves without relying on us to do it for them?

This is my entire point of why we need to package up our solutions into reusable packages.

PM now, "It's not in our scope, so I'll have to go back and quote it."
PM now 3 days later, "Yeah, we can solve your widget problem, I found a solution in our widget fixer package A for $50."

As an employee, this is so much extra work for something that could have been knocked in and done with. I can see why your employees would hate this. You just handcuffed them from being problem solvers.

Actually, no. It's the complete opposite. Today they have to "reinvent" the solution every time, uniquely for each client. By forcing them to create a reusable package from it, I'm requiring them to use their imagination to come up with a repeatable way to solve a particular problem, in this case and in the future. And that's how we can create scale. And that requires true creativity.

(Obviously this is a harder problem to solve. But it's also much more rewarding and useful. However, I'm fully aware that not everybody can do this, and we do have templates support functions to help the PMs get creative in this new way. Honestly, what we require the PM to do is not hard. They just need to describe what they're going to deliver to a client before delivering it. That is a pre-requisite for any delivery, in any circumstance, anyway. It's very irresponsible to skip this step in any situation.)
 
Don't like ads? Remove them while supporting the forum: Subscribe to Fastlane Insiders.

YelmisPravida

New Contributor
Read Fastlane!
Jan 23, 2012
51
15
SITUATIONAL UPDATE:

We've now officially launched our solutions marketplace, and we have covered it with enough solutions to warrant a new "page" at the bottom of the site :)

Using the tips from this thread, I have more clearly articulated the benefits of this approach for the PMs and how it's going to help them.

Last Friday I set a deadline that for this week's meeting, everybody is to create at least one solution. Now, Every pm (except one, who had their reasons) has now created at least one solution.

I've set a goal that by the end of the year, we'll have at least 100 solutions, and communicated that solution to the PMs. I can actually sense that the atmosphere is shifting - after seeing it live, and several "internal success stories" of how actually putting the solution "on paper" so to say and asking the client if that's what they want saved them a lot of time and misunderstanding, we seem to have some shift in momentum. People seem to "get it" more and more.

I've now asked each PM to show the newly launched (and still labelled "Beta") marketplace of solutions to clients and gather feedback (and brace for negative feedback to because clients like pointing out the flaws if you ask them to) so that we can build v2.

I'll keep the thread updated, and excited to continue reading everybody's comments :)
 

Post New Topic

Please SEARCH before posting.
Please select the BEST category.

Post new topic

New Topics

Fastlane Insiders

View the forum AD FREE.
Private, unindexed content
Detailed process/execution threads
Ideas needing execution, more!

Join Fastlane Insiders.

Must Read Books...

Explore books recommended by MJ DeMarco and other members of the Fastlane entrepreneurial community.
Fastlane Bookstore
Top