The Most Common Sense Methodology to Helping Your Team Members WIN: The Vital 5

Grayson Lafrenz
By Grayson Lafrenz

The Vital 5 Goals is Power Digital’s secret to our industry-leading 95% retention rate & key driver to winning #1 Best Places to Work in San Diego

One of the things that I pride myself on that we have done really well at Power Digital is helping our team members grow and develop. I’ve seen this pay off for our team members individually as well as for the company as a whole. If your team is winning in their careers and personal lives, your company will also win.

DISCLAIMER: this is assuming you have recruited the right people who care about their careers 🙂

Over the years we have had trial and error when it comes to the development of talent, and I feel strongly that we have gotten tremendously better over the years. When Power Digital started in 2012, I would give us a “D grade” when it comes to training and development.  We tried hard but that was not good enough. Today, I would give us an “A grade” when it comes to this and feel we are at the leading edge. That being said, we need to always continue to evolve our employee development programs in this constantly shifting game of growth and development because what is an “A grade” today will not look the same in a year from now; the standards continue to grow!

One of the biggest drivers for us has been the development of the “Vital 5 Goals,” which came to fruition back in 2015 when we did not feel satisfied that we were doing enough to help our team members win in all aspects of their careers and lives.

When it comes to these Vital 5 goals, I’ve found if each team member understands and documents the goals and vision, and Power Digital management helps team members hit them, it allows us to have the most motivated and happy team as a whole.

This has been a huge driver in our industry-leading 95% team retention rate, Power Digital’s recognition as San Diego Business Journal’s #1 Place to Work, and to why we’ve been on Inc.’s list of Best Places to Work two years in a row. This is also why we have such badass people at Power Digital, who are constantly getting better and growing our company as a brand as well as from a client and revenue perspective.

Our Vital 5 goals have even caught the attention of top-tier press, which you can check out in this interview I did with Forbes.

The Vital 5 Goals

The Vital 5 is a group of five goals that we have each and every team member at Power Digital create at the start of the year and we monitor progress on throughout the year. Each team member puts a great deal of thought into these goals and they are reviewed with myself and their direct managers so there is full transparency and we can help coach and get them to where they want to be.

DISCLAIMER: these Vital 5 goals are a hybrid of goals and vision for themselves and where they want to go.  Unlike traditional goal setting, some of them may not be totally measurable or “SMART” but really making a statement of where they want to go and what they want to focus on and accomplish for the year ahead.

Here are the Vital 5 Questions:

1) How much money do you want to make this year?

A big part of our compensation plan at Power Digital is performance-based and I feel that we could do a whole blog post on crafting compensation models because it can be complicated but is so key to motivating employees to do the things that drive your business. You need your team to understand compensation and make it as simple as possible, otherwise, they will not be confident in their earnings and not be clear on how to maximize their compensation.

With the Vital 5 kicking off at the beginning of the year, each person sets an earning goal where if they hit this number they would be THRILLED and would look back at the year as super successful from a financial perspective. Throughout the year we measure the pacing of this goal with the team member and show them ways to maximize their compensation plan, from bringing in new business or team members, to retaining their clients.  We help them develop micro goals and focus areas to do everything in their power to hit this earning goal.

Knowing what success looks like for them alone does a ton. This part of the Vital 5 was the most successful in the first few years with team members. What I’ve noticed is as team members realized how this is part of the plan sometimes people would get a little aggressive and unrealistic when it comes to earnings (because they know that leadership will do whatever we can to help them achieve it), but having these goals is better than not knowing what your team is looking to earn and striving towards.

2) What is the #1 skillset you want to master this year?

I’ve found that specifically when working with millennials, and really anyone (even with myself), is that as soon as a team member feels like they are doing the same thing and feels as if they are “stuck” and not advancing, that’s the beginning of the end.

When people feel this way, they won’t be happy, driven, or confident in their role in the company. The won’t feel they are progressing in their career. By putting down in writing one big skillset they want to develop that year and leadership getting them the resources they need to master this and holding them accountable, we can assure the team is always making huge steps forward year in and year out. In turn, this keeps them happy, driven, and motivated.

QUICK STORY: I was just reviewing this with one of our best team members and when we looked at the skillset he wanted to focus on for 2018 we both laughed because he was so beyond that.  It was child’s play for him and we couldn’t believe that at the beginning of the year that is where he was. We even came up with another skill set for him to focus on for rest of the year because he had mastered his previous goal so fully. I’ve also seen first-hand many other times where a team member felt they were not where they wanted to be and when we reference back to their Vital 5 goals they’re blown away and can see the path of how far they have come much more clearly.

Sometimes we even set two of these goals, it just depends on the person. We want to make sure the skill sets are not too granular because it can mean that they’re not being ambitious enough fo what they can do in a year.

3) What do you want your role in the company to look like by this time next year?

When we work through this goal, we have our team imagine their dream for how their role would look like at Power Digital in one year from that day. This is very valuable because we have a very entrepreneurial culture and have a pathway to leadership that is diverse, so understanding what they envision their role and path to look like is critical as a manager.

Here is the Path to leadership graphic that explains how team members can advance:

As a manager, you should understand where their passion lies – whether it’s managing a team, pivoting into a new role, running a department, creating a new service offering – we found that our team members perform best when they are doing what they are passionate about and what they love.

In order for us to help them get to this goal and maximize their potential value, we have to understand where they want to go and what their personal vision is for their future.  If we don’t know this and help them to get there they will go somewhere else to accomplish this vision. WE DO NOT WANT THAT!

4) What is your #1 big personal goal for the year?

Work-life balance is key and is hard as a service business and agency with a fast pace and sometimes heavy workload to manage.

We find it critical that we work with each team member to come up with his or her one big personal goal for the year. This needs to be all about them and not about the company or their career.

Some examples would be:

  • Buying their first home (2 team members had this for 2018 and both made it happen)
  • Getting a new car
  • Going on an incredible trip or having a special experience

Whatever it is, we want to know what it is and be sure to drive them towards that because if they don’t have a huge personal win for that year they’re going to have a real work-life balance issue and no matter what they accomplish professionally the year will not be balanced and a complete success.

We also want to know this big goal so we can celebrate when they reach it and hold them accountable for making it happen.

5) What support do you need from management to get you to where you want to be?

Even though we are a flat organization in terms of management and each team member has the ability to control his or her destiny without being micromanaged, all of us (but especially people who are younger in their careers) need to feel supported in our goals.

I WOULD BET: If you were to survey most managers, they would say they support their teams well, but if you were to survey those who are being managed by the same group of managers, they will probably say they would like more support from their manager or that the manager was not supporting them the exact way they would like to be supported. This is super common BUT it doesn’t need to be that way! If you know how your team wants to be supported and care, it should be no problem to add that element into your managerial arsenal. Management needs to be customized to an individual’s learning style and personality.  It is NOT one size fits all. We are managing people, not robots (although that day of managing robots is probably not far away).

This Vital 5 goal is the simple solution to this problem of supporting team members where they really need it. By simply asking your people how they want to be supported gives you the clear insight into what they really need and where they feel your currently lacking or not focused enough.

You can check back in and reference this to see if what you’re doing is really at the level of what they need and asked for. You should obviously support them beyond this and focus on the formula you know works as a manager and where they might have blind spots, but if you’re not doing what they explicitly asked for, you are most likely the one with blind spots as a manger.

Pretty Simple, Right?

Yes, I agree, most of being a great manager and leader is very simple…. These five principles are about as common sense as they come.

Just having these conversations and documenting them will allow you to understand your team and what they need to be successful on a much deeper level.

These goals should be collaborative but at the end of the day should be dictated by the team member, not by the manager. I can tell you that these meetings every year and the check ins throughout the year are some of the most fun sessions I have as a manager. I get to hear what our people are driven to do, understand it, and then help them get there.

Often times I have other ideas in my head of where I see our team heading and what I think they should do to get there, but I know if they are setting these goals based on what they are individually passionate about and hit these things they won’t look to take their career anywhere else and they will be reflecting at the end of each year on what their career looks like and how Power Digital is empowering and supporting their journey.

At the end of the day, nothing matters more than that! I encourage you to create your own version of the Vital 5 for your company and culture.  Keeping score is the key to telling if you’re on track and if you won the game at the end of the year!

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Grayson is one of the Co-founders at Power Digital and the CEO. He is born and raised in San Diego and has a wealth of knowledge in Digital Marketing, Entrepreneurship, Team Building and Business.