Sam Reese

Q&A with Sam Reese: How leadership can get employees invested into the company’s revenue performance culture.

Sam Reese is the CEO of Vistage — the world’s leading business advisory and executive coaching organization that helps high integrity leaders make great decisions that benefit their companies, families and communities. He has experienced firsthand how a business culture ingrained in revenue performance can lead an entire workforce with clear goals and transparent outcomes.



Chelsey: What does revenue performance mean to you, to Vistage?

Sam: For me, revenue performance is synonymous to healthy growth — growing in a way that is sustainable and has growth push behind it, so you don’t find yourself in a bad situation where you are always going up and down.

Healthy growth always has to be the key metric companies are speaking to. Healthy companies are growing companies. This growth has no context unless you can be crystal clear about the company purpose and vision.

Everyone in the company needs to know what you do and why. To do something great as a team, you need to rally around a vision and purpose, otherwise you are just asking people to ring the cash register.

Chelsey: How does Vistage make revenue performance a priority?

Sam: We put it in the context of our game plan. Every year we build a game plan. Everything is anchored around our purpose and vision. Then we create a game plan for how we will “keep score” around the year. We build an operating cadence. Every employee has a bonus tied to the number. We give monthly updates. We operate under outlook budgeting — if we get ahead, then maybe we can spend a little more on new ideas; if we get behind, then we don’t.

Monitors throughout the office display our company stats, so everyone knows exactly where we are at all times. There is no mystery and every single employee is included.

Chelsey: How do you get people to believe in the growth of the company — as more than numbers?

Sam: They believe in the numbers because they believe in the vision — where we are going. The vision is more than what we sell. In fact, every single meeting starts with a member success story, because members are our engine. It’s not revenue for the sake of revenue — but the revenue is greater impact we are going to have on leaders and communities.

Chelsey: How have you established revenue performance as a responsibility of all departments?

Sam: The No. 1 input into our game plan is every single department’s own GPS (goals, performance objectives, strategies) that rolls up to overall company goals. Then we put the rhythm together for the year: Every leader has a weekly one-on-one with their team as well as brings their entire team together for a group meeting.

Most companies have the numbers but not the communication plan or operating rhythm of the company. Relationships are vital to employee investment and company culture.

Chelsey: How can leaders engrain revenue performance into their company culture?

Sam: You can’t build a culture like this unless you believe in (1) transparency. Your team can take good and bad news. They want and deserve to know the truth — even when things are tight.

Also, it’s a hollow exercise to drive the business if you can’t hang it on an understanding of (2) why you exist as a company. Revenue performance numbers are just numbers when they aren’t connected to a bigger purpose.

Lastly, don’t leave it to chance. This can’t be just charts and graphs. This job requires heavy lifting. Stop complaining about your team and (3) look to yourself and see what your leadership is missing. You have to have the hard discussions and truly lead.

For more on making revenue performance a priority for everyone in your company, read our previous post: Revenue Performance Concerns Every Employee.