Do You Trust Your Colleagues Enough to Say This?

Putting the gun in their hands can uncover their true colours

Imagine you’re CEO of a small company. Your sales director has a variable bonus linked to new sales. During the year, the business strategy changes to deal with unforeseen circumstances. The sales director will now have to refocus on retaining existing customers, rather than acquiring new ones.

At year end, it’s time for their annual review. Under the original agreement, their bonus should be zero. You want to keep them motivated, but you also need to look after your business. It’s your call — so what should you do?

Putting the gun in your opponent’s hands

You might take inspiration from Bruce Dunlevie, GP of Benchmark Capital. As legend has it, when he’s negotiating equity valuation with the founders of potential investments, he throws this line at them:

‘You tell me what’s fair, and I’ll do it.’

Because he’s holding the money, Bruce has significant power in this negotiation — but with that one line he hands over power to the entrepreneur. He gives them the gun.

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Do You Trust Your Colleagues Enough to Say This? was originally published in The Founder Coach on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.