The Elements Ironstone Blog

Current news and trending topics for sales and financial industry professionals


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ENGAGEMENT: GET YOUR A$$ INTO GEAR!

As an extension of our Q2 newsletter, here is a deeper look into the factors that influence and shape engagement:

Infrastructure

As soon as your practice adds support staff, the question of structure rears its head. At first, with only one or two people assisting you, that may seem a rather silly concern. But add enough staff, or grow to the silo (multiple advisors sharing space and in many cases staff with different client bases) or ensemble (multiple advisors with shared staff working together) models, and suddenly it becomes a very real issue. Choosing the right structure is intimately related to the next issue—roles.

Roles

The hierarchical organizational structure that defined American business for so long is rapidly falling by the wayside. Today who does what, and who is responsible for what, should have less to do with title or position than with aptitude and desire. As an advisor managing a team, you’re fortunate—you have much more latitude than, for example, a department head at a Fortune 500 company. Ironstone can show you how to make the most of this freedom.

Recruiting and Retention

Your practice won’t have the headcount to allow for any Hamsters—there’s just nowhere for them to hide. That’s the good news. The bad news is that a small staff means that every member has significant impact, and that in turn means you can’t afford to hire the wrong person. How, then, do you select people who will be easily engaged? We’ll show you the keys to an effective process.

Compensation

Engaged employees focus first on what they produce for the organization, but that doesn’t mean that compensation is irrelevant. An engaged employee is a valuable resource, and a key team member who can be just as engaged with another employer for more money is likely to depart sooner rather than later. Learn how best to balance your total compensation package to retain your team.

Non-monetary Rewards

Money matters, but there is much more than money that matters. Recognition is consistently cited as among the most effective motivators, and you should never underestimate its impact in the close-knit environment of your practice. Constructing appropriate incentive systems above and beyond base compensation that will achieve the desired result is also crucial. Our workshop will offer creative approaches to this challenge.

Self-development

One of the best ways to retain engaged team members is to provide a clear path to greater responsibility and assist your people in progressing along it. In some cases that may even mean that they one day move from support staff to being an advisor themselves. Facilitating that process instead of standing in the way will earn you tremendous loyalty.

Assessment Tools

There are a number of tools available, and Ironstone can help both you and your team members recognize where their aptitudes and preferences lie—and no, many of them won’t actually know, especially in the case of something they’ve never done before. The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator and Profiles International Assessment are examples of instruments with a tested theoretical base and extensive use, and we’ll show you how best to apply them.

Evaluation

Most companies require some form of employee evaluation. Performance reviews are often a dreaded chore for both manager and employee—which is why you may have decided to forego the process in your practice—but what if you could transform it into something of true value? Ironstone can show you how.

Coaching

Helping your team members achieve maximum value to your practice and maximum personal satisfaction won’t happen magically or overnight. It requires consistent and ongoing guidance, feedback, and communication. Our workshops will show you how to coach consistently and effectively.


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Keep Your New Year’s Resolution

10 Tips to Make Your Resolutions Stick

Encountering a setback is one of the most common reasons why New Year’s Resolutions are abandoned.  But first knowing what a resolution is plays a key role in keeping that resolution.  It’s common to frame a resolution in the form of a promise or oath.  This often makes it hard to keep since it is instant failure if you break a promise.  It may be easier to carry out by defining resolutions as decisions, course corrections, or a new direction.  Tackle your year with these ten tips to help you maintain your 2011 resolutions.

Get over the honeymoon period: It’s easy to get caught up in the moment of ‘a new start’ and to have a strong sense of commitment to change.  Before the initial excitement wears off, make a list of the benefits of your resolutions instead of the reasons why you need the resolution.  For example, if you need to manage your time better focus on the fact that you will be more relaxed and more confident because you are on top of things, instead of focusing on not being late for everything.  These positive associations prolong and renew your motivation rather than constantly remind you of the negative things that need to be eliminated.

Be Proactive: Have coping strategies to deal with problems that will come up.

Play to your strengths: Some people are more likely to achieve their goals if they set specific objectives and write them down, while others are more likely to achieve their goals if they go public and share them with their family and friends.  Why not do both, and cover all your bases?

Consider levels of motivation: For the less committed this means recognizing the progress made so far – look how far you’ve come.  For the more motivated this means pointing out the work that still needs to be done – look where you’re going.

Change the name of the game: Why does it have to be a new year’s resolution?  If you aren’t afraid of making resolutions at any time during the year, they are less likely to lose the luster they are born with in the presence of the New Year and the shiny disco ball you were dancing under all night.

Start small: Taking on too much often derails resolutions.  Set small, measurable, and attainable goals that will yield feedback and results within a few weeks.  Break goals down into daily, weekly, monthly, or quarterly milestones.  Don’t expect them to take the full year to materialize.

Change takes time and patience: Habits take time to develop, and therefore take time to break.  Don’t try to change all your unhealthy habits at the same time.  Try to replace one unhealthy habit with a healthy one before moving onto the next.

Empower yourself: We are human and by definition, not perfect.  Know beforehand that you may stray from your goals, but that the quickest recovery will be to recognize the set back and take immediate action to correct it.  It will only waste time to wallow in the mishap and criticisms about it.

Ask for help: While asking for help is often looked upon as the presence of weakness, it is actually quite the opposite.  It takes a significant amount of courage and trust to reveal our vulnerabilities and needs to others.  A helping hand (in whichever shape of form you need) strengthens your resilience and ability to manage stress.

Take some time: New Year’s resolutions are usually last minute decisions, and therefore don’t encompass the entirety of the changes that you will benefit from.  Take some time to think about what things will affect the most positive change in your life.  Don’t begin your resolutions with the phrase: “I will never…”.

While you keep the above 10 steps in mind, it is important to realize that there will be stumbling blocks.  One way to help you be proactive about obstacles is to keep track of your progress.  This way you will see which strategies led to success and which ones did not.  Throughout the process, it’s important to remember that the start of a new year isn’t meant to serve as a catalyst for sweeping character changes, but rather to reflect on past behaviors and resolve to make positive lifestyle modifications.


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Business Plan Feature Article

Ironstone Communications was recently featured in the Raymond James Practice Intelligence newsletter, on creating your business plan for success. Download the attached newsletter. http://ow.ly/d/9zb


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Top 10 Lessons From Comeback Women

Women, as the more creative of the human species, can also be more resilient. Following are creative strategies for success culled from the lessons learned from women who have failed a few times along the way.

1. Do guy’s stuff: Kathryn Bigelow has taken a lot of criticism over the course of her career for doing action and violence. It works for her!

2. Work-family works: Today’s work culture is more sensitive to the needs of families. If you do not have flexible work options, show your boss the mounting research on flex options and increased productivity.

3. Seek empowering workplace cultures: Bigelow was in the director’s chair.  Workers who have more decision-making authority over their daily job functions are less susceptible to stress, burnout and absenteeism.

4. Age and experience matter: Women of a certain age are just moving into their own. Forget about ageism in Hollywood casting line-ups; direct the movie and do the casting.

5. Working smart: Long hours are not the way to the boardroom. Use your time wisely.

6. The engineer’s mindset: The strong demand for women in fields such as engineering is re-engineering out dated mindsets. Keep in mind that today you have more power in the equation.

7. Quantify everything: Women are at the top in sales for an important reason – performance is transparent and measured.

8. Balancing work and family: Family is a stress buffer, not another event to juggle on your schedule.

9. Take the Initiative: Women still need to do more to get to the same place. Work smarter not overtime. Be proactive. Look for opportunities to take anticipatory action.

10. Get up, brush yourself off, and start over again. Sandra Bullock said it best in her Oscar acceptance speech, “Did I really earn this or did I just wear you all down?”


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Ingredients for Success? – New Lessons for Women

At this year’s Oscars, a number of once fallen women sauntered across the red carpet as not only winners but at the top of one of the world’s most competitive fields. Of course, Kathryn Bigelow is the biggest winner. Having suffered through flops, she has now secured her place in the pantheon of the world’s greatest directors.  Sandra Bullock, after having received a Razzie the day before, demonstrated the grace of a good loser.

Am I the only one to notice that women who succeed are often carrying briefcases full of lessons learned through failure on their way to the top? These successful women have managed to psychologically overpower the negativity associated with failure. Few viewed Sandra Bullock as an Oscar contender after she picked up the Razzie for worst actress the night before, yet she rose above the crowd, and maybe even a few snickers, as she awaited her greater destiny at the Oscars.

These women were able to draw from a repository of inner strength. At the first sign of failure, it is important to keep things in perspective. You lost the major account but the sun is still shining, your well-adjusted children are at home waiting to go to the park and your sales are edging up year-over-year.  Look on the bright side. You are in sales, not acting. Nothing could be worse than winning the Razzie.

Build a repository of strength by making values-driven goals and decisions. Write down your values and line them up with your goals. Note the positive values-driven outcomes in your life. By sticking steadfast to your values, you will be able to develop a repository of strength to achieve your next set of goals.

Self-efficacy, or confidence in one’s own abilities, is a strong determinant of success.  Values-based actions encourage positivity. Thoughts typically precede and shape actions. Like a coach shouting positive encouragement, positive thoughts will resurface as positive re-enforcements when we are facing our toughest challenges.