The Elements Ironstone Blog

Current news and trending topics for sales and financial industry professionals


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Unleash Your Team

Unleashing your team from the chains of a micromanaged and controlling culture will create positive growth, a winning team and take your leadership skills to a new level!

Leaders are sometimes afraid to let go of the leash and open a new world of possibility to their firm. When team members are afraid to share and contribute ideas, grow and learn in their current environment and expand their horizons, they become bored, unchallenged and will most likely leave your firm for something better.  It is the harsh truth; you must care about your team to create employee engagement, satisfaction and retention.

In our blog, Implementing Team Development Programs Often Overlooked”, we outlined a process to implement a team development program. By following each step, you eliminate the need for micromanaging your team.  Trust me, your team does not want to be micromanaged!  The four components that Ironstone focuses on to implement a team development program are:

  • Preparation
  • Incentives
  • Benefits
  • Technology

Read more about each component in our blog : https://aeschlapia.wordpress.com/2012/05/23/implementing-team-development-programs-often-overlooked/.   Once you have put these components into your human capital mission, you will find that employees are capable of managing their individual positions within the firm.  Support your team members and empower them to be as great as they can be.

How Do You Begin To Unleash Your Team?

Perhaps the first place to begin is to take inventory on your leadership skills.  A team that performs well depends on your leadership abilities, training and development you provide and being a coach your team members can trust.

Being a coach to your team is highly motivational and almost guaranteed to improve performance.  As a leader, your role is to help your team understand their positions.  It is their job to take ownership of assigned job descriptions and design a process to carry it out effectively.  Willingness to support your team’s development sets an example and will contribute to the culture and performance of your firm and team members.

 Tip: Ask team members how you can help them develop their own solution.

As humans, most of us thrive in a continued growth and development society which consists of ongoing training and learning. A team development program will contribute to the natural desires of dedicated employees. Team development will:

 

  • Help team members adjust to changing job requirements
  • Create a pool of qualified team members for possible new roles within your firm
  • Develop a more effective, efficient and productive workforce
  • Produce team members capable of taking on new significant challenges and reach firm goals

Understanding Needs of Your Team 

 Identifying the needs of your team is crucial in implementing a successful team development program.  Some training will need to be universal and apply to most, if not all, of your team members.  However, each team member is unique and owns a specific skill and passion set.  Goals and objectives of team members will be parallel when they relate to overall firm goals but will be dissimilar in relation to their individual job duties and responsibilities. Talk to your team to find out what training they want and need.  Work with them to develop a personal plan that will help them get the training they need in an economic and efficient manner.     Start by holding one-on-one meetings to discuss:

  • Job Descriptions
  • Training and developmental needs
  • Current performance levels
  • Areas for improvement
  • Action steps to fill any gaps

How Well Do You Develop Your People?

*Mind Tools (www.mindtools.com) offers a great quiz for you to take, allowing you to evaluate your leadership skills and identifying areas for improvement. The quiz identifies five main factors related to developing people. This will give you a clear understanding and foundation to develop a plan for yourself to improve your personal team development skills.  Follow this link to take the quiz!  http://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/team-development.htm

(*Mind Tools-www.mindtools.com)

 How did you score?   Let us know!!

In the ever evolving world of change, helping your team adjust to change while remaining successful, sends a clear and concise message that you care.  If you are willing to support your team’s growth and job satisfaction, you will retain good people and an engaged workforce.  Once you have implemented a training and development program into your human capital mission, you will find that employees are capable of managing their position within your firm.  Support your team members and empower them to be as great as they can be.

 “What’s worse than training your workers and losing them? 

Not training them and keeping them.”

– Zig Ziglar, author and motivational speaker

 Learn more about how Ironstone can impact the operational effectiveness of your firm!  Read more at www.ironstonehq.com  Want more information on team development?   Contact us at http://ironstonehq.com/contact/

 

Follow us as we explore each of Ironstone’s Fundamental 4™!

  • Strategic Planning
  • Business Development
  • Operational Effectiveness
  • The Human Element

• Email us at info@ironstonehq.com
• Call our office at 800-917-8020
• Connect with us:

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Performance Management vs Performance Reviews

It is that time of year when most of you are beginning to think about annual performance reviews. For most, it’s a dreaded process that is done only out of obligation or outdated processes in your firm.

In a recent Human Resources Forum poll, 16% of the people that responded have no performance appraisal system at all. Supervisory opinions, provided once a year, are the only appraisal process for 56% of the respondents. Another 16% described their appraisals as based solely on supervisor opinions, but administered more than once a year.*

Take your firm to higher levels of standards and accountability by burying performance reviews and adopting a performance management system. Effective leadership encompasses a continuous learning and development program with diminutive reviews throughout the year. Place focus on the goals of your firm.

Implement a performance management system that will:

  • Boost the success of your firm
  • Encourage personal development and advancement of your team members

Performance management will strengthen the foundation of your firm by:

  • Ensuring goals are consistently met
  • Provide focus on fundamental areas in your firm
  • Clarify job expectations and responsibilities
  • Improve communication
  • Compel employee behaviors that align with your firm’s mission, vision and goals
  • Enhance employee engagement and productivity

Performance management is an essential tool for top performing advisory firms.  It may be one of the more time consuming processes you implement, but will improve overall effectiveness in your firm and provide your firm with vast, positive outcomes.

Getting Started

The process of implementing a performance management system is extremely detailed.  Ironstone provides a series of steps to get you started.

  • Update job descriptions that include the purpose, duties and responsibilities
  • Set performance goals that are measurable
  • Prioritize each job responsibility and goal
  • Define performance standards for each component within the job description
  • Schedule meetings with employees to review performance and provide feedback
  • Document a record of performance
  • Implement a learning and development program readily available for employees
  • Incorporate the opportunity to gather feedback from the employee’s peers and/or clients

Encourage human resource departments, managers and supervisors to be accountable for performance improvement.  All components in your firm are part of a system that create value for your clients; the same holds true with a performance management system in that all components must be functioning to create value for your employees and the firm.

Ironstone can assist you in creating a new plan or evaluate your existing plan and collaborate and strategize with you to ensure a strong process with tactics that are cohesive with your firm goals.

We are curious!!  Does your firm hold annual performance reviews or do you have a performance management process in place?  Tell us about it!

 

Follow us as we explore each of Ironstone’s Fundamental 4™!

  • Strategic Planning
  • Business Development
  • Operational Effectiveness
  • The Human Element

Coming up next, learn about Strategic Planning and Your Firm’s Business Model

  * Step-by-step to a Performance Management System-Human Resources

 

• Email us at info@ironstonehq.com
• Call our office at 800-917-8020
• Connect with us:


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Relationship Management or Incentive Plans? Which Will Inspire Your Team?

Incentive plans should not be misconstrued as a means to motivate your team.  You first need to  build concrete goals and then inspire your team to reach each goal with conviction.    It is imperative to communicate overall firm goals with your team.  Group and one-on-one meetings provide an opportune time to discuss and evaluate strategies to reach each goal.  Allowing your team members the opportunity to contribute to the overall success of your firm will instill motivation, confidence and passion that incentive plans cannot do on their own.

Before implementing an incentive plan, make certain your team members are fully engaged and committed to the position they hold at your firm.  This will mean you, as a manager, must realize offering an incentive plan will not magically transform a disengaged team or team member.   In our blog, “Learn How to Make an Employee Incentive Plan Effective,”  https://aeschlapia.wordpress.com/2012/04/03/learn-how-to-make-employee-incentive-plans-effective/  we stressed the importance of being a good manager by guiding your employees to work on what is most important and then implementing an incentive plan as a reward.

Employee incentive plans are a significant component for firms wanting to stay competitive and on track with the pace of evolution in the workforce.   You will need to do your homework for your plan to be effective:

  • Recognize all factors that affect your team’s behavior.
  • Look at the type of culture you have in your firm.
  • Understand each of your goals and the processes you will use.
  • Develop a measurement system for each goal.

At Ironstone, we have found many employee incentive plans simply don’t reap their intended results because  they were implemented for the wrong reasons.  Don’t be fooled in believing that an incentive program will counter poor behavior, performance or disengaged team members.

Start your incentive plan after you have managed your employees to the level of being:

  • Engaged
  • Passionate
  • Productive
  • Loyal

Once your team is instilled with the qualities listed above, you can implement your incentive plan by including the following critical elements:

  • Identify your desired activity/goal
  • Develop the tactical plan and how employees will work toward achieving each goal
  • The amount of time allotted to obtain each goal
  • The reward for achieving the goal

Remember every aspect of your plan needs to be measured to ensure the program’s success in achieving each goal.  Make sure your firm’s strategic goals are concise and specific which provides team members a clear understanding of what is expected from them.

Goals should be challenging, yet achievable.  The incentive plan will be destined

 for failure if goals are interpreted as being unattainable.

A successful incentive program requires that each feature is suited to your team members’ interests.  Find out what motivates your team.  Adapting each element of the program to fit your team will provide you with engaged participants and enhance the effectiveness of the program.

Ironstone can assist you in strengthening relationship management at your firm which will lay the foundation needed to implement a successful employee incentive program.

Readers, we are curious!   What are your thoughts on employee incentive programs?

Follow us as we explore each of Ironstone’s Fundamental 4™!

• Strategic Planning
• Business Development
• Operational Effectiveness
• The Human Element

You won’t want to miss our next in the series: Business Development-Prospecting

• Email us at info@ironstonehq.com
• Call our office at 800-917-8020
• Connect with us:


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Knowledge Is Power

Knowledge Is Power, but Fruitless if Poorly Communicated

Good communicators are those who can listen just as well as talk. Fostering growth of your team members while attending to your individual growth is one of the best qualities of a good communicator. When you truly listen to team members, they feel validated and you will be providing a supportive, compassionate environment that employees can develop and thrive in.

Linking Communication To Your Business Strategy
Everyone wants to be heard. Most firms (over 95%) do not have a formal and comprehensive communication strategy in place. However, most organizational leaders will agree that linking communication to your business strategy is essential to effective and consistent business operations.

Effective communication in your firm will contribute to your organizational success in many ways, such as:
• Building employee morale, satisfaction, & engagement
• Helping employees understand the terms & conditions of their employment
• Developing employee commitment & loyalty
• Providing employees with a voice—an increasingly meaningful issue for employees
• Reducing chance for misunderstandings and potential grievances and lawsuits
• Creating greater efficiency and reducing costs

It is inevitable that companies with effective communication financially outperform those that do not.
Having a powerful and successful employee communication program takes more than just having the right tools in place. It requires building a strong foundation to ensure that employees understand their role in your firm.

The #1 key factor in developing effective communication:
You need to view communication as a critical factor to the overall success of your firm
and key to changing employee behavior.

Building a Communication Strategy
Developing a communication strategy begins with linking communication to the strategic plan of your firm, including your firm’s mission, vision, values, strategic goals and objectives; as well as your brand.

Your communication strategy should include:
• The roles of key leaders
• A budget that allows for the use of various types of communication channels
• A process by which leaders evaluate any particular situation driving the need to communicate
• A method for generating feedback

Avoid the misconception that communication is only about delivering messages to employees about business issues, policies and procedures. Two-way communication plays an essential role in your comprehensive strategy.   As a leader in your firm it is vital to train employees and provide tools needed to continually develop better communication skills.

Our experience and expertise in developing communication strategies will aide your firm in team efficiency and effectiveness. Ironstone has tools available such as the Myers-Briggs Personality assessments that will help you understand and convey meaningful information and express ideas effectively to attain a deeper level of understanding.

We specialize in identifying gaps in your existing plan and will collaborate with you to develop solutions that are parallel to achieving the results you desire.

Contact us for assistance in starting and improving your Communication Strategy. We want to hear from you! Share your best ideas here! What services do you provide that are unique from your competitors? We always love hearing from you!

Follow us as we explore each of Ironstone’s Fundamental 4™!
• Strategic Planning
• Business Development
• Operational Effectiveness
• The Human Element

You won’t want to miss our next in the series: Strategic Planning-Strategic Alliances
• Email us at info@ironstonehq.com
• Call our office at 800-917-8020
• Follow us on twitter @ https://twitter.com/#!/AndreaSchlapia
• Join us on Facebook! https://www.facebook.com/IronstoneCommunications
• Connect with us on LinkedIn @ http://www.linkedin.com/profile/view?id=29647364&trk=tab_pro


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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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Performance Review Do’s & Dont’s

Here are some of the most common pillars for performance and pitfalls that hinder effectiveness:
Do’s:

  • Clear job descriptions
  • Clearly communicated performance expectations
  • Conscientious documentation
  • Relevant rating system
  • Listen – explore all possible explanations in order to devise appropriate and effective solutions

 Don’ts:

  • Personal bias & emotions cloud judgments
  • Compensation concerns will detract from the evaluation of behavior/performance
  • Extreme ratings are signs of excessive lenience/strictness or false assessments
  • Prohibitive communication – condescension, comparing, overemphasizing problems
  • Lack of follow-up – strong coaching cultures encourage higher employee performance


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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