The Elements Ironstone Blog

Current news and trending topics for sales and financial industry professionals


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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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Ways to Lead Your Workforce by Example

An executive who works alongside team members is rewarded with better performance but chumming up to employees is a fine balancing act.  Too much comfort may breed complacency and an unwillingness to take on challenges.  You want your team to support and respect your decisions but you do not want anyone to become the head of your fan club.  Getting too cuddly can suppress independent thought and opposing ideas.

Walk alongside the team, not out in front. We often hear the term “lead out front.”  The most successful leaders walk alongside team members providing encouragement, support, and a good role model to follow.

Motivate the team around a common set of values. If the team’s goals are value driven, even if the leader messes up, the group will be propelled forward by the shared values.

Sweat it out with the team. If the company is sponsoring a charity run, be the first one to arrive and pass out the water bottles.

Be humble. If you have just closed the sale of the year, avoid gloating.  Instead share your process for closing the sale and brainstorm with your team on how you could have been more effective at overcoming an obstacle you faced during negotiations.

Do not be afraid to ask for advice or take direction. If you are making a presentation at a conference, collaborate with your team to identify “best practices” to share and what they consider the most important talking points. Show them your vulnerability and be the student by valuing their contributions, which builds trust and credibility.

Empathy, empathy, and more empathy. Your top advisor is falling behind for the second month in a row.  Can the motivation speech.  Empathize and engage in a meaningful discussion about how the economy is creating challenges for other advisors.

Empower others to be part of the solution.  Encourage advisors to develop some creative solutions to help other team members who are challenged by the tough economy.

Make thinking transparent: Post you mind map of sales goals through the end of the year on you door.  If everyone understands the thinking behind the process, it is easier to reach goals.

Get your hands dirty: Go out into the community and try out the new sales strategy.  Be the first to report with failures and ask for suggestions on how to improve the new sales approach.

And go ahead and lead by example. Spearhead strategies and behaviors that you want your team to incorporate showing that you are a believer.

Taken together, these steps can engender loyalty and respect in a leader. Walking alongside and collaborating with your team members about what is needed, provokes a ‘we’ attitude.  Show you trust them, share areas for improvement, applaud successes, and display your confidence in them. These components foster a sense of commitment, making it harder for individuals to abandon their managers and sales goals.


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Employee Engagement Strategies

“I can’t tell if you are agreeing with me or mocking me.” Dilbert’s boss.

“That’s sort of a gray area.” Dilbert

Needless to say, Dilbert is not an engaged employee. His pointy headed boss has failed to win his respect. Earning loyalty is a critical component of employee engagement but too often we fail at it. The success factors of employee engagement have been heavily researched, and here is what we know.

Develop meaningful relationships. Managers can build loyalty in employees by working alongside them and establishing meaningful communication. As the old saying goes, “Respect has to be earned. It cannot be commanded.”

Avoid cults of one. Employees who are loyal and connected to a team and company will perform at a higher level for the company. Employees who are overly engaged with a manager/mentor may compromise the higher good to please the leader.

Create a common vision. All employees should be motivated around a common vision that is aligned with the organization’s goals.

Cultivate employee careers. A powerful sign of commitment to an employee is investing in his/her growth. Take time to chart a career path, give career advice and provide training.

Visible empowerment. Employees should be able to see their contributions, evaluate their effectiveness and make decisions about next steps.

Individuality matters. Know your employee’s talents and make use of them effectively within the team.  Your employees will work more effectively when they are engaged in tasks that they excel at.

Return on investment . Employees are more motivated to perform when their achievements are acknowledge and appreciated.

The onus is on you. Managers have the most influence on the extent to which employees are engaged. Not only do they serve as supervision, but also as leadership and a source of guidance.

It’s a virtuous circle. The manager’s confidence in his own abilities influences his ability to engage employees, and bestows confidence in employees to use him/her as a resource.

The devil is in the details: Dilbert’s pointy headed boss had it right – the details matter. Organizational procedures influence employee engagement. If guidelines and protocols are unclear and inconsistent, employees will quickly lose confidence.

The link between motivation and rewards is well recognized today. Reward programs have proven to be very successful at attracting initial employee engagement in a program. A carrot can draw employees to the program but only a real engagement strategy will keep them there