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Building Your Ark– How To Ensure Your Strategic Planning Meeting Stays Afloat

Noahs-Ark-Cartoon-600x450

While we know that Noah’s Ark wasn’t built in day, we are told Noah had 120 years to plan and strategize before the “flood” to construct an ark. It would be nice to have 120 years to build our strategic plan and to know what obstacles and challenges we will face, but we know the reality of the ever evolving financial world.

I know many financial advisors hold bi-annual or annual strategic planning sessions and year after year follow the same boring format without a true understanding of what strategic planning should be.

As many of you are reviewing year end reports and developing strategies for the new year, implement effective strategic planning sessions throughout the year to achieve the goals you envision for years ahead.

While I believe it is a healthy practice to schedule group strategic sessions, I do believe that firms are failing to carry out the strategies and tactical implementation processes discussed during these meetings. Strategic planning should be evaluated throughout the year by measuring results to identify successes, uncovering gaps in a plan and hunting for improvement opportunities on a regular schedule.

What Is Strategic Planning

Strategic Planning should strive to answer fundamental questions:

  • Where do we want to be one year from now, five years from now, ten years from now?
  • Who is our ideal client?
  • What are our major goals?
  • What is our vision?
  • What is our mission?

Your strategic planning meeting will entail forward thinking to visualize where you see your firm in the future. Review and create modifications to your vision statement in alignment with the goals of your firm five or ten years from today.

Creativity and brainstorming are essential to the quality and outcome of your meeting. Each team member should feel free to share new ideas without criticism but through inspiration. A true leader will inspire and enlighten team members to engage in discussion while feeling a sense of contribution to the overall success of the firm. When your team truly believes in the vision of the firm and contributes valuable ideas that are recognized, you will increase employee engagement, productivity and cultivate a positive culture in your firm.

Incorporate Tactical Plans Into Daily Operations

Once the strategic planning session has ended, dissect your plan by incorporating sub-headings or smaller tactical plans into your daily operations by:

  • Assign specific actions to team members
  • Create or update SOPs
  • Design a time-line or flow-chart for each strategy including specific tactical steps to ensure the goal is measurable and attainable
  • Schedule mini-meetings to measure results of a specific task
  • Share progress and results with the entire team through weekly meetings or by creating a visual blueprint in your conference room

Reviewing Your Strategic Plan

By incorporating your strategic plan into your daily operations, you will have accomplished a major milestone that many firms fall short. However, to be effective and achieve results, your strategic plan needs a time-line or flow-chart of its own. Group collaboration will be effective once or twice a year, but only if the strategic plan is tested and measured year round. Review key fundamentals in your strategic plan by:

  • Assign team members to each key issue in your strategy plan
  • Create time-lines and flow-charts for each fundamental, including review, research and testing times, success measurement and gap identification
  • Apply problem-solving techniques and offer pliable solutions
  • Identify new trends
  • Prepare detailed reports reflecting your findings

When team members become involved in the fundamental goals of the firm, productivity, engagement, employee retention, accountability and professionalism increase. Often, the team is excluded from strategic planning year round, leaving them with an overwhelmed and confused feeling after a long strategic session. Team involvement to reach vital goals year round will result in highly efficient and successful strategic planning sessions.

Following the guidelines above will ensure your “ark” is able to withstand the flood rather than sink.

Read more about Staff Meetings:

Just Another Meeting or A Meeting Of The Minds?

When Was The Last Time You Attended A Productive Meeting?

Ironstone’s Vision is to forge and guide the personal and professional lives of entrepreneurs and business professionals alike to realize their full potential. Coaching and consulting allows us the opportunity to form an environment where success happens and goals are reached.

Read more about our coaching and consulting program here >>

Start your transformation with Ironstone as your Partner for Performance

Contact Ironstone with your questions & let’s get started! 

Have a question or comment for Ironstone? Contact us!>>

Share your strategic planning session successes or disasters!

 

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

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The “Bully” Cost To Your Bottom Line

I overheard the following between an Office Manager and an employee, “You have ruined my summer by being pregnant.” Yes, it is true! You can image how the employee felt after hearing that not to mention the rest of the staff walking on egg-shells. Not only was the statement bullying it was discrimination.

You may believe you would never tolerate or allow such behavior to occur in your office or would take immediate action to remove such a person from their position and duties; however there is a general lack of awareness of the behaviors bullying encompasses. This gap makes it difficult to detect along with the fact bullying is typically hidden from the “Chief”, therefore, you may not be aware it is happening at all.

What is bullying?

  • Intimidating or humiliating insults and criticism
  • Gossip and rumors
  • Being ignored, undermined or excluded
  • Behaviors or language that frightens or degrades

Bullying can come in many forms; verbal, emails, written messages, body language, formal documents, text messages etc. Bullying can also take place through office operations. As a manager, if you are assigning duties above or below an employee’s ability, changing to cause chaos and inconvenience, not providing proper resources to complete a job, you are bullying.

A study by the Workplace Bullying Institute,  revealed 35% of workers in the United States have been bullied at the office. The percentage inflates to 50% when witnesses are included. With a tight job market many who are bullied put up with it, but at a cost to both them and the employer.

Reasons We Allow Bullying

Without a solid case, it is hard to convince the head honcho that his Office Manager is a bully. Often, denial is the cause.  If you are being bullied, document everything and go straight to the decision maker.  It is hard to believe that a business owner would justify or allow workplace bullying but perhaps after reading this article, they will see the light. There still are those that can’t let go of the bully through justification:

  • That’s just how they are, they didn’t mean any harm
  • He/She is under so much stress
  • I can’t run this office without them

Promoting a productive, socially responsible and healthy work environment should be standard procedure. Oftentimes business owners and managers don’t put the pieces together until it is too late.

The bully cost to your bottom line

Putting an end to office bullying is of vital importance to minimize costs, maintain efficient office operation, office culture and employee retention. It can cost a company thousands of dollars to replace a new employee or employees who left because of bullying. The bully cost to your bottom line is:

  • Decreased job performance and productivity
  • Increased sick leave
  • Loss of key staff
  • Possible court costs
  • Loss of reputation
  • Cost of hiring and on-boarding new staff

Managers spend a lot of time finding incentives to keep key employees and ways to reduce operating costs.  Perhaps the answer is; Make sure you don’t have an office bully and if you do, take action.

Ironstone’s Vision is to forge and guide the personal and professional lives of entrepreneurs and business professionals alike to realize their full potential. Coaching and consulting allows us the opportunity to form an environment where success happens and goals are reached.

Read more about our coaching and consulting program here >>

Start your transformation with Ironstone as your Partner for Performance

Contact Ironstone with your questions & let’s get started! 

Have a question or comment for Ironstone? Contact us!>>

  

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


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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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Bring Home The Gold! Employ A Champion Team

Fans are raving over the five teenagers who were the first Americans to earn a gymnastics gold in 16 years.  Being referred to as the “Fab Five” or the “Fierce Five,” the team is being compared to the legendary team from 1996, the “Magnificent Seven.”

How does your team stack up in comparison to the “Fierce Five” or the “Magnificent Seven?”    Are you using outdated policies and procedures in your hiring process?  Get prepared and seize the opportunity to add to your talent pool and find your next superstar!

Building a champion team can be challenging;  however, if you examine the plethora of talent and personality and choose wisely, your team can be the best.  Hiring exceptional talent is critical to the overall success of your firm.  As an employer, you should always focus on bringing the best talent to your firm.

Ironstone has outlined some of the best practices in hiring, on-boarding and human capital retention.

When hiring, ask yourself and determine:

  • Will this person do the job?
  • Do they have the skills needed to perform the job?
  • How well will they fit in with existing team members and culture in the firm?

Be certain not to discount the weight you place on “fitting-in” with other team members and your firm’s culture.   All too often, advisors hire based on the look of a resume and skill set resulting in critical mistakes.  A prospective team member possessing “potential” will only add so much to the depth of your team and may not provide a positive and profitable impact.

“If you don’t know where you are going, then you probably won’t end up there.” ~Forrest Gump~

Don’t settle:

Focus on finding and retaining the best talent for your firm.  Top talent is in high demand; therefore, you should make it a priority to include your hiring strategies as a year-round business process.  In your hiring process include each of the following goals and develop your strategies and tactics for each:

  • Planning
  • Recruiting
  • Selection

 Identify & Keep Your Winning Team:

Utilizing your team and positioning team members with their unique ability will add to increased morale, productivity and profitability.  Consider reviewing current positions and how they are measuring up to the overall success of your firm and identify what skills and personality traits are needed to enhance the caliber of your team.

  • Map your ideal organizational flow chart
  • Identify gaps
  • Assess current positions and roles
  • Determine what is working/what isn’t working

Position Your Firm For Growth:

Don’t underestimate the competition in finding or stealing great employees.  Develop the fundamentals that are needed to attract and retain quality team members.

Consider incorporating the following fundamentals in your hiring plan:

  • Provide job stability.
  • Incorporate challenging work which will instill engaged employees.
  • Provide a culture for team members to grow, flourish and succeed.
  • Create a pay for performance reward system; linking employee performance to the firm’s goals.
  • Focus on developing your current team to be successful.  Provide resources and training that will aide them in reaching and exceeding goals.  Encourage career development.
  • Communicate the firm’s goals with team members.  Team members will have a higher morale and be engaged in their role.
  • Offer enhancements such as flex-time, telecommuting or other services that fit the personality of your team members. 

These enhancements can make a significant difference in employee satisfaction and retention without a mammoth investment.

Download these resources from Ironstone to get started on employing your champion team!

Employee Onboarding Checklist     Hiring Implementation Guide

Your team is a reflection of your business.  This reflection carries throughout the work day and most often in personal lives.  Perception of your team is reality.  Be certain  you have the quality team  your firm and clients deserve;  prepare your firm to employ and attract a gold medal team.

We are curious!!  What does your firm do to attract and retain a gold medal team?  What are your team members favorite fundamentals included in your hiring plan?

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 with strategic alliances!

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


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Is Your Compensation Plan Boring Your Employees?

It’s not surprising that one of the most frequently asked questions of advisor firms is how to attract and retain talented people and reward them effectively with a remarkable compensation plan. Compensation packages are one of the largest line items in a budget. Ironstone finds that many firms are struggling to stay abreast with changes and new trends in salary and compensation beliefs while experiencing confusion on how to properly control organizational costs and remain viable.

Today’s compensation trends are moving from a base salary package to plans that include:
• A measurement system for variable pay
• Less emphasis on increasing base pay
• Overall firm goal achievement
• Flexibility

By implementing a compensation plan that includes the directives listed above, both the employee and the firm benefit. Compensation plans that incorporate these strategies foster teamwork that focuses on the concrete goals of your firm.

In order for firms to stay competitive, you must frequently change your compensation program and have a plan in place to do so. Your imagination is your only limitation to retaining and motivating the kind of people who are catalysts for the success of your firm.

We recommend that your firm be pro-active in developing and refining your firm’s compensation plan. Recognize that “quality of work life” rewards and appreciation play a vital role in the value of your firm’s benefits package. Your firm can be pro-active and creative by adding an array of perks to the overall benefits package you offer. Consider the following:
• Recognize results with a one-time monetary payment
• Offer opportunity for flexible work arrangements
• Write thank you notes to acknowledge a team member’s “above and beyond” actions
• Present pre-paid legal, education, and insurance benefits
• Place an emphasis on training and development of your team
• Introduce employee wellness initiatives

Lastly, remove the dead-end sign. Your team needs to see a clear and concise view of the opportunities within the firm for growth. You can add a suite of perks to your compensation package, but without the chance for growth and development, your dazzling compensation package won’t work.
As you contemplate the strategic changes you want to make in your compensation plan, do not forget that your team can be your most valuable asset. It is in your best interest to focus on reducing stress at work and in your employee’s personal lives. Reward your team, without hesitation, if you hold a team of energetic, talented and growth oriented individuals.

Developing and offering a compensation plan to your employees with traditional and non-traditional elements is both egalitarian and accountable.  Download Ironstone’s Compensation Planning Checklist!  CompensationPlanningChecklist

Contact Ironstone for more information and additional strategies that will assist you in developing and strengthening your compensation plan.  You can find more information regarding compensation in our blog- “Human Capital Strategies.” https://aeschlapia.wordpress.com/2012/03/19/human-capital-strategies/

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-Marketing Plans

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