The Elements Ironstone Blog

Current news and trending topics for sales and financial industry professionals


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Creating An Ocean-View Culture – Is It For You?

iStock_000009568716MediumInterested in boosting employee productivity, engagement and loyalty? If you haven’t entertained the idea of creating a culture with an office desk on the beach, it is time to rethink the possibilities and go outside of the box. Employers are reluctant to entertain the idea of remote workplaces despite the benefits. Remote, virtual or telecommuting office culture is becoming more and more common as employees thrive and excel in their “beach setting” environment.

As a proponent of remote workplace alternatives, I have found from personal experience the benefits out way any disadvantages. Extending from coast-to-coast across the United States, the culture cultivated by our team provides:

  • Increased productivity
  • Increased creativity
  • Empowerment for employees
  • Increased loyalty

The virtual culture works for us by providing efficient time management and innovative ways to stay connected. Skype is a tool we use extensively.

Is A Remote Culture Right For You?

Granted, some professions require onsite presence. Firms now, however, have the opportunity to take a more flexible look at the standard office environment; allowing employees to use technology enabling them to connect and collaborate from anywhere.

Small changes can produce significant benefits simply by empowering employees to gain more control over their schedule. Studies have shown that telecommuters increase productivity by eliminating the worry of driving to work, cutting gas expenses and removing office politics. Firms who engage in creating a virtual culture reduce business costs on overhead, reduced sick leave and less turnover.

Research conducted at Stanford with a Chinese company reveals working from home is actually more productive than working in the office, as well as other benefits in the form of increased job satisfaction and fewer people leaving.  The study revealed employees who worked from home reported higher job satisfaction and were 50% less likely to leave than their colleagues who worked in the office.

Another study compiled information from Kate Lister, author of Undress For Success—The Naked Truth About Making Money at Home (Wiley 2009) and the whitepaper, Results-based Management: The Key to Unlocking Talent and Increasing Productivity. This research revealed virtual workers are more productive and happier than traditional workers.

Virtual Employees:

  • Best Buy, British Telecom and Dow Chemical found that virtual workers are 36% – 41% more productive.
  • The work-from-home nature of virtual work reduces absenteeism by $1,134 per employee, every year.
  • 79% of traditional workers would prefer to work from home and 61% would take a pay cut to be able to do so.
  • Virtual workers get an extra 2-3 work-weeks of free time in commuting savings and report they use this time to spend with family, friends and for leisure.

Traditional Employees:

  • Gallup found that 54% of traditional U.S. workers sleep walk through their day.
  • An additional 18% are “actively disengaged” (meaning they actively undermine what an engaged worker accomplishes). Together, these groups make up a shocking 72% of the traditional workforce.
  • Another poll found that 1 in 3 high-potential traditional employees do not put full effort into their job.

Times have changed, and with that, firms need to stay abreast of the options and benefits available to them. Leaders should face the importance of an employee’s autonomy and the increased results of productivity and fulfillment by incorporating or exploring a remote culture.  Lifestyle will often trump salary in an employee’s decision making process. Firms who embrace a remote culture can gain an edge in recruiting highly-skilled employees.

 Question:  Does your firm engage in a virtual employee culture?  If so, what advantages and disadvantages are you finding? You can leave us a comment by clicking here!

• 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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Put Time On Your Side, Not Your Back!

Time management has become a topic of concern for many of the advisory firms that Ironstone works with. How do we control the amount of time we spend each day on needed and unneeded tasks while the world around us continually adds new means of technology, greater resources for us to utilize, and an endless supply of emails, tweets, blogs and messages?

In our last Time Management Blog, “ Learn Common Mistakes You & Your Team May Be Making In Time Management,”      https://aeschlapia.wordpress.com/2012/02/28/learn-common-mistakes-you-your-team-may-be-making-in-time-management-7/ we touched on the wasted efforts of multi-tasking. It still holds true today, that we must redirect our focus into single-tasking. If you are a multi-tasker, you will need to develop your own personal plan to switch from doing useless tasks (often involved in multi-tasking) to executing a strategy that ensures you remain single focused.

Ways You Can Change Improve Your Time Management Skills
List Three Top Priorities: Review your task list for the week. Choose three top priority tasks for each workday. This will allow you to hone in on the tasks that are priority items rather than randomly performing secondary tasks.

Scheduling: Block out fifteen minutes each day for planning. During this time, choose your top three priority items so that you can focus on those items at the beginning of each day. Schedule certain times every day for things like emails, phone calls, meetings, etc. Do not allow a fluctuation in this designated time.

Identify your time-wasters: Track what you do on a daily basis for several days. This will allow you to find where you are losing time. Time is valuable, we just need to know how to control and separate what is important at any given moment. By identifying your time-wasters, you can get rid of them.

Change your habits: Make a dedicated promise to yourself to change those things that are your biggest time-wasters. Write out your plan and follow it. Review it briefly each day to see how you did and what areas you can improve on.
Have good reasons to save time and reward yourself: If you make changes to improve your time management, reward yourself. Your reward will motivate you to make changes.

Get Rid Of Interruptions: If interruptions are a big waste of time in your day, find ways to get rid of them. Turn electronics off, disconnect from the internet or try closing your email. (*Tip: add a disclosure on your email indicating how often you check and respond to email.) You will be surprised at how quickly others respect your response. You can live without these interruptions and will be amazed at how much more efficient and productive you become.

Know your key times: Identify specific times of the day when you have the most energy. Align your priority tasks with those times.

Batch Your “To Do List”: We love this idea at Ironstone! Maintaining your to-do list and scheduling specific, allotted time during the day, will help you keep the list manageable and reduce stress. During the allotted time, complete as many of those tasks as possible.

Technology can be used to your advantage in saving time, but make an effort to beat technology time-wasters. If a lot of your time is spent online, surfing websites for the latest content and news, take advantage of having that information pushed directly to you by using RSS or “Really Simple Syndication.”

  • RSS is a great tool that you can use to aggregate news into one convenient location. Ironstone recommends setting up your own personalized page on My MSN, My Yahoo, Google or any of your other favorites.  On a regular basis, your RSS reader will automatically check your selected websites and will deliver the content to you in one convenient display. Watch the RSS video at http://www.efficient-advisor.com/tools-tips to learn how to set up an RSS reader.

Relocate: If you are receiving walk-in interruptions, phone calls, instant messages or even need to rejuvenate your energy levels, consider relocating to a place that will lift your mood and where you can be completely free of interruptions. A conference room, a library, a home office, etc., can aide you in completing tasks on-time in a fresh environment.

Taking Time To Make Time

Take control of your time management – the advantages will drastically improve the quality of your everyday life. When you feel that everything has to be done at once, levels of frustration increase. Don’t forget to celebrate! Time management is not an easy task. If it were, there would not be a significant amount of self help, customized training, checklists, and performance reviews regarding the subject. You owe it to yourself to pat yourself on the back if no one else does. Consider your new management skills a victory and own them! After all, you succeeded!

Take time and reap the benefits of time management.

Ironstone can assist you in improving the time management skills of you and your team.  Check out our Time Management Tool!– (TimeManagementTool)  We specialize in identifying problem areas and then implementing the strategies needed to align with the goals of your firm. Firms with time management programs in place have lower stress levels, peace of mind, a higher sense of achievement, increased energy and productivity and a healthy cultural work environment.

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: The Human Element-Culture
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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Learn How To Make Employee Incentive Plans Effective

Employee Incentive Plans have become significant components in firms looking to stay competitive and on track with the pace of changes evolving in the workforce. 

As humans, we have ups and downs; times when we can focus and times where we tend to lose focus.  As a good manager, guiding your employees to work on what is most important and in the most efficient manner, an employee incentive plan can be an asset in your toolbox.

Consistent and methodical communication is necessary when implementing an incentive plan. It will ensure employees understand what is expected of them while decreasing the likelihood of morale problems that result from misinterpretations of how incentives are awarded.

At Ironstone, we have found that many employee incentive plans don’t reap their intended results.  Making simple changes in your incentive plan will reward your employees and ultimately your firm.

Understand The Lifestyle & Culture Of Your Firm

When designing your incentive program, understand the unique lifestyles and demographic make-up of your staff.  It is important to understand your firm’s culture so that you can tailor your program and rewards accordingly.

Conduct a survey with your team-Find out what motivates them.   Remember, CASH isn’t always the #1 motivator.  Provide your employees with choices, including enough options so that something appeals to everyone. For example: gym memberships, virtual days, etc…

Keep It Simple-Employee incentive plans should be quick and easy to administer.

Recognition is An Important Component of Any Program-Provide acknowledgment, approval, and gratitude in your incentive program.  When employees realize that their contributions are important they are more likely to embrace the goals and objective of the firm.

Develop A Clear Set of Goals & Objectives-Goals should be realistic, achievable, and sincere.  This is the key to building credibility for your program. The best plans encourage the behaviors that create successful results.

 Four Critical Elements To Include In Your Incentive Program

1. The desired activity/goal

2. The tactical plan- how employees will work towards achieving the goal

3. The time allotted to achieve the performance level

4. The reward for achieving the goal

 

Employee Incentive Plans Are Not Just For The Employee.  Your firm will benefit with increased motivation, increased company morale, increased loyalty, and increased productivity. Implementing employee incentive plans have shown to be effective by resolving organizational problems because they align the preference of firms and employees.

Ironstone will help you implement a successful employee incentive program, identify gaps in your existing plan, and collaborate with you to develop a solution to achieve the results you are looking for.  We will work with you on creating detailed goals that drive results.

Contact us for assistance in starting and improving your employee incentive plan.

We want to hear from you!    What employee incentives does your firm offer? Share your best ideas here!  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:  Business Development-Prospecting


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What Exactly Is Leadership?

What Exactly Is Leadership?

The purpose of this component in Ironstone’s Fundamental 4™ (The Human Element), is the development of individual and team efficiency and effectiveness for the benefit of the business.  The evolution of this fundamental revolves around organizational skills, management of teams, refined roles and responsibilities, and accountability for performance.  This opens the lines of communication throughout a team to create a positive culture.  “Everyone is on the same page” is very simple to understand but in reality, there are many directions and agendas driven by egos, greed, and lack of leadership.  Leaders don’t merely take charge.  They make the tough decisions while motivating and empowering others to succeed.

Are you an effective leader and do you really know what makes a great leader?

It has been said that on average, we influence 250 people in our lifetime.  You can increase that by becoming an effective leader and in turn helping your team members develop good leadership qualities.  An empowered work force will have ownership and in turn, productivity levels will increase.

Qualities of a good leader:

  • Motivates by using the team’s common set of values
  • Empowers others to be part of the solution
  • Has confidence in individuals to achieve
  • Understands the audience: i.e. gender, personal interests, generation dynamics, work priorities, etc…
  • Inspires confidence in the future
  • Help you through a particular difficult time and displays empathy
  • Ethical, honest, and trustworthy
  • Humble
  • Strives for excellence and inspires you to do the same

 Actions of a good leader:

  • Makes the firm direction and goals transparent for everyone to be on the same page
  • Executes programs to develop leadership and communication skills
  • Encourages focus by outlining common purpose and providing accountability
  • Provides training and coaching to enhance expertise
  • Leads by example and serves as a positive role model
  • Delegates to talent and skill
  • Provides a platform for input and ideas to affect advancement and improve strategies
  • Asks for advice or takes direction from your team
  • Walks alongside the team, not out in front
  • Sweats it out with the team

 Go beyond the management level and promote yourself to a leadership role.

                 Think of the end before the beginning. ~Leonardo da Vinci

We want to hear from you!  What strategies are you using to empower your team?

Contact us for assistance in building an effective leadership development program.

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-Succession Planning, Begin With The End In Mind