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Current news and trending topics for sales and financial industry professionals


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Just Another Meeting or a Meeting of the Minds?

Learning how to turn your staff meeting into a meeting that produces results and develops team bonding can be simple and fun.  First identify  your objective.  Create an effective staff meeting in which your team can:

  • Develop strategies
  • Create operating processes
  • Openly share thoughts and ideas
  • Implement plans to achieve objectives

An effective team meeting should produce results.  Make certain each meeting you have is well thought out in advance.  After the meeting,  review thoroughly  to recognize and record the results  produced.

Team meetings are critical to the execution of projects.  

If proper management is not implemented, the meeting can  produce unfavorable results.

Have An Agenda – Create an outline and leave space to record  notes.  Use a consistent format for each meeting.

Listen To Your TeamEncourage employees to share their thoughts, insights and ideas.

Allow Team Member Interaction – Just as you encourage employees to share their thoughts and insights, encourage employees to interact with one another.  Make sure  team members are engaging in effective interpersonal communication with other team members.

Be Time Sensitive – Start and adjourn each meeting on time.  The facilitator of the meeting must make sure  discussions do not veer from the topic.  When this happens, step in and redirect the discussion.

Identify Action Plan – List the critical strategies you have developed;  operating processes and  procedures that will be applied to achieve your objectives.  This will ensure  your employees can see at a glance what is expected of them.

Establish TimelinesDiscuss deadlines during the meeting.  Each team member will then know the  amount of time they have to complete a project.

Follow Up Notes – Assign someone to take notes.  Notes should be documented during and after the meeting while they are still fresh in mind and distributed to each team member.

In case you missed our blog, “When Was The Last Time You Attended A Productive Meeting,” https://aeschlapia.wordpress.com/2012/03/13/when-was-the-last-time-you-attended-a-productive-meeting/ we included resources to help you through the process of holding regular staff meetings.   Sample Team Meeting Agenda

Because effective team meetings require more than preparing an agenda, Ironstone has designed a workshop that covers the what, the why and how to produce results through your team meetings.  In this workshop you will learn how to define and create an action plan for each of your team meetings.

As humans, we have interactive processes that change and develop incessantly.  Well planned team meetings will put your firm on the path to building and developing strong relationships with one another, nourish a healthy work culture and create new interactive processes.  Be sure to follow an established operating procedure to ensure consistency for your team meetings.

Contact us for more information about our Team Meeting Workshop!   We will help you dig beneath the surface to ensure  your staff meetings are productive and effective.   We want to hear from you!   Share your best team meeting idea with us!

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: Human Element-Organizational Skills

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

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Create A Powerful Asset With An Advisory Board

You don’t need to tread in unfamiliar waters alone. Building an advisory board for your firm will create a powerful asset that will provide advice and objective feedback elevating the level of service you provide and improving the current client experience.

Advisory boards have no fiduciary responsibility. Their advice is non-binding. Your advisory board should provide you with great feedback and will naturally become a powerful referral engine as they gain a vested interest in the success of the firm.

Eight Steps To Creating Your Advisory Board

Determine The Objective – Your advisory board will help you look at your firm with an open mind. Objectives should include; insight to product and business development, marketing and technology, and research that encompasses emerging industry trends.

Define Your Advisory Board Member Profiles – Choose clients that will become evangelists for your firm while mentoring you as an advisor. When forming your board identify clients that can provide you with diverse skills, experience and knowledge. The ideal members of your board will be open minded, thought-provoking, problem solvers and have strong communication skills.

Establish Expectations – Make sure you have clear objectives so that board members know what is expected of them. You should be specific in communicating responsibilities, the areas in which you are seeking help, and how often you will want to interact. If private information will be discussed inform advisory members that they will be signing a confidentiality agreement. You may want to consider having board term limits so that when changes are needed, board members and clients are not offended.

Develop Board Relationships – Ask your board members for their opinions and advice, and establish a mentor/sounding board relationship with them. Express your appreciation frequently and don’t be offended if you hear something you don’t like, your advisory board must be open and honest.

Prepare For Board Meetings – Advanced preparations may include: soliciting agenda items from the board (to prevent unplanned discussions) and distributing important information prior to the meeting along with your meeting agenda. Host your meeting in a location that is free of distractions and stay on track by stimulating dialogue and having a results oriented gathering. Summarize minutes and include recommendations on key issues.

Compensation – Most board members are eager to serve and help firms and will usually not expect or inquire about compensation. Consider making a donation to their favorite charity in their honor. Make sure you comply with FINRA regulations.

Keep Board Members Informed – Keep your board members excited about your business by providing them with updates at times when you aren’t asking for their advice. The fact that they’ve agreed to be on your board means they care about your firm. Keeping them up-to-date will enhance their commitment to your practice and in turn, help them be of greater value to you.

Celebrate– Find ways to celebrate your board members affiliation with you. Create an e-mail list for high-level communication or incorporate your advisory board into your website.

Advisory Board Members can help you see what you are not seeing yourself.

Embrace the insight they offer and remove the personal barriers and

roadblocks that may be preventing you from experiencing positive change.

Ironstone can assist you in developing an Advisory Board Plan. We specialize in identifying gaps in your existing plan and will collaborate with you to develop solutions that are parallel in achieving the results your desire.

We want to hear from you!  Does your firm have an advisory board and if so, how are they working for you? 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: Operational Effectiveness-Client Database
• 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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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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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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How To Define Your Business Model And Set The Objectives That Will Bring It To Life

How To Define Your Business Model And Set The Objectives That Will Bring It To Life

Follow us as we explore the first of Ironstone’s Fundamental 4™ – Strategic Planning:  The main objective in this fundamental is to create an uncomplicated plan that clearly defines the direction of the practice.  Primary focus areas include business and succession planning, creating organizational structure, and collaboration amongst the management team.  It is crucial for management to develop realistic goals and objectives creating the framework for team member focus.  Even more crucial is management’s ability to communicate these goals so that the common focus permeates throughout the team.  Plans and models that are stored on a computer are seldom implemented and likely to be forgotten.

What type of business model are you following?   Solo, Silo, or Ensemble?

Strong ownership mentality helps drive success and creates focus to leverage services offered.

  • A Solo Firm has a single professional advisor position, typically the firm owner.
  • A Silo Firm is a producer group in which multiple advisors collectively share overhead and expenses but remain independent and have separate client bases
  • An Ensemble Firm is a multiple advisor firm that operates as one firm, with advisors generally paid on a defined compensation model.

Are you following the right business model for your firm and what is the difference between a business model and a business plan?

  • A Business Model ascertains how your business makes money.   It will identify the services that your clients find valuable.  The business model will focus on the largest income generator for your firm.  
  • A Business Plan embodies your set of business goals and how they can be attained.

Overall, the business model explains the flow of money within the company and the business plan outlines the structure needed to obtain that flow of money.  A business plan supports the business model and explains the steps to achieve the goals of that model.  If you change the business model, you will also need to change the business plan.

There is not a one-size-fits-all solution for every firm.  Ironstone works with highly successful firms operating with different business models.  You can make your business model decision after considering your goals and objectives.

Contact us for help in preparing your Business Model.  Use this guide to help you get started on setting the goals and objectives that will serve as the foundation of your Business Model.

 

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 post in the series:  Business Development – Niche Marketing