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Current news and trending topics for sales and financial industry professionals


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SWOT Yourself! How I Saved Hours Every Day & You Can Too

fly swatter“Boss man, I just don’t have enough time to get everything done!” How often are you hearing this from your rock-star team? This time of year we should be feeling a sense of renewal and experiencing a fresh start! Often times, the opposite occurs as we are inundated with year-end reports, implementing new strategies and keeping up with daily business.

Embedded in my mind are the weekends as a youngster. Every Saturday, like clock-work, my mom and I had “chores” to do inside the beautiful farmhouse where I grew up. She always told me, “We have to finish our work first and then we get to go have fun.” Why that is stuck in my mind 30 years later, I have no idea. What I do know is she knew how to manage time.

We have all read hundreds of articles on time management tips, taken time management courses and received multitudes of advice. All of these workshops, articles and advice have provided me exceptional tools as well as vital components to effective time management. Time Management models will vary for each person on your team but the goal will be the same – Effective Time Management. I have found the best way to keep myself on track is through the development and use of a “model day” format where I create blocks of time from my job description.  I have taken my so-called short fallings from last year and incorporated time for interruptions, time for NO interruptions and time for unplanned urgencies. Start your new year with these simple steps, perform them yourself and then share with your team.

SWOT Yourself!  

Most of us have participated in SWOT analysis projects, but usually related to our overall business plan.  Have any of you or your team members performed a personal SWOT analysis? You can incorporate an individual SWOT analysis into your overall business plan; link them to personal team development, tracking goals and performance reviews. Once you have completed your analysis, incorporate your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats into a list of tasks to complete with an action plan and make it happen!.  

Download Ironstone’s SWOT Analysis Template Here

Create Your Time Management Plan

Having a snapshot of how you intend to perform your day is essential to effective time management.  Time and time again I end up with “to-do” lists scattered everywhere, 10 post-it notes stuck on my desk serving the purpose of reminding me what needs to be done. Rather than giving me a sense of organization, I am bogged done with stress, anxiety and a sick feeling in my stomach caused by ineffective time management.

We have created a model day template to assist you to:

  • Manage time effectively
  • Improve organization skills
  • Boost time management skills

Ironstone’s template allows you to organize, track and monitor progress by providing 4 tabs within one worksheet.

  • My Model Day Your model day is your intended plan for completing job duties. Use this as a guide to manage your time each and every day.
  • Time ManagementUse the time management worksheet to gain understanding of how much time is spent on projects scheduled in your model day plan. You don’t need to do this on a daily basis; a periodic check will give you insight on how much time you are using wisely, wasting or necessary adjustments needed to improve time management.
  • Priority ItemsAt the end of each day, allow yourself time to organize and prioritize the most important tasks you want to accomplish the following day. This will allow you to start each day feeling energized, empowered and organized. Keep your priority items to 5 or 6 tasks depending on the amount of time you anticipate will be needed for each.
  • Other projects I like using the “other projects” worksheet to record my never ending list of things to be done. Having this worksheet incorporated into my time management plan allows me to keep my “to-do list” in one location and transfer projects easily to my priority worksheet as others are completed.

 Download the Ironstone Model Day Worksheet  HereTip- add a worksheet to the template with a monthly calendar.

Question: What challenges do you face in your office with time management?  You can leave a comment by clicking here.    

Additional Time Management Resources;

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


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Do You & Your Staff Hold The Key To Organizational Skills?

Do You & Your Staff Hold The Key To Organizational Skills?

It seems so simple that organizational skills and their importance often get overlooked as a necessary quality of good leadership.

Effective management of organizational details lie in the art of being able to see how everything works together to complete a project.  Hone these skills to create a razor sharp team.

“For entrepreneurs, ignorance is not bliss. It’s fatal. It’s costly. And it’s for losers. You either get organized, or get crushed.” – Donald J. Trump

Increasing productivity and remaining relatively stress free requires three BASIC organization skills

  • Prioritize – Make a list of everything that needs to be done on a daily basis.  Once you have created your list, put them in order of importance.  Finally, estimate how much time it will take you to complete each item.  The difficulty sets in when assessing a “time-value” to each item, as it is human nature to underestimate the time it takes us to complete a task or project.
  • Manage Your Time – While you are assessing “time-values” to your tasks and projects, identify other things that are wasting your time.  What can you do to change or eliminate time wasters?   Some things may be out of your control, like interruptions from a co-worker or boss, however much of it is in your control if you are able to distinguish the urgent versus the important.
  • Eliminate Clutter – It takes time to eliminate clutter, but will save you time in the end.  Eliminating clutter will improve your productivity by clearing your mind and surroundings, which in turn will lower stress levels.  By keeping your things sorted you will be able to find what you are looking for quickly and easily.

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.

Use our Personal Management Matrix to organize & Execute around your priorities.

PersonalManagementMatrix

We want to hear from you!  What tools do you use at your firm to improve time management?

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-Compensation

 


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Learn Common Mistakes You & Your Team May Be Making In Time Management

Learn Common Mistakes You & Your Team May Be Making In Time Management

You are a fantastic multi-tasker!   What used to be a benefit is now in the top 10 of common time management mistakes!

We listed it in our New Years Resolutions NOT to make- ”Do Not promise to multi-task”.  To view our newsletter:   http://eepurl.com/ilLek

Have you hired a new employee because they are great multi-tasker? Are you praising your office manager who is always busy doing five projects at once?  The results of multitasking are documents and projects full of errors.  Survey’s are showing that there is a sixty to eighty percent reduction in productivity levels and a lack of concentration when employees try to multi-task.

What other areas are eating away at your day without you even realizing it?  Like many others, you have probably considered these to be assets to productivity, but in reality they are draining your employee and wasting time.  Do you value the employee who:

  • Has time to take on every project
  • Thrives on busy
  • “Never-takes-breaks”
  • Can never say “no”
  • Micro-manages
  • Gets a rush when they are busy or when the team is on overload

All of the above listed so-called qualities will lead to lower performance levels, lower team morale and stress in the firm.  They are merely misleading you to believe that effective people are busy.  The reality is that this busy addiction rarely means that you are effective and again leading to more stress in your firm.

Consider each of these so called assets in your employee a waste of time!  Train yourself, your managers, and your team to re-evaluate their time management systems.  Have everyone in the firm take a personal time-management quiz, and learn to slow down, focus, and provide quality instead of quantity.

 Other areas that you will want to evaluate:

·         How You Manage Distraction – employees can lose up to 2 hours a day from distractions

·         Procrastination – if a task seems too big, dedicate a small time each day towards the task and complete the task over time.

·         Scheduling Tasks – schedule low-energy work (like checking your email, returning calls, etc.) to the time of day when your energy level is at its’ lowest

·         Goal Setting

·         To-Do Lists

Time management really boils down to knowing how you can schedule your time effectively.  Know what your daily priorities are and know your goals.  By being aware of priorities and goals you will be able to create a schedule that is beneficial for you and your firm.  The next quality to teach your current employees or to look for in a new hire is……time management skills.

 

Ironstone has several aides available for your firm in developing healthy, productive time management skills.  Download our Time Management Survey Here!   TimeManagement

 

We want to hear from you!  What strategies are you using to improve your time-management skills?

 

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 In Your Workplace: What Culture Are You Cultivating At Your Firm?  Healthy or Toxic?

 



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Learn How To Create A Unique Value Proposition For Your Firm

Learn How To Create A Unique Value Proposition For Your Firm. 

Do you have a defined clear answer that inspires questions?  If you can describe to someone in a sentence or two what your business does and why it is valuable, you probably have a strong unique value proposition. 

Branding and Value Propositions create a distinct fingerprint that sets your practice apart.  Ensure your firms brand uniqueness while effectively meeting client needs and creating the value promised.  You need to think about the value you offer to clients by determining;

What are their needs and how will you satisfy those needs?

Position yourself as someone who understands where your clients and prospects are coming from, where they are going, and what they need along the journey to reach their destination.  Some examples:

  • Ease nervousness during market volatility
  • Relieve their major concerns about retirement
  • Ensure their legacy will live on for the next generation

A value proposition cannot be a vague description of the products and services that you offer.  YOU need to tell them the results they will get from you.

To help you- here are a few guidelines to follow while creating your value proposition

  • Create Interest
  • Differentiate yourself from your competitors (You will not be able to accomplish this based on products alone.)
  • Focus on your client’s point of view

Keep in mind that your value proposition should identify solutions to meet the needs that your clients are facing.

How does your brand fit in with your value proposition?  If your brand position is successful, overtime, your brand logo will symbolize your value. 

Many firms do not convey their message in a clear and concise manner.  Ironstone will help you make sure you are not in that situation.  

We want to hear from you!  What is YOUR unique value proposition?

 

 

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-Time Management

 

 

 


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How To Increase Your Effectiveness

How To Increase Your Effectiveness

Ironstone believes that one of the best methods for operational effectiveness is to define your standard operating procedures for your practice and create multiple tracking and reporting systems that measure your results.  You should create reports and checklists by observing your current projects and processes, including the sequence of each.

For example, a powerful client engagement process consists of the design and creation of Financial Advisor service teams, client segmentation, service matrices and new/existing client workflow systems.  The fusion of these elements increases the efficiency of managing the workload while increasing the level of the client experience.

It’s imperative that each project and/or process that you are using in your firm has a Standard Operating Procedure (SOP).   The goal is to be efficient and effective.   The SOP should include:

  • The name and description of the current project/process
  • Define the sequence of events from the start to the completion of the project
  • Outline the implementation steps to complete the project
  • Create checklists or use supplemental information to aid in the management of the project
  • Determine the key metrics to be measured and how
  • Set a schedule of regular communication regarding team progress
  • Periodically review the processes to determine if any changes or updates are necessary

At Ironstone we find that the best way to start is to observe your current projects and process (or lack thereof) by taking detailed notes and surveys of day-to-day activity.   Make your list of what processes are in place or need to be in place and then create the standard operating procedures for each.

There are many areas within your personal and professional life where you can put this into practice.  Some of these include (but are not limited to) time management, methods for prioritizing, balancing life and work goals, staff meetings, marketing plans, client appreciation/retention, demographic analysis, and database management… just to name a few.

We know, it sounds like a lot of work, right?   You can’t have a full understanding of your business without tracking results along with measuring and analyzing internal processes.

Let us know how you create and manage your Standard Operating Procedures, your best practices, and what areas of assistance you need in developing effective operating procedures.

Contact us for assistance in starting and improving your internal reports and tracking systems.  You will also want to download our Reports & Tracking Checklist!   2.14.12Reports&Tracking

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-Leadership