The Elements Ironstone Blog

Current news and trending topics for sales and financial industry professionals


Leave a comment

ENGAGEMENT: GET YOUR A$$ INTO GEAR!

As an extension of our Q2 newsletter, here is a deeper look into the factors that influence and shape engagement:

Infrastructure

As soon as your practice adds support staff, the question of structure rears its head. At first, with only one or two people assisting you, that may seem a rather silly concern. But add enough staff, or grow to the silo (multiple advisors sharing space and in many cases staff with different client bases) or ensemble (multiple advisors with shared staff working together) models, and suddenly it becomes a very real issue. Choosing the right structure is intimately related to the next issue—roles.

Roles

The hierarchical organizational structure that defined American business for so long is rapidly falling by the wayside. Today who does what, and who is responsible for what, should have less to do with title or position than with aptitude and desire. As an advisor managing a team, you’re fortunate—you have much more latitude than, for example, a department head at a Fortune 500 company. Ironstone can show you how to make the most of this freedom.

Recruiting and Retention

Your practice won’t have the headcount to allow for any Hamsters—there’s just nowhere for them to hide. That’s the good news. The bad news is that a small staff means that every member has significant impact, and that in turn means you can’t afford to hire the wrong person. How, then, do you select people who will be easily engaged? We’ll show you the keys to an effective process.

Compensation

Engaged employees focus first on what they produce for the organization, but that doesn’t mean that compensation is irrelevant. An engaged employee is a valuable resource, and a key team member who can be just as engaged with another employer for more money is likely to depart sooner rather than later. Learn how best to balance your total compensation package to retain your team.

Non-monetary Rewards

Money matters, but there is much more than money that matters. Recognition is consistently cited as among the most effective motivators, and you should never underestimate its impact in the close-knit environment of your practice. Constructing appropriate incentive systems above and beyond base compensation that will achieve the desired result is also crucial. Our workshop will offer creative approaches to this challenge.

Self-development

One of the best ways to retain engaged team members is to provide a clear path to greater responsibility and assist your people in progressing along it. In some cases that may even mean that they one day move from support staff to being an advisor themselves. Facilitating that process instead of standing in the way will earn you tremendous loyalty.

Assessment Tools

There are a number of tools available, and Ironstone can help both you and your team members recognize where their aptitudes and preferences lie—and no, many of them won’t actually know, especially in the case of something they’ve never done before. The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator and Profiles International Assessment are examples of instruments with a tested theoretical base and extensive use, and we’ll show you how best to apply them.

Evaluation

Most companies require some form of employee evaluation. Performance reviews are often a dreaded chore for both manager and employee—which is why you may have decided to forego the process in your practice—but what if you could transform it into something of true value? Ironstone can show you how.

Coaching

Helping your team members achieve maximum value to your practice and maximum personal satisfaction won’t happen magically or overnight. It requires consistent and ongoing guidance, feedback, and communication. Our workshops will show you how to coach consistently and effectively.


Leave a comment

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


Leave a comment

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.


Leave a comment

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