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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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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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Using a Job Description as a Multifaceted Tool at Your Firm

Effectively developed employee job descriptions summarize the roles and responsibilities of each team member in your firm providing them with the foundation needed to reach desired goals and outcomes.

We outlined the components job descriptions should include in our blog, “Learn why Job Descriptions are Essential for Overall Effectiveness at Your Firm.” https://aeschlapia.wordpress.com/2012/03/30/learn-why-job-descriptions-are-essential-for-overall-effectiveness-at-your-firm/

Understanding each component and realizing their value will aide you in modifying and updating job descriptions by:

  • Establishing the role that each position plays in attaining overall firm goals
  • Determining how critical each job is
  • Deciding how positions in your firm interact with one another
  • Defining current employee roles and identifying the characteristics and skill base needed
  • Attracting qualified new candidates and aide in hiring
  • Evaluating performance accurately based on the expectations of the position

A job description needs to provide a positive impact fostering consistency and clarity for everyone involved.  Creating, reviewing and updating job descriptions should be included in your overall business strategy.

Using Job Descriptions as a Multifaceted Management Tool

Although job descriptions are utilized as a valuable hiring tool, a well-crafted job description should be used as a communication tool and a means to review other workplace functions such as:

  • Performance management:  Set measurable and attainable performance goals      based on the duties included in the job description.
  • Training and team development:  Review each job description      for areas that can be used in training and team development workshops.
  • Salary:Outline a compensation program that shows      minimums and maximums for each position in your firm.  Doing so will demonstrate growth      potential for your team member resulting in increased production, loyalty      and overall job satisfaction.    
  • Incentive Plans:  Use your job descriptions as      a baseline for salary;  include      incentives and rewards for employee’s performance levels that go above and      beyond.  
  • Discipline:  If an employee is not meeting      the requirements set forth in the job description, schedule a meeting to review      the requirements and focus on areas to aide them in      achieving goals effectively.

Flexibility is the key when it comes to creating and modifying job descriptions.  Consider creating broad-based descriptions utilizing attachments which delve into the specific tasks required of each employee.  A more generic job description is easier to maintain and won’t require a complete modification as minor changes that takes place.

How often do you use or refer to the job descriptions at your firm?  I’m curious?

Contact us for assistance in developing job descriptions that can be used as a multifaceted tool at your firm.

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-Business Plan

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


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Weed The Whiners-Create A Winning Culture

Forming a positive culture at your firm is harder to do than you think. It’s one of those intangible objects that burrows into every aspect of our being. Learning how to form and instill a healthy, positive culture is an important but often neglected process.

Workplace culture is a concept that studies the beliefs, attitudes, and thought processes of employees as well as the ideologies and principles of your firm.
In our blog “What Culture Are You Cultivating At Your Firm-Healthy or Toxic?” we reviewed characteristics of a healthy culture. If you haven’t taken the time to step back and look at your workplace culture, now is the time.    https://aeschlapia.wordpress.com/2012/03/02/what-culture-are-you-cultivating-at-your-firm-healthy-or-toxic/

Firms that take advantage of opportunities to discuss culture reap the benefits of increased productivity, growth, and efficiency. Start by knowing how to effectively create a healthy culture in your firm by establishing a process that includes the following components:

Hire For Passion: Make sure that you have your hiring checklist in the proper order. Many firms are hiring for credentials and experience but overlook passion. Dig beneath the surface of skill set and qualification to uncover your candidate’s true passions. When potential new hires are passionate about their career, they are more creative.

Open Communication & Discussion: On a regular basis, review with employees what is working and what isn’t. As a leader in your firm, make certain that you interact with your team frequently. Allow employees to discuss issues among themselves to reach better conclusions. Remember that the art of communication is a two-way street. Position your communication focus on talking as much as listening, which will lead to a dynamic workplace culture that will grow.

Weed The Whiners: Nothing can be more destructive than a whiner in the firm. Whiners will typically wind through the firm secretly complaining, instilling doubt, and poison passion in other team members. You must identify these people and replace them. Their passion is not equivalent to that of the organization and they simply aren’t a good fit.

You can create a legacy that will include a healthy culture. Invest and surround yourself with positive, passionate people and remain loyal to them. In doing so, you will earn loyalty from your team members that will provide you with long-term support and commitment. Making certain that your workplace culture is healthy will define the ambience of your firm.

Ironstone can assist you in developing the strategies and tactical questions to gain meaningful insights that will strengthen the culture in your firm. By seizing control over the factors above, you will improve the overall performance of your team and reduce workplace stress.

Contact us for assistance in starting and improving your Workplace Culture. We want to hear from you! Share your best ideas here!

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
Email us at info@ironstonehq.com
• Call our office at 800-917-8020
• Follow us on twitter @ https://twitter.com/#!/AndreaSchlapia
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• Connect with us on LinkedIn @ http://www.linkedin.com/profile/view?id=29647364&trk=tab_pro


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Implementing Team Development Programs-Often Overlooked

Learning management is a strategic component to the overall human capital mission of advisory firms and is paramount to team development.  Advisory firms should start by integrating team development programs in order to enhance employee performance.  Forward-thinking executives are continually improving the effectiveness of their teams by refining roles, expectations, and interpersonal communication in order to create accountability for results.

Your goal should be to apply and utilize a team development method that impacts your firm’s bottom line in order to gain the highest return on your learning and development investment.

Ironstone focuses on four major components that are necessary for a fully functioning workforce and implements the performance approaches to drive development.

By implementing a team development program you eliminate the need for micromanaging.

Preparation — in order to create great teams, you need to prepare to support the success of your team.  Design a culture that fuels passion, purpose, and growth.   Deliver a clear message to your team that their job is important and that you stand behind them.  Give employees the basic knowledge and skills to excel within the culture that you have created.  Share with them effective forms of communications, encourage them to ask questions, and acknowledge their contributions to the overall goals of your firm.

Incentives – Incorporate compensation into the successful execution of the firm’s goals.  One of the most powerful motivators is through the use of a performance incentive compensation plan.

Benefits –  You can become creative with the benefits that you offer to your team.  In addition to the traditional benefits such as medical insurance and retirement plans, many firms are finding that creating a flexible work environment is a good employee motivator –  increasing the desire for individual skill development for the employee.

Technology –  Providing the proper technology and training for your team to perform their job is essential to overall team development.   We have found that many firms do not take this component seriously or place much effort in assuring technology and training needs are met for employees.    Obsolete or barely functional technology tells employees their job is not important and their time is not valued.

Once you have put these components into your human capital mission, you will find that employees are capable of managing their position in the firm.  Support your team members and empower them to be as great as they can be.

“A company that does not support, empower and provide proper development

 to employees can take a great team to a problem in a very short time.”

Ironstone can assist you in developing a team development program.   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.

Contact us for assistance in starting and improving developing or starting your team development program.  We want to hear from you!   Share your best ideas here!  What does your firm do to promote team development?   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-Business Model