The Elements Ironstone Blog

Current news and trending topics for sales and financial industry professionals


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Mountain or Molehill? How Do You Build Your Strategic Alliances?

Building and maintaining strategic alliance’s does not need to be viewed as a mountain that can’t be climbed Choose to climb the molehill instead and you will put the process of strategic alliance planning into proper perspective.  This is not to say that developing and reviewing your plan won’t take a lot of hard work and preparation; all relationships do.   Building your strategic alliances and/or partners is the same.

We have found that most advisors have not taken the time to invest in building strategic alliances, much less start to develop a plan.  Yet, those that build alliances generate higher revenues and profits.   It only takes a small number of strategic partners to have a positive impact within your firm.  

In our blog, Strategic Alliances Build A Foundation For Long-Term Success, https://aeschlapia.wordpress.com/2012/04/30/strategic-alliances-build-a-foundation-for-long-term-success/, we reviewed the steps you should include when developing your Strategic Alliance Plan.

Don’t make your strategic alliance plan a mountain; it only needs to be a molehill

Many advisors avoid the process of creating strategic alliances because it appears to be an overwhelming project with diminutive benefits.  Reality is, by creating strategic alliances you will position your firm to bring value to your clients and your business.  Start and keep your plan small and simple.  Focus on:

  • One or two relationships
  • Create mutual benefits for each organization
  • Align your vision and mission with the partners you choose
  • Mutually commit to specific actions and review, review, review
  • Establish a trial period
  • Define key and measurable metrics
  • Have an exit strategy

Recognize the importance your entire team can play in developing your strategic alliance plan and contribute to relationships that can be established.   You don’t need to take the entire project on yourself.  Delegate pieces of your plan and commit to regular meetings to discuss progress, challenges and overcoming objections.

Ironstone has found that the key factor in a strategic alliance plan is to follow up on metrics and expectations that you and your partners have agreed upon.  Lack of follow up leads to non- productive and one-way relationships.  If you find you are in a one-way relationship, you need to leave and create a new one.

We are curious!!  Does your firm have strategic alliances?  Tell us about it!

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 Business Development and Your Firm’s Advisory Board

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


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Relationship Management or Incentive Plans? Which Will Inspire Your Team?

Incentive plans should not be misconstrued as a means to motivate your team.  You first need to  build concrete goals and then inspire your team to reach each goal with conviction.    It is imperative to communicate overall firm goals with your team.  Group and one-on-one meetings provide an opportune time to discuss and evaluate strategies to reach each goal.  Allowing your team members the opportunity to contribute to the overall success of your firm will instill motivation, confidence and passion that incentive plans cannot do on their own.

Before implementing an incentive plan, make certain your team members are fully engaged and committed to the position they hold at your firm.  This will mean you, as a manager, must realize offering an incentive plan will not magically transform a disengaged team or team member.   In our blog, “Learn How to Make an Employee Incentive Plan Effective,”  https://aeschlapia.wordpress.com/2012/04/03/learn-how-to-make-employee-incentive-plans-effective/  we stressed the importance of being a good manager by guiding your employees to work on what is most important and then implementing an incentive plan as a reward.

Employee incentive plans are a significant component for firms wanting to stay competitive and on track with the pace of evolution in the workforce.   You will need to do your homework for your plan to be effective:

  • Recognize all factors that affect your team’s behavior.
  • Look at the type of culture you have in your firm.
  • Understand each of your goals and the processes you will use.
  • Develop a measurement system for each goal.

At Ironstone, we have found many employee incentive plans simply don’t reap their intended results because  they were implemented for the wrong reasons.  Don’t be fooled in believing that an incentive program will counter poor behavior, performance or disengaged team members.

Start your incentive plan after you have managed your employees to the level of being:

  • Engaged
  • Passionate
  • Productive
  • Loyal

Once your team is instilled with the qualities listed above, you can implement your incentive plan by including the following critical elements:

  • Identify your desired activity/goal
  • Develop the tactical plan and how employees will work toward achieving each goal
  • The amount of time allotted to obtain each goal
  • The reward for achieving the goal

Remember every aspect of your plan needs to be measured to ensure the program’s success in achieving each goal.  Make sure your firm’s strategic goals are concise and specific which provides team members a clear understanding of what is expected from them.

Goals should be challenging, yet achievable.  The incentive plan will be destined

 for failure if goals are interpreted as being unattainable.

A successful incentive program requires that each feature is suited to your team members’ interests.  Find out what motivates your team.  Adapting each element of the program to fit your team will provide you with engaged participants and enhance the effectiveness of the program.

Ironstone can assist you in strengthening relationship management at your firm which will lay the foundation needed to implement a successful employee incentive program.

Readers, we are curious!   What are your thoughts on employee incentive programs?

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

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


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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: