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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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Is Your Compensation Plan Boring Your Employees?

It’s not surprising that one of the most frequently asked questions of advisor firms is how to attract and retain talented people and reward them effectively with a remarkable compensation plan. Compensation packages are one of the largest line items in a budget. Ironstone finds that many firms are struggling to stay abreast with changes and new trends in salary and compensation beliefs while experiencing confusion on how to properly control organizational costs and remain viable.

Today’s compensation trends are moving from a base salary package to plans that include:
• A measurement system for variable pay
• Less emphasis on increasing base pay
• Overall firm goal achievement
• Flexibility

By implementing a compensation plan that includes the directives listed above, both the employee and the firm benefit. Compensation plans that incorporate these strategies foster teamwork that focuses on the concrete goals of your firm.

In order for firms to stay competitive, you must frequently change your compensation program and have a plan in place to do so. Your imagination is your only limitation to retaining and motivating the kind of people who are catalysts for the success of your firm.

We recommend that your firm be pro-active in developing and refining your firm’s compensation plan. Recognize that “quality of work life” rewards and appreciation play a vital role in the value of your firm’s benefits package. Your firm can be pro-active and creative by adding an array of perks to the overall benefits package you offer. Consider the following:
• Recognize results with a one-time monetary payment
• Offer opportunity for flexible work arrangements
• Write thank you notes to acknowledge a team member’s “above and beyond” actions
• Present pre-paid legal, education, and insurance benefits
• Place an emphasis on training and development of your team
• Introduce employee wellness initiatives

Lastly, remove the dead-end sign. Your team needs to see a clear and concise view of the opportunities within the firm for growth. You can add a suite of perks to your compensation package, but without the chance for growth and development, your dazzling compensation package won’t work.
As you contemplate the strategic changes you want to make in your compensation plan, do not forget that your team can be your most valuable asset. It is in your best interest to focus on reducing stress at work and in your employee’s personal lives. Reward your team, without hesitation, if you hold a team of energetic, talented and growth oriented individuals.

Developing and offering a compensation plan to your employees with traditional and non-traditional elements is both egalitarian and accountable.  Download Ironstone’s Compensation Planning Checklist!  CompensationPlanningChecklist

Contact Ironstone for more information and additional strategies that will assist you in developing and strengthening your compensation plan.  You can find more information regarding compensation in our blog- “Human Capital Strategies.” https://aeschlapia.wordpress.com/2012/03/19/human-capital-strategies/

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-Marketing Plans

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


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Reducing Operational Costs Without Sacrificing Client Service

Living in today’s unpredictable business environment, one of the most frequently asked questions we receive is, “How can we cut our operating costs?” 

Streamlining business operations, while containing overhead costs, is the real secret to profitable growth.  Without coming to grips with reality, your firm will face the risk of severe loss.

Steps that you can take, starting today, to ameliorate issues and make your office more effective and efficient:

  • Establish a Budget –  Before you decide where you can afford to cut costs you must have control over your costs. A budget helps you both analyze expenses and income, as well as allows you to forecast financial variances.
  • Develop and implement systems for everything you do in your firm Implementing workflow processes increase efficiency which will in turn have a positive impact on your bottom line. Many firms tend to overlook their operational systems and workflows especially during a good economy.  Review your firm’s operational systems regularly recognize the static processes because “that is the way it’s always been done”, and be flexible to change.  This is imperative to reducing your operational costs and remaining viable amid the rising costs of operation.
  • Align the responsibilities of your staff members to their specific needs Review workflow for areas that need improvement or display a lack of clarity.  Making revisions in a workflow and ensuring that there are no duplicate efforts or wasted energy will prevent you from superfluous costs.  Besides cost savings, you benefit from significant increases in productivity.
  • Invest in more training –  It may sound ironic to invest more money while trying to reduce costs,  however, investing more in your employees shows them that they are valued.  There is an endless source of training models available online, which in-turn will also reduce your travel expenses.   Employees who feel valued, are more engaged and more productive at work.
  •  Build Strategic Alliances – In our blog “Strategic Alliances Build A Strong Foundation For Long Term Success”     https://aeschlapia.wordpress.com/2012/04/30/strategic-alliances-build-a-foundation-for-long-term-success/   we talked about how building strategic alliances positions your firm to stand apart from the competition.  Share expenses with your alliances by implementing joint advertising/media promotions, shared mailing lists and shared educational workshop expenses.  You will reduce your costs and improve your bottom line by meeting client needs.
  • Outsource  Review the organizational structure of your firm.   Pinpoint which roles could be outsourced, such as payroll or mailings.  Also consider contract employees.  Hire contract employees for special projects or ongoing tasks.  Outsourcing and utilizing contract employees will give you more time to focus on building your business.
  •  Reduce office expenses –  Consider converting to an electronic paperless system when possible and order supplies in bulk.  Shop around for lower prices and negotiate a better price if you agree to purchase all of your supplies from one vendor.  Reduce utility bills as much as possible, but not at the detriment of team effectiveness.

Reducing your operating costs without sacrificing the team’s operational effectiveness, the quality of service, and the value that you provide to your clients, will go a long way towards improving your bottom line.

Keep these principles in mind and implement them.  You’ll find that your reduced operating costs will lead you down the path to substantial growth before you realize it.

Ironstone can assist you in developing the strategies needed to reduce your operating costs while strengthening your relationships with existing and potential clients.  By being held accountable and responsible for the cost cutting steps above, you will gain control of your expenses and move towards a better bottom line.

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-The Performance Evaluation


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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


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Your Team Is A Reflection Of Your Leadership Skills – Learn How To Hire The Best!

Hiring exceptional talent is a significant component to the overall success of your firm.  Hiring the best people for your firm should always be your goal even when the economic culture is not ideal.

As a leader of your firm, your team of employees is a direct reflection of your leadership skills.  The quality of your team is measured by several benchmarks including accomplishments, adaptability, flexibility, innovation, teamwork, accountability, and overall quality. 

Begin with outlining your hiring business process.  When outlining your process, start with the end in mind and create a written recruitment plan that includes a strategy and an outline of your hiring process.  Creating a written plan will help you indentify the profile of your ideal new hire.  Engage talent through use of email, telephone and mail and screen potential candidates.  In the selection process consider involving multiple members of your team.

Talent matching has to become an integral part of the hiring process.   Ironstone can assist you during your hiring process with tools and support decisions that are critical to the overall success of your business.  Matching technologies will aide you in identifying top candidates that meet specific criteria. Results of matching or assessment tools should not be used to label, evaluate, or limit an applicant but used a measurement preference rather than aptitude.  Ironstone will help you administer screening processes and determine who your most compatible applicants are.

Skills and experience will always catch your attention, but the “fit” is often overlooked during the hiring process.  Align the best people to the position in your firm with a combination of the skill, experience and passions of your applicant.

Once you have selected your ideal candidate make sure that you follow through with an onboarding process.  Onboarding is as essential to your firm as it is to your new employee.  Orienting employees to the workplace and their specific role in your firm is one of the most neglected functions in many firms.

Developing an onboarding process for your firm should include more than an initial “new hire orientation.”  Onboarding of a new employee should continue through the first full year of employment.  Possible components of your process include (but are not limited to):

  • Ironstone’s hiring 10-step process (contact us for details)
  • An offer letter
  • New hire packet
  • Orientation & training sessions
  • Meet & greet with co-workers
  • Overview of your firms culture
  • Pre-scheduled meetings with managers & mentors
  • Early performance reviews

Your firm will reap the benefits of a well organized on-boarding strategy including increased morale, reduced turnover, increased production and reduced costs.  A documented process will make a new employee feel welcome and comfortable.

Contact Ironstone for assistance in your hiring & onboarding development.  We have numerous tools and aides available for 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 & Your Business Plan