Steve Marr Blog

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Category >> Management
Nov 29

Check Out Your Business Providers And Vendors

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Today, we tend to do business with people we hardly know or have never met. We may buy thousands of dollars’ worth of merchandise on the Internet without connecting to anyone. Fortunately, Federal law provides the ability to return anything you order, and you can contest any unauthorized or un-refunded charges. This gives some level of protection.

Nov 06

Keep a Problem Resolution Journal

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Many Christians keep a prayer journal. When we look back over months or years we can see how the Lord has answered with His “yes,” “no,” or “wait.” If we look back at a prayer journal during times of struggle, we are encouraged to see past progress.

Consider carrying this concept over to your business by keeping a journal of problems you encountered and how you resolved them. Over time you will see a pattern you can use to solve problems faster and easier.

Every solution may be valuable in the future. You can explain your progress to your boss. You can use it to show a prospective employer how you solved past problems.  If you blog, you can outline each improvement on your site.

Most importantly, when you look back; you can see and measure your progress.


Nov 01

Keep Notes when Meeting with Staff

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We often meet with staff at regularly scheduled times (recommended) or as needed. Making and keeping notes is an important part of the process. Scripture provides a model when it says, “Moses then wrote down everything the LORD had said.” (Exodus 24:4, NIV) If Moses needed to make notes, so do we.

The key is to use a format that works for you, one with which you will consistently follow through.  Let me explain the system I use.

I meet with most colleagues at least once a week at a set time. I keep a Word file of each meeting. I date the meeting and prepare an agenda with a list of items I want to cover. As we discuss each item, I make simple notes below the item.  The note may be as simple as “done” or it may identify the next steps. I make a note of any item not completed on schedule as well as a note about the reason.  Then, I include future steps that will be taken and carry those items to a future meeting time.

Some items need a due date.  When we agree on a time for completion, I put that date in my notes. Later, I copy due dates into my calendar for follow up. If a report is due November 16th, I can follow up on the 17th if not received.  Then, I place it on the next meeting agenda. At times I add action items for myself.  I copy these into my calendar, task list, or project plan.

During the week, when items come to mind, I place them in the file for the next meeting unless they require immediate attention. I prefer to cover many items at one time rather then constantly interrupt my colleague for little things.

Over time your notes give you a clear picture of a person’s performance. The trend is clear if you consistently move uncompleted items to future meetings. Likewise, your confidence increases when you regularly see completed items.

For example, when I discussed a past due item with a staff member; I reminded the person of three earlier times when the same work was late.  I reinforced the importance of staying current. This accountability is very useful when staff reviews are due.  Simply review old meeting notes.  You can furnish examples of excellent work as well as opportunities for improvement.

In each meeting I ask if the staff member needs any assistance from me.  The answer is usually no, but this opens the door for them to ask for help when needed. Also, I ask if they have anything they would like to discuss.  The goal is to encourage good two way communication.

None of us has a perfect memory, so a good note system is necessary. Regardless of how you decide to keep meeting notes, follow through, and you will be a more effective manager.

Steve Marr, Your Christian Business Coach


Oct 19

Lesson from the Gold Rush Reality Show

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Someone suggested I watch the reality show, Gold Rush. They said it would be a lesson in poor management.  Perhaps I could get some good blog material from watching it. I caught a few moments of the show and found out that my friend was right. There was poor management, poor follow through, and poor attitudes along with consistent yelling among the team.  This begs the question: how could a badly managed, dysfunctional team make money developing a gold mine?

The truth is, they probably won’t. However, I’m not sure they are in the mining business.  I think they’re in the entertainment business. By doing some research, I learned that the gold mining crew earns $47,000 for each episode from the Discovery Channel. While they welcome finding gold, their primary job is entertainment.

I don’t see the Gold Rush show as worth my time to learn about dysfunctional relationships and lousy management. I run into enough of those issues in my consulting. Besides, as long as Gold Rush participants are more interested in working as entertainers than gold miners, I can’t see learning anything from them.

Oct 17

Balancing Different Tasks

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We all need to balance different tasks to be successful. However, we have a tendency to spend more time in the tasks we personally like or deem more important. To develop a successful business, we need to balance a variety of tasks. 

The Lord spoke to Isaiah and said, “Does he who plows for sowing plow continually? Does he continually open and harrow his ground? When he has leveled the surface, does he not scatter dill, sow cumin, and put in wheat in rows and barley in its proper place, and emmer as the border? For he is rightly instructed; his God teaches him” (Isaiah 28:24-26, ESV)

Each step in farming is important.  Plowing creates the correct place and the right depth for the seeds.  A farmer plants the seeds to grow the crops.  In the same way, the Lord has designed an orderly process for work. Just as each step is important to the farmer, each step is important to you. Farmers allocate only so much time to each step.  They don’t seed every day, and even if they don’t like weeding; they weed.

Review the tasks you need to accomplish and the time allocated to each. Cut back where you can; add where it will make a difference.  Your goal is balance.  Just as the farmer uses the right balance of time to maximize the harvest, the right balance of time will help maximize your return.