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Category >> Management
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.


Oct 10

Watching Overhead

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One of my clients, "Walker Promotions", sold business promotional items like coffee mugs and logo shirts. The business employed thirty people and had been growing nicely.  The problem was that overhead increased faster than sales, squeezing profits.  The business went from a good profit as a 15-person company to a small loss with 30 employees.

When business grows, we should be able to obtain a better division of labor.  Each person should more specialized and better skilled on the job. In addition, some tasks can be delegated from higher paid staff to less costly employees. In principle, as a business grows, profit margins should increase; not decrease.
King Solomon observed, “The more you have, the more people come to help you spend it. So what good is wealth--except perhaps to watch it slip through your fingers!” (Ecclesiastes 5:11, NLT)
I advise clients who want to grow their business to write out an organizational chart for their future, not just the present. The chart helps determine in advance what skills the next hires should have as well as how tasks should be assigned.
Here’s an example.  Walker Promotions had six people in the accounting department.  Each handled a wide variety of tasks:  billing, handling customer questions, paying suppliers, and paying operating bills. Each person did everything which resulted in reduced efficiency. I suggested that management reorganize the department using the supervisor to field customer billing questions and assign different people to each facet of accounting. This allowed each employee to develop increased knowledge and efficiency. In addition, simpler tasks, like paying approved vendor bills and ongoing business expenses, were delegated to a less costly person.  


Aug 17

Does Capping Commission Make Sense?

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A business owner asked me how he could cap the commission he paid his best sales person. The concern was that this salesperson was going to make more than the owner. The business made around $10 million in sales and employed 6 salespeople who received a commission of 9% of gross sales. The “star” sold $3 million, earning $270,000, a high salary. The next best salesperson earned just over $100,000 while others earned between $60,000 and $75,000 per year.