Friday, August 26, 2016

HR 101 - The Charge - Sexual Harassment

HR 101 - The Charge – Sexual Harassment

By Nikki Viljoen of Viljoen Consulting CC

Please note that this pertains to South African Labour Law & Best Practice Requirements

I have been reading some very interesting case studies lately and thought that it might be a good idea to share some of these with you.  Now before anyone does the usual ‘knee jerk’ and the government’s legislation etc., let me be very clear on one thing.  The law (irrespective of whether it is labour law or commercial law or any other specific law) is always open to interpretation – just keep that in mind always.

So let’s bring in the protagonists – Mike, who owns a retail outlet, selling CD’s and DVD’s, in a busy mall.  Mike employs George, who is the supervisor and Julie (amongst others) who is a sales person.

Mike goes off to attend a meeting one Monday and comes back to absolute chaos.  Julie is in floods of tears and it is evident that all the female staff in the store are really angry with George.  Mike starts to investigate.

Apparently, or so the story goes from the female perspective, George and Julie received new stock, as was the norm on a Monday morning, that came with posters.  The one poster was of the lead singer of a band, standing in a typical “Michael Jackson” pose with his hand on his genitals.  Julie was disgusted at the visual effect of the poster and commented that it should not be displayed in the windows for children to see and George, from the male perspective, thought that the poster was hilarious and that there was nothing disgusting about it.

To illustrate his point (and I suspect to tease Julie), George jumped up and started dancing around Julie, to the music that was playing in the store and every time he came around to the front of her, he gyrated and put his hands over his genitals, mimicking Michael Jackson’s dance moves.

The men found this absolutely ‘fall down funny’ but the women were outraged.  George, intent on getting his dance moves just right, misread Julie’s protests of his dance and continued to dance around her.  Julie felt that his behaviour was disrespectful and unprofessional and George oblivious to this, just continued to gyrate and dance.

Eventually his dance routine was interrupted, when a whole group of customers entered the store, they had to be attended to.

The male staff saw this as a bit of harmless fun, but the female staff saw this as disrespectful behaviour as well as a form of sexual harassment as he had gyrated and ‘grabbed his genitals’ in Julie’s face.

Understandably, Mike was really annoyed with George.  Not only was his behaviour unprofessional, but as the supervisor he should have been setting an example.  Sexual harassment is a dismissible offense and Mike went through the process of the disciplinary.  George was found guilty and was dismissed.

George lodged with the CCMA and unfortunately Mike lost the case.

Here’s the thing – although the charge of “Sexual Harassment” is an extremely serious one, the CCMA found that “the dismissal was too harsh because it was an isolated incident and was unlikely to be repeated.”

Sure, George’s behaviour was inappropriate, but no-one had been sexually assaulted or raped or threatened and as I have said many times – the punishment must fit the crime.

Nikki is an Internal Auditor and Business Administration Specialist who can be contacted on 083 702 8849 or or

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Early Warning - All About Procurement Fraud - Part 2

EARLY WARNING - All About Procurement Fraud – Part 2

By Nikki Viljoen – Viljoen Consulting Januar

Last time we looked at exactly what Procurement is and also briefly, what Procurement Fraud is.

Today we will dig a little deeper and start looking at the different types of procurement.

All decisions to purchase, whether that purchase is in goods or services open you, the business owner up to fraud of one sort or another.  This is because all purchasing decisions involve issues around delivery and handling marginal benefit and price fluctuations. One of the most important distinctions to make is the distinction between purchases with a ‘high’ risk fraud and those with a ‘low’ risk.

Larger manufacturing companies often use tools to analyze the economic and financial factors and implications that this produces as there are also two very different types of acquired goods and services and more often than not, procurement activities are split between these two depending of course, on the type of business that you are in.  The first type is ‘direct production related procurement’ and the second one is therefore ‘non-production related procurement’.  So now let’s have a look at what the main difference is between these two.

Direct procurement usually only happens in a manufacturing type of environment.  It includes all the different parts or components of the finished product.  This would be raw materials and/or components and/or parts.  Direct procurement therefore affects the whole production process within the manufacturing arena.

Indirect procurement on the other hand, pertains to the operating expenses and/or operating resources.  It’s the purchases that relate to the operational requirements of the company.  Clearly this has a very wide and far reach, as this applies to all the goods and services.  It is reflected in the standard office type supplies such as (but not limited to) stationery or regular office supplies to machines of a different caliber such as heavy equipment.  It also applies to consulting type services such as legal and/or accounting services.

In both direct and indirect procurement, systems need to be implemented to ensure that purchases are made at the correct time, from the correct supplies and at the correct price.

Next time we will have a look at these processes in a little more depth.

Nikki is an Internal Auditor and Business Administration Specialist who can be contacted on 083 702 8849 or or

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Marketing 101 - Duplicating Efforts

MARKETING 101 - Duplicating Efforts

By Nikki Viljoen – Viljoen Consulting CC

I am no expert on marketing – that said, common sense and logic must tell you that most marketing techniques have already been tried and tested through time.

I am pretty sure that many people will tell you that it is really important to be innovative and creative with respect to your marketing efforts.

To add to that I am also pretty sure that you are hugely excited about your very new and unique widget and/or product, or if your widget and/or product is not new, the unique spin is on why your product and/or service is different and why people should be using your product and/or service rather that anyone else’s.

It is really very easy to get caught up in the hype and the emotional excitement of the whole thing, but the bottom line is that your focus should be on the results that come out of the marketing.

Whilst it is not a good idea to copy other brands out there (you won’t see Pepsi doing the exact same marketing as Coca Cola, for example), it would be a good idea to have a look at the basic idea of what your competition are doing.  Look at the structure of the marketing exercise and what kind of campaign they are using.  What does the advertisement do and who is the target market?  Is the advertisement appropriate to the target market and so on.  So you can use the same kind of formula as the basis for thinking out and developing your own strategy.

So the better idea for great marketing is not trying to ‘fry your brain’, to think of new and innovative ways in which to market yourself and/or your product, but to use the old and trusted methods of marketing.

Keep your focus on the results and choose a winning formula as apposed to a wildly creative formula as your marketing approach of choice.

Nikki is an Internal Auditor and Business Administration Specialist who can be contacted on 083 702 8849 or

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Business Tips - Creating a Successful Team - Part 2

BUSINESS TIPS – Creating a Successful Team – Part 2

By Nikki Viljoen – Viljoen Consulting CC

Following on from last time, here are some more tips on how to get the best out of your team.

My ‘baby’ brother is a Senior International Partner at Deloittes in Australia and I am immensely proud of him.  We chat often and as I tell him of what is happening in my life and what I am achieving and he always says “Well done Nikki!”  The first time he said it I was amused – I mean, here I am – his ‘big’ sister and he is the one that is praising me (not that I never praised him or congratulated him, you understand).  It did make me feel good though (and it still does).  I guess that we, as the human beings, still always need to be acknowledged in some way or another.  Even though your staff are members of a team, remember that they still remain individuals and as individuals they still need to be encouraged.

When a member of your team does something correctly or their job performance is good, give them recognition.  This tells them (and all their colleagues) that you are aware of what is going on and that you have noticed that they are doing well.  Congratulations and praise should be given as soon as possible and if you have motivated them with promises of a reward, be sure to give that reward as soon as they have achieved the objective.  Holding onto a reward that should have been given in the hopes that it will spur them onto achieving more objectives will not work and in all probability will have a negative effect.  So don’t do it.

As someone who prefers to work alone, one of my biggest challenges is  to delegate.  Think about it for a moment though – you have a team, more importantly, you are part of a team.  Each member of the team (including you) has specific tasks that they need to perform.  If you were able to complete the project all by yourself, you would not need the team – therefore you have to ‘give up’ a lot of the tasks that you would normally perform to the various team members that those tasks fall under.  They are no longer your tasks.  Giving up those tasks will also free up time for you to do the important tasks that fall under your particular portfolio – so if it’s not on your portfolio, then  it’s not your task – give it to someone else or hand it over to the person that it belongs to.  Delegating things successfully will show your staff that you trust them to do their work (and any other tasks that you give them) properly.  It will give them confidence in their abilities and will generally assist with motivating them as well.

Just like any successful democracy, the whole team should be involved in the decision making.  Yes you are ultimately responsible for the outcomes and the deliverables and everything else that goes with that, but you need the ‘buy in’ of the team and that will never happen if they are not part of the decision making.  Remember they are the ones that have to do the physical work and if they are just ‘told’ what to do, without understanding the ‘why’ and the consequences they will become disgruntled.

Next time we will look at the final few tips on Creating a Successful team.

Nikki is an Internal Auditor and Business Administration Specialist who can be contacted on 083 702 8849 or or

Monday, August 22, 2016

Motivation - It's Not the What, It's the Who


By Nikki Viljoen of N Viljoen Consulting CC

It is said that “It’s not what you have, but WHO you have in your life that counts the most.”

Whilst on some level I agree whole heartedly with that statement, I would like to take it one step further and say that ‘It’s not only WHO you have in your life, but also who they have in their lives, that will count the most in yours’.

I have watched this in play over and over and over again – people sitting around a table chatting about this and that and suddenly a single comment is made and everybody interacts with everybody else in terms of somebody who knows somebody who can assist.  It’s wonderful to watch this when it happens.

You see most people instinctively want to help others and sometimes this is the only way that they know how.

So I consider myself truly blessed, because I know a great many people, who know a great many people, and when I need help and assistance all I have to do is ask!

Nikki is an Internal Auditor and Business Administration Specialist who can be contacted on 083 702 8849 or

Friday, August 19, 2016

HR 101 - Failure to Disclose - Part 2

HR 101 - Failure to Disclose – Part 2

By Nikki Viljoen of Viljoen Consulting CC

So now, as promised, the not so nice ending for the employer – let’s bring in the protagonists.  Michelle is the owner of a busy day Spa.  Men and women come to spend an entire day, or even just an hour or two, being pampered and spoilt. The Spa offers several different types of massages as well as the usual facials and what have you.  Michelle has had several requests from some of her regular ladies for a male masseuse and she had decided that that would be quite a draw card. So she goes about getting the right person for the job.

Michelle also has all the proper procedures in place and she is also careful to ensure that all the right questions are asked, one of them is “Do you have a criminal record” and her applicant George responds with a resounding “No, I don’t.”  George is the successful applicant and he is hired and starts work immediately.

From the very beginning, George is very popular with the ladies (and even a few of Michelle’s gay male clients) and the novelty of having a male masseuse is quite a draw card.  Business is great and Michelle is pleased with her decision.

A couple of months down the road, Michelle gets a new client (let’s call her Mary).  Mary is a model and is clearly a difficult customer who makes a lot of demands – very loudly. Mary is also very careful to let everybody know who she is and who she knows.  Mary wants everything done her way, done now and is very ‘public’ about what happens, when it happens and if it happens.  Michelle stresses out every time Mary arrives as she disrupts the quiet and peaceful tranquillity of the Spa and it takes several hours, after she has left, for everybody to calm down and for peace and quiet to be restored.

On her 3rd or 4th visit Mary decides that she is going to try the male masseuse and despite the fact that George is fully booked for the day, Mary makes such a scene about it, that one of the regular clients decides to forego her scheduled and booked treatment with George and ‘give up’ her spot  for the sake of peace and quiet.  A very grateful Michelle promises, not only a replacement appointment, but also another at no cost.

Mary goes into George’s massage room and all hell breaks loose.  Mary starts screaming as though she is being attacked and a very traumatised and distraught George hastily departs the massage room.  Mary comes out screaming like a banshee because ‘George is the pervert who tried to sexually abuse her’ at the previous spa that she used to go to and now he has ‘followed’ her here to Michelle’s Spa.  Mary describes in great glorious detail what George is ‘allegedly’ did to her and states that she brought charges against George and that the ‘law’ has taken its course.

Michelle is obviously outraged as she did ask if George has a criminal record and George had replied that he did not.  In her anger, frustration and obvious embarrassment, Michelle set about calling for a disciplinary hearing and George was dismissed for non-disclosure.  George goes off the CCMA and Michelle loses the case.

Here’s the thing, in this country ‘a person is deemed innocent until proven guilty’ and since the court case, having been postponed several times because Mary’s lawyers just did not bother to pitch up, was eventually dismissed for ‘lack of evidence’, George was not charged or found guilty of anything, therefore when he stated that he did not have a ‘criminal record’ he was telling the truth. Michelle was ordered to pay all sorts of damages as well as all of George’s legal fees.  Worse than that, Michelle still contends with Mary and all of her ‘loud’ snide comments about being subjected to a massage by a criminal.

As you can see from this story, if Michelle had used the services of a proper HR consultant, this probably would have been resolved without the huge legal costs incurred, because of her lack of understanding of the law.

My advice to Michelle would have been to get hold of a reputable HR specialist who had a good grounding in IR (Industrial Relations) and also to ‘fire’ Mary as a client!

 Nikki is an Internal Auditor and Business Administration Specialist who can be contacted on 083 702 8849 or or

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Early Warning - All About Procurement Fraud - Part 1

EARLY WARNING - All About Procurement Fraud – Part 1

By Nikki Viljoen – Viljoen Consulting

I have decided that going forward, not only will the “Early Warning” section be used to highlight some of the negative things that are currently happening, but it will also be used proactively to try and avoid the negative things from happening. In this particular case “Procurement Fraud”.  It is quite a large topic so as usual when this happens, it will be segmented into smaller parts.

So . . .  let’s start at the beginning – What is Procurement?

According to the Wiki “Procurement is the acquisition of goods or services”.  The Wiki goes on to say (sic) “It is favourable that the goods/services are appropriate and that they are procured at the best possible cost to meet the needs of the purchaser in terms of quantity and quality, time and locations (Weele 2010).  Corporations and public bodies often define processes intended to promote fair and open competition for their business while minimizing exposure to fraud and collusion.”

So what then is “Procurement Fraud?”

Again, according to the Wiki (sic) “Procurement Fraud can be defined as dishonestly obtaining an advantage, avoiding an obligation or causing a loss to public property or various means during procurement process by public servants, contractors or any other person involved in the procurement process.”

In the Corporate world and certainly in the Government Departments and Parastatels, the whole procurement process is handled by specific “Procurement Departments” with often, hundreds of personnel and this usually is where all the mischief happens.  Remember that in the larger companies (and obviously on a much smaller scale in the SMME playground), there are many different ‘types’ of procurement, depending on the sector – some of the more generic ones are (but not limited to):-
Staff Training
Equipment (office and other)
IT (hardware and software) etc.

Keeping control of these purchases and these expenses has become a priority, as crime escalates and as always, as it affects the bottom line.

Sadly, more and more I am discovering that “Procurement Fraud” is not only taking place in the larger Corporates and/or Government and/or the Parastatels, but also in smaller companies, so going forward, in this series, we will together identify the ‘red flags’ and find practical solutions on how to avoid this particular scam.

Nikki is an Internal Auditor and Business Administration Specialist who can be contacted on 083 702 8849 or or