Friday, March 23, 2018

HR 101 - What to do When . . . You Need to Compile a Job Description - Part 1

HR 101 - WHAT TO DO WHEN . . . . You Need to Compile a Job Description - Part 1

By Nikki Viljoen – N Viljoen Consulting (Pty) Ltd

Please note that this pertains to South African Labour Relations and Best Practice.

In my experience, one of greatest challenge in any small business is getting the paperwork right, particularly in the HR arena.

Issues of paperwork seem to pale into insignificance, when the focus is on getting the sale of the product or service, in order to ensure that there are sufficient funds at the end of the month to pay the bills.

Ironically, it is the lack of proper ‘paperwork’ that usually becomes the downfall of the Company and this is especially true when it comes to the HR side of the business.

Landing up at the CCMA, with a difficult staff member, who has all the weight of the law behind them, because you – as the business owner – have not put all the requirements in place, could mean the demise of your business as the fines paid will eat into your hard earned cash flow.  Some businesses and  business owners never recover.

Ensuring that your staff have been notified, in writing, of their job descriptions and their duties is a legal requirement.  The law is there to actually protect the employer as well as the employee.  That, perhaps is the first thing that we all need to understand.

The next thing that we all need to understand, is the difference between a “Job Description” and the “Duties” of the employee.  Most people that I come into contact with seem to think that it is one and the same – beware – it isn’t.

A job description is exactly that – it describes the job. 

Employee duties is exactly that, it describes the duties that the employee is expected to perform.

Let me simplify this a little more for you.  In some Companies, particularly small businesses, an employee may be expected to perform several duties, for example Jane Doe, may be employed as the PA and the Bookkeeper and she may also be responsible for shipping and sales as well.  So her duties (which is what goes onto the letter or contract of employment) are that of PA, Bookkeeper, Shipping clerk and sales assistant.  Therefore Jane Doe actually should have four different Job Descriptions – one for each of the duties that she performs and despite the fact that there may be ‘overlaps’ on each one of them – in this instance for example, she may be required to liaise with clients for issues pertaining to each individual duty, the fact remains that they are four extremely different jobs and each one must have their own Job Description.

In a big Corporate, often there is one Job Description for several employees.  Take for example a Company that has several hundred sales assistants.  Each assistant would have the duties of a ‘Sales Assistant’ on their letter of appointment, but there would only be one Job Description involved and that would be the Job Description of a Sales Assistant.

Writing Job Descriptions for me is not a difficult thing, but then that is because of the way that my brain is wired, however it has become increasingly evident that for others it is one of the most difficult and challenging things to write – especially if the person writing it has no knowledge of what the actual job entails.  For example, George is an extremely talented designer and if asked could probably tell you to the nearest cm, how much fabric is required to make a particular garment.  That said, George in all probability would have no clue how to run a set of books properly.  Oh don’t get me wrong George would understand the basics of how to cost the garment and what have you, but the ‘nuts and bolts’ of bookkeeping would not only bore him to tears, it is something that he would not understand.  Could you therefore imagine George writing a Job Description for the bookkeeper that he would need to employ?

In the big Corporate Companies, the person writing the job description is usually the Line Manager, and it would be written in conjunction with the HR Manager.  The Line Manager would understand and have experience in every aspect of the job or position that he would like fulfilled  and the HR Manager would have the experience of how to put those requirements into a Job description.  In a small business, the business owner is usually the one who does everything that needs to be done, often without fully understanding all the requirements of the job as is evidenced by George the talented designer.

Next time, I will list some of the basic requirement.

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

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Blogging 101 - Growing Your Visitor List

BLOGGING TIPS 101 – Growing Your Visitor List

By Nikki Viljoen – Viljoen Consulting (Pty) Ltd May 2011

I started writing blogs purely for my own enjoyment.  It was a way for me to engage with the creative part of who I am.

As I became more confident though, and as more and more people joined the list of people “following” me – I quickly realized how blogging could be turned, not only into a marketing exercise but also a source of revenue generation.

Clearly I needed and wanted to grow the list of people following me and in order to do this, logic tells me that I have to, not only entice new visitors, but also convert visitors into dedicated readers.

This is obviously a ‘two pronged approach’.  To entice ‘new’ visitors I would need to write about something that they were interested in and in order to do that, I expanded the topics that I write about.  I also started driving readers to my website by using Facebook and Twitter and LinkedIn  and it worked.  The number of visits to my website increased and the average amount of time spent on the website also increased.

Enticing visitors to become dedicated readers is also not that difficult.  If you are giving people ‘more’ of what they want, logic tells you that they will be back for more.  So giving people what they want rather than what I think they need is very important (incidentally this is how this particular series on blogging started, someone asked for it).

Tag onto the end of that - I asked people to let me know what topics they want information on or by using the day to day life experiences with problems and issues that I encounter, I research and write about these individual requirements and share what I have learned.  You would be surprised at the number of similar experiences people in the world of SME’s, Startups and Entrepreneurs, share and strangely enough we always tend to think that we are the only ones going through this.

The length of time that people spend on my website reading my blogs evidences that people are in fact reading what I write and it evidences that the visitors are becoming dedicated readers.

So my message today is this – find out what your readers would like to read about and do something completely different . . . .  give people exactly what they want!

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

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Networking 101 - Often Less is More

NETWORKING 101 - Often less is more

By Nikki Viljoen of Viljoen Consulting (Pty) Ltd.

Dr. Renate Volpe, in her nugget cards entitled “Networking Tips” says:

“Often less is more.  Don’t overload people with information.  Keep it simple!”

Aah!  This is absolute music to my ears! I seem to run around like a mad person telling people to keep things simple - simple procedures, simple English, simple, simple, simple!

In days gone by when I still worked in the Corporate world, I remember everyone in absolute hysterics with me, when during a senior management meeting, in absolute frustration I blurted out “We should have a sign made that says, “Our new mission statement is ‘Why simplify things when we can make them as difficult as we please!’ ”

I mean think about it for a moment – we wouldn’t travel from Johannesburg to Durban, via Cape Town – now would we?  (Well I suppose some bright sparks would!) Yet somehow we persist in doing things the hard way, making it difficult for ourselves.

I am sure we have all heard the words “It can’t be that simple – can it?”  Well actually people – it is and it can be. 

So make notes for your ‘elevator speech’ and again for a bit of a longer introduction.  Make sure that your information is clear, that the sentences flow into each other and that they actually make sense.  Keep it as short as possible – the longer discussions should take place on a ‘one on one’ basis.  Make sure that the message you are trying to get across is understandable.  Remember you know (we hope that you should know) intimately what you do and you carry that picture in your head.  What you are trying to do is put that picture into as few words as possible and hoping that as you say those words, the picture that you have in your head will magically appear in the heads of the people around you.  Be clear and careful about this, there are a few people who I have seen and heard at networking meetings over the last ten years, and I still have no idea about what it is that they do – their messages are really very complicated and unclear!

Now here lies the challenge – how do I refer someone, when I am absolutely confused about what it is that they do!

So here it is:
Be clear
Be concise
Keep it short
Keep it simple.

Happy networking!

For more information on Renate, please visit her website at

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

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Business Tips - Planning to Succeed - Part 2

BUSINESS TIPS – Planning to Succeed – PART 2

By Nikki Viljoen – Viljoen Consulting (Pty) Ltd

Following on from last time, let’s look at some of the other guidelines that can be used by SMME’s to plan for the success of their business.

Organizational Chart

Contrary to popular belief, an organizational chart is not just about knowing which staff report into which departments or which individuals head up the various departments.  Having a proper organizational chart makes it that much easier for business owners to see or visualize the company with all its various divisions and compartments.

This in turn makes it easier to put strategy and infrastructure in place and it will also allow business owners to respond to changing markets, trends and opportunity, a lot faster and more effectively.  Having a plan or chart clearly visible has a great impact – much more than something that is merely a thought or an idea and that is kept only in the mind.

The organizational chart also means that intensions are clear and well defined and this makes it a lot easier to communicate these intentions to your staff.

Positional Contracts

Although all the staff need to have their own contracts – having contracts that are specific to a position is always a good thing.  Apart from the fact that the staff member concerned will be under no misconception about what their role in the company is, the business owner also gets to define that particular role and make their expectations clear.

The easiest way for me (and I suspect that this is standard practice) is to start at the top of the organizational chart and work your way downwards.

Remember of course to have the list of requirements for each task readily at hand and make sure that your expectations and requirements are clear.


KPI’s of course are “Key Performance Indicators” and they are how the performance of the staff member is to be measured.  Remember the old adage “If you can’t measure it you can’t manage it?” Well here’s the thing – it’s true and the best way to set those measurements and implement them is in the KPI’s or job descriptions.  That way, as the business owner, your intention is made clear from the start and the consequences of not meeting your expectation is also documented.

Just make sure though, that when you hire someone for a position that they are capable of performing the required task or you will be responsible for setting them up for failure.  The days of hiring someone because they had cute dimples or because they had long gorgeous legs and then dismissing them at some stage because you discovered that the work was not being done, are no longer here.  You, as the business owner also have a responsibility for ensuring that the person you hire is qualified and capable of doing the work.

How-to Manuals

It is of the utmost importance – most especially if you have staff – to document ‘how to’. Ensuring that your staff all complete tasks in the same way will ensure that things get done properly and consistently and will also provide you with something to measure their performance by.

Actually if the truth be told, even if you don’t have staff, having checklists for yourself for all the tasks that you perform will ensure that you don’t forget to do things when you are interrupted by the phone or a client.

Documenting your ‘how-to’ will also remove all sorts of emotional issues like (but not limited to) “but I thought you meant” or “I thought I would do it like this today” or my personal favorite “But I always do it like this!” Instructions that are simple and clear provide the groundwork for work that is correctly and timeously performed, leaving little room for error and oversight.

So, there you have it – the basic plans that you should have in place as you venture out into the world of Business Owner.

Don’t forget to check your plans and goals on a regular basis though – not only to see that you are still going in the right direction, but also to ‘tick off’ your accomplishments as and when you realize them.  Then of course there are always the little ‘tweaks’ that need to be done as you change direction due to market trends and legislational requirements.

Good luck on your new venture and don’t forget to have fun along the way.

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

Monday, March 19, 2018

Motivation - True Value


By Nikki Viljoen of Viljoen Consulting (Pty). Ltd

The quote today comes from Jim Rohn, who says -  “You don't get paid for the hour. You get paid for the value you bring to the hour.”

Oh, I do like this one!  As a Consultant, who charges and gets paid by the hour, this is like manna from heaven for me.  Not only does it make absolute sense to me it also takes into account my Intellectual Property (IP)!  I can just see all the eyebrows shoot up – well it does, and they do.

Ok, let me try and explain this on paper.  When I sit with a client, in a meeting and then charge them for that hour (or more), I am often looked at like I am crazy. Why? If you go to a doctor or a lawyer, you would expect to pay for that hour – why would my time be any different?  So, I don’t have a whole bunch of letters behind my name to say that I am a doctor or a lawyer, so what right do I have to charge anyone for my time?

Well it’s like this – yes a doctor or lawyer has studied for x number of years to gain their knowledge, which they use in order to address whatever problem it is that you have.  Well so have I – I have gained my knowledge through experience.  For the last 40+ years, I have had on the job training – I have lived, slept, eaten and . . ok let’s not go there.  Suffice it to say that I know exactly what I am doing, how to do it and when it needs to be done.

So when I sit in the client’s office, in a meeting, answering questions – I am giving that client the benefit of my 40+ years of business experience and like any doctor or lawyer who has studied, I deserve to be paid for the value that I have brought to that hour of discussion.

Take time to remember this, the next time you have a meeting with someone whose brain you are ‘picking’. 

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

Friday, March 16, 2018

HR 101 - WHAT TO DO WHEN . . . . You Need to Conduct a Disciplinary

HR 101 - WHAT TO DO WHEN . . . . You Need to Conduct a Disciplinary

By Nikki Viljoen – N Viljoen Consulting (Pty) Ltd.

Please note that this pertains to South African Labour Law and Best Practice requirements.

The mindset of most individuals is that the conducting of a Disciplinary hearing is a ‘waste of time”.  Whilst that may be the perception – it is really the only way that both parties, the Employer and the Employee, get to do battle in a way that is completely fair and without any emotion.

The Basic Conditions of Employment Act is very clear on the subject.

Staff can no longer just be summarily dismissed – the staff member is thereby protected from an employer hell bent on dismissal.  Staff members, no longer get to do as they please and then get away with it – the employer is thereby protected.

There are now rules and regulations governing how things get done – this is called the Disciplinary Procedure.

Many cases that have landed up in the CCMA, and been lost by either of the parties because the correct procedures were not followed and not necessarily because of the alleged transgression.

They are not difficult, they are completely fair and they can ensure a fair outcome.  If the employee is dismissed and feels that justice has not been served – they can firstly ‘appeal’ the decision and if they still do not feel that justice has been served they can then take the whole issue to the CCMA.

Let’s step back a moment and see what the procedures are:

·                    The staff member must be served with a Notice to Attend a Disciplinary Hearing.
·                    The charges must be clear and concise. 
·                    The staff member must be given a minimum of 48 hours to prepare their case from the time that the Notice is served to the time that the hearing takes place.
·                    The staff member has the right to have representation (this means someone inside of the company – no lawyers at this point)
·                    The staff member has the right to have an interpreter if there is a need.
·                    The staff member has the right to call any witnesses, if there is a need.

And guess what – the Employer has the same rights.

The Disciplinary must be chaired by an impartial person, who has not been involved with any of the issues leading up to the hearing being called for.  This way, both cases get to be heard without any pre-conceived perceptions.

The Chairperson must hear both sides of the story, before making a ruling.  The Chairperson can ask as many questions as they feel the need to, in order to reach a decision.

And finally the penalty must fit the crime. 

Next week we tackle a new issue.

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

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Blogging 101 - Always Proof Read

BLOGGING 101 – Always Proof Read

By Nikki Viljoen – Viljoen Consulting CC July 2010

Just because you are writing on a blog, or posting on twitter, or even on some of the social sites such as FaceBook, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t view or treat your writing with any less respect than if you were say, writing an article for a newspaper column or for a magazine.

I am sure that I would be absolutely on the money if I were to assume that articles of this nature would be checked, several times to ensure that the spelling was correct or, that the links actually worked, or that the language that you used was grammatically correct.

I know and understand that common sense is in really short supply these days (if not altogether a rare commodity) but logic should tell you that, at the very least, the article or post should be read over again, at least once.

For me, often the thoughts and ideas come at me in bits and pieces and usually over a period of time.  Additionally ideas ‘pop-up’ while I am busy writing and rather than lose the momentum, I jot them down either on the page (if I am writing by hand) or on the screen page (if I am writing directly onto the computer).  This, of course means that the piece will not flow. The sentences will not be in the right order and arguments, discussions or even points to ponder, will seem stilted, all over the place and not always make any kind of sense (except to me of course).

Obviously, I have to go back and put everything where it should be or change things around so that the story unfolds correctly.

There are times too, when perhaps an explanation needs to be expanded to make the point clearer or additional material needs to be added to make the piece complete.

Often it is only by the fourth or fifth reading that I am satisfied with the ‘unfolding’ of the story and then, although I usually correct spelling mistakes as I go along, I read it again to check for any more spelling mistakes or grammatical errors.

After this comes what I call the ‘audience test’.  Here’s the thing – reading something quietly in your mind is not the same as reading it out loud, to a captive audience, where you pause at the required moment to add emphasis to what you are saying and put all the correct inflections on the words as you say them.

Forget for a moment  that my ‘captive audience’ is usually my cat, who may or may not be fast asleep on the couch in my office – there are usually a few more changes to be make at this point.  Changes made, the cat gets to hear it all over again and once the words roll off my tongue, without pause to correct or add something else, and the meaning is clear, then and only then, is the piece complete and ready for posting.

Think about it for a moment – you want people to take the time to read and understand what it is that you have written – not so?  Then it stands to reason that you should take the time and trouble to make that reading experience an enjoyable one.

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