Friday, September 21, 2018

HR 101 – What to do When . . . Your Staff Member Steals From You

HR 101 – What to do When . . .  Your Staff Member Steals From You

By Nikki Viljoen – N Viljoen Consulting (Pty) Ltd

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

Did you know that there are certain circumstances, when you can actually get remuneration from an employee’s pension payout, when they steal from you?  I must admit that until I did the research, I didn’t know that!  Here’s the story.

Mike owns a retail store in a busy mall and George is one of his salespersons.  Mike has been noticing that stock is slowly but surely going missing and his level of shrinkage is growing month by month.  Mike implements added procedures such as daily stock counts in an effort to sort the problem out.  As luck would have it, Mike catches George red handed (so to speak) as Mike watches, he sees George hide an expensive tie inside of his shirt and then walk out of the door to be met by someone down the corridor.  Mike follows at a discreet distance and watches as George removes the tie from his shirt and hands it to the other fellow.  As the fellow hands George money, Mike makes his presence known and catches George before he can run.

George is embarrassed at being caught and admits to have been stealing for a long time. Under Mike’s watchful eye, George writes out the incident report about ‘how’ he stole the tie.  Mike calls in the police and again insists that George make a statement about what he has stolen and George admits to stealing stock to the value of around R20 000 – this is documented.  Once the statement has been written, signed and witnessed, Mike gets a certified copy and is given a case number. 

Mike then holds a disciplinary in ‘Abstentia’ (remember George is locked up), George is found guilty of theft and dishonesty and he is dismissed.  Although George in this instance is not entitled to notice pay, he is still entitled to any leave that may be owing to him and also there is his pension fund. Mike pays  all the outstanding leave pay and monthly pay (up to and including the last day that George worked for the month) into George’s account and notifies the Pension Fund administrators that George is no longer employed by the company and that they should calculate his pension payout.

Mike also advises the Pension Fund Administrators that George has been dishonest and that he has admitted to theft and gives them a copy of the admission of guilt.  The Pension Fund Administrators are obliged to give Mike R20 000 out of George’s pension payout, prior to them paying the balance out to George.

Mike has followed the correct procedures.

The law you see, is actually quite fair as long as the correct procedures are followed.

Be aware though that had Mike not ‘driven the process’ himself, the Administrators would not have just automatically paid him out, out of George’s pension payout – Mike had to advise them that this is what he was entitled to and give them the documentary evidence that they required.

Please make sure though that you have a signed copy of admission from the employee, stating that they have been dishonest, or that they have stolen, or that they have committed fraud or that the loss experienced by the company was as a direct result of their ‘misconduct’.  Make sure that you get some sort of value on what has been ‘lost’ or that there is a judgment against them for the loss that you have incurred.

Don’t try and do this if the charge against the employee is merely one of ‘negligence’ – there has to be an actual loss and the loss has to be a result of dishonesty and oh yes, an unsigned e-mail or an ‘SMS’ is not sufficient proof.  Make sure that you get the errant employee’s signature on the document and make sure that they have admitted to the theft/fraud.  This will ensure that their ‘intent’ was clear and that you then get your money back.

Nikki is an Internal Auditor and Business Administration Specialist who can be contacted on 083 702 8849 or nikki@viljoenconsulting.co.za or http://www.viljoenconsulting.co.za


Thursday, September 20, 2018

Blogging 101 - Your Writing Style

Blogging 101 – Your Writing Style

By Nikki Viljoen – Viljoen Consulting (Pty) Ltd

As many of you know, I am an avid reader.  I have this insatiable need to learn and reading keeps that particular monster fed and at bay.  Over the years though, I have certainly become more of a discerning reader and obviously tend to look at articles that are of particular interest to me.

I am not for example, going to be reading about IT hardware (or software for that matter) – I don’t understand the terminology and would probably have more fun watching paint dry.  So how do I choose what I read?

First and foremost, the title would have to grab my attention and then the content would have to be not only interesting, but in my case it needs to make me ‘see’ the picture.

If my imagination is not captured within the first few paragraphs, I move on!  It’s that simple.

As I have often said before, it’s all in the telling of the story and if that is not told in an interesting way or if I don’t find it exciting or funny, well then it’s not likely to hold my attention.

For me the easiest way to write is to tell the story in exactly the same manner as I would if I were chatting to a friend or even a client. Using simple words I create the picture or vision, if you will, in the mind of the listener.

Remember, in this instance, your listener becomes your reader and you have to keep them engaged by ensuring that the tale you tell is interesting and insightful from the get-go.

Keep it short, keep it sweet and keep it interesting!

Nikki is an Internal Auditor and Business Administration Specialist who can be contacted on 083 702 8849 or nikki@viljoenconsulting.co.za or http://www.viljoenconsulting.co.za

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Networking 101 - Be Proactive

Networking 101 – Be Proactive

By Nikki Viljoen of N Viljoen Consulting (Pty) Ltd

Now I know that being a small business owner means that you are all over the place.  You’re the salesman, the administration manager, the operations manager, the HR manager and even, amongst other things, the tea lady on occasion!

Believe me, I really get it when you tell me that you are so busy doing all that needs to be done, in your business – what with trying to hold your head above water, and trying to make good on the promises that you have made to your clients, that there just is no time (or inclination for that matter) to go beyond what you are already doing to be proactive.

Some would say that “as a micro business owner you don’t actually want or need to be proactive, you want to be reactive”!  It seems that “being proactive requires far more work than being reactive and it is therefore both impossible and completely unnecessary to do anything more than meticulously deliver on your promises.”

Well maybe, but then I wonder what excuse you will give to the tax man when he comes a-calling and you are not properly registered, or the Department of Labour, when you have not submitted what needs to be done?  I can assure you neither could give a damn whether you want to be proactive or reactive.

How about new clients – would you rather be proactive or reactive when you are looking for new clients?  I tell you what, why don’t you just sit and look at the telephone and hope that it will ring and then you can snatch it up and answer it – well that’s being reactive isn’t it?

Or you could go out and network, build up a data base, build relationships with the people you connect with at the meetings, whether they need your services or not, and then when they refer you to someone in their data base, who has a huge amount of work for you, you can smile about exactly how proactive you were.

I don’t know about you, but I certainly think that the extra effort and work is worthwhile in the end, especially when I look at my bank balance.

What about you?  Are you ‘reactive’ or ‘proactive’?  Which one works best for you?

Nikki is an Internal Auditor and Business Administration Specialist who can be contacted on 083 702 8849 or nikki@viljoenconsulting.co.za

Business Tips - Being Your Own Boss – Part 12

Business Tips - Being Your Own Boss – Part 12

By Nikki Viljoen – Viljoen Consulting (Pty) Ltd

So here we are almost at the end of this particular journey.

Many of the institutions that you will engage with, will almost definitely ask you for your business plan.

By taking you on this particular journey in the manner that I have however, means that I have taught you how to create your own business action plan. How cool is that and not nearly as difficult as you thought it may be.

Although not quite the same as a business plan, your business action plan evidences the research that you have done, whilst explaining what your business is all about. It also gives you a step by step, logical chain of events that will ensure that you grow yourself a strong and sustainable business.

Now all that is left for you to do is to document everything you have learnt in this series and your business action plan will be ready to go.

Don’t forget to start off by defining exactly what your business is and what the main benefits are to your clients or target market.

Make sure that your plan is easy to read and understand by demarcating the various sections and keeping them separate from each other. For example, operational and administrative issues are very different and should be kept apart. Don’t forget to include all the legal/legislative requirements as well as your branding, marketing and sales requirements.

The financial aspects of your business are also extremely important and this should include your pricing module as well as cash flow predictions.

Each step of your business action plan should include the next action step that you intend to take in order for you to achieve your goals.

As your business grows, so too should your business action plan. It should evolve and monitor and even be used as a measurement tool to see what has worked, in order for you to continue to grow your business successfully.

Good luck and remember to always have fun!

Nikki is an Internal Auditor and Business Administration Specialist who can be contacted on 083 702 8849 or nikki@viljoenconsulting.co.za or http://www.viljoenconsulting.co.za

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Business Tips – Creating a Successful Team – Part 1

Business Tips – Creating a Successful Team – Part 1

By Nikki Viljoen – Viljoen Consulting (Pty) Ltd

Some of us are better team players than others – I know because I have worked in a team and I have worked on my own, and quite frankly, working on my own, works for me.

That said, there are people out there who cannot work on their own and in order to function properly they need to work as part of a team.  Working in a team, or being part of a team does not necessarily mean that you are not a leader, or that you are not a self starter – in some cases it merely means that you need the camaraderie that is part of being in ‘a team’.

For me it takes a ‘special’ kind of leader to lead a successful team, and it takes a ‘special’ kind of person to be a member of a successful team.  Everybody has their own strengths and weaknesses and it is obviously really important to have people with the right ‘mix’ of personalities to ensure the success of the team.  So how do you go about getting that winning formula?

Here are some of (but not limited to) the issues that need to be covered:

- Clearly you need to ascertain what skills are required for the particular task at hand.  Once those are clearly defined, you will need to source the individuals who have those skills and the only way to do that is to interact with the team. Get to know them, understand how they think.  Learn about what their strengths and weaknesses are so that when you do partner them up together that they compliment one another and not clash with each other.  Not only will this put you in a great position in terms of ‘who is who’ but it will evidence that you are taking a personal interest in them and the perception is then that you ‘care and have their best interests’ at heart.  This is a really positive position to be in.
- In order to get the very best out of your team, it is imperative that you not only know what motivates them, but you also need to know what their individual goals are.  Understanding what drives someone and then being in a position to assist them in achieving those goals, will ensure that everyone in the team pulls in the same direction.
- Whatever you do, don’t be taking anyone or anything for granted.  As in life, people need to be challenged, constantly challenged.  So if it looks like your team is functioning like a dream – don’t leave well enough alone, it will in all probability go southwards – find ways in which to challenge them. Make sure that each challenge is well within the capabilities or potential of each individual and remember that it doesn’t have to be the same challenge for each person – different things challenge different people, so make sure that each  person is challenged in their own particular way.  The trick is to keep everyone interested and motivated and there is nothing like a challenge to do this.
- Be sure that you have analyzed their strengths and weaknesses as once you know what it is that you are dealing with, you are then in a position to strategize and ensure that you make the most of everyone’s strengths and implement measures to ensure that the weaknesses are compensated for.
- Be a mentor.  Coach your team. Guide your team – know exactly what they are doing to ensure that they are always moving towards the common goal. Capitalize on the individual strengths and ensure that as a group these strengths are utilized correctly.  In the areas of weaknesses, if there are no members that are able to compensate for these, then you will have to assist the ‘team’ to overcome the weaknesses.  Understand the difficulty here and motivate them to ‘do better’ or challenge them to work on their weaknesses in order to overcome this problem.  Getting the best out of your team means that you have to put the best of you, into them.

Next week we will continue with some more pointers on how to get the best out of your team.

Nikki is an Internal Auditor and Business Administration Specialist who can be contacted on 083 702 8849 or nikki@viljoenconsulting.co.za or http://www.viljoenconsulting.co.za

Monday, September 17, 2018

Inspiration - Attaining the Impossible

Inspiration  –  Attaining the Impossible

By Nikki Viljoen of N Viljoen Consulting (Pty) Ltd

“Optimists enrich the present, enhance the future, challenge the improbable and attain the impossible” says William Arthur Ward.

What a lovely thought!  Actually what a lovely several thoughts!

I have always believed that I am a ‘realistic optimist’.  I remember sitting in my English Major class in college in the early 70’s and making that statement, in front of the whole class, to the teacher (who I still consider one of my closest friends some 45 years down the line), and her looking at me as though I had ‘lost the plot’ when she said “Exactly what does that mean?”

To be completely fair, I have been asked that very same question many times since then and explained as I will here.

Let me put it this way (and I am going to give my beliefs around South Africa here as an example), I have great faith in South Africa.  I think that we have huge potential to grow as a nation, to join together in making this country the best that it can be.  I believe that if we all work together and all do our bit, that we can eradicate poverty, crime and corruption.  That is the optimist in me talking.  The reality of course is that we may very well grow but that will be a huge climb because unfortunately the fact of the matter is that not all members of the nation will be ‘pulling’ in the same direction. Not all will be working to eradicate poverty because some will be stealing the food/opportunity/ money for education etc. right out of the hands of those poor people.  Not all will be working to eradicate crime and corruption, because many will be actually working very hard in their chosen professions of crime and corruption! That’s the realist in me talking.

So whilst I am very enthusiastic about the potential of the country I am also acutely aware of the challenges that face us all if we are to get it right.

Thing is though, although I am very aware of the challenges, I am also inspired enough to want to do something to make the whole thing work.  I am still prepared to ‘do my bit’ to make a difference and to motivate and perhaps even inspire others to also do their bit, no matter how small or how ‘little’ that bit is, because you see – all the ‘little’ bits will at some point join up to become a ‘big’ bit and that ‘big’ bit will make a huge difference and that ‘huge difference’ will ‘enrich the present, enhance the future, challenge the improbable and attain the impossible’.

As much as the reality is that there will always be those who are pessimistic about the future, the reality is also that the impossible can be obtained, if everyone ‘Chips in’ and does their ‘little’ bit.

Nikki is an Internal Auditor and Business Administration Specialist who can be contacted on 083 702 8849 or nikki@viljoenconsulting.co.za or http://www.viljoenconsulting.co.za

Friday, September 14, 2018

HR 101 – What to do When . . . What Needs To Be On A Medical Certificate

HR 101 – What to do When . . . What Needs To Be On A Medical Certificate

By Nikki Viljoen – N Viljoen Consulting (Pty) Ltd 

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

Let’s bring out the protagonists.

Mike owns a factory and George is one of his workers – George calls in sick on a regular basis and when he comes back to work, he does bring a doctors certificate with him. 

When George has taken sick leave for the 50th day in the same year, Mike starts getting suspicious because George never ‘looks’ sick when he is at work.  Mike starts his investigation by looking at the doctor’s certificates that have been given to him.

In terms of the BCEA (Basic Conditions of Employment Act) a doctor’s certificate must be signed and issued by a ‘registered Medical Practitioner’.  This means that it has to be someone who is ‘certified’ to diagnose and treat patients and who is ‘registered’ with a professional council that has been established by an Act of Parliament.

Here is the other information that must be on the medical certificate.
The name, address, qualification and practice or registration number of the practioner (please note that Mike is entitled to check that this information is correct).
The name of the employee.
The date and time that the employee was examined.
If the doctor actually saw the employee and diagnosed the illness at the time of examination, this should be stipulated on the certificate.  If the doctor did not examine the employee, but has issued the certificate based on what the employee has told them, this should also be stipulated on the certificate.
A description of the illness.  It must be noted here however that if the employee is not prepared to give consent for the illness to be stipulated on the certificate, then the Medical Practioner is entitled to document something along the lines of “my opinion, based on my examination of George Dladla is that he is unfit to work.”
The Medical Practitioner should also state whether the employee is totally ‘unfit to work’ or if the employee is ‘able to perform less strenuous duties’ in their working environment.
The exact period that the patient has been booked off for (this should indicate exactly which date the employee must return to work – so, not George is booked off sick for a week, but rather George ‘will return to work on Monday 20th July 2009.)
The date that the Medical Practioner has issued the Medical Certificate.
The Medical Certificate must be signed  by the Registered Medical Practioner.

In this particular instance, the Certificates that George was bringing to Mike were correct and Mike now has to decide whether he wants to dismiss George due to ill health.  How Mike deals with this situation is another story for another day.

Nikki is an Internal Auditor and Business Administration Specialist who can be contacted on 083 702 8849 or nikki@viljoenconsulting.co.za or http://www.viljoenconsulting.co.za


Thursday, September 13, 2018

Blogging 101 - The What to Do

Blogging 101  – The What To Do

By Nikki Viljoen – Viljoen Consulting (Pty) Ltd

Ok, so here we are.  You know why you need to blog and then what . . . ?  What on earth are you going to write about?  Let’s just face it, many of us have no clue how to write effectively, let alone what to write about.  I know that when I started out, I would often just sit in front of a blank screen and wait – wait for an idea, wait for inspiration – just wait.  It took a while for me to ‘get it’, but with practice it happens a lot faster now and it is a lot easier.

I have collected stacks of material over the last few years and still diligently do.  I read an article that perhaps will spark something in me or light a fire under my rear end – that’s usually what happens.  I have an opinion or it sparks an entirely different idea.  I usually sit with the article in front of me, read it through, think about what the impact that that particular article has/might have/ should have on my life and then a thread starts to form in my mind.  In the beginning the only way that I could describe what happens in my mind is that it starts off as a little leaf blowing around in the breeze.  The breeze becomes a twister and the little leaf becomes a vast quantity of leaves all going round and round in my mind until I have to ‘get it out’ (by writing it down) and so quell the storm.  In the beginning this could take days – with a lot of practice, nowadays once I have read through the article it takes me about 15 minutes to write the article – amazing thing that – practice.

Don’t commit yourself to more than you can manage in the beginning.  Even if it means that you write only one article a month or one every two weeks, don’t stress it.  I started off with my Networking Tips on a Wednesday, months later I increased that to include the HR tip on a Friday.  Again, months later I started my Monday Motivation (although it’s usually presented in the form of a challenge) and then the Thursdays (or perhaps it was the Tuesday’s – I forget which now) articles and opportunities presented themselves and it has been just over several years now that I am submitting 5  articles a week.  Don’t get me wrong, there are days when it is incredibly hard to write and to get what I am trying to say in some sort of articulate way.  Other days my fingers fly across the keyboard, barely able to keep up with my thoughts.

I do try and write the articles in advance, so that if there is some sort of problem or if I have an early morning meeting that I do have an article ready for posting.  It’s not always possible though and then I find myself under pressure – not pleasant at all.  So try and not get yourself into a situation where you are running against a clock.  Apart from my commitment to my own blog of an article a day, I also have other writing commitments – I have a bi-monthly column in the Your Business magazine.  These articles obviously take a lot more time as they involve a lot more research and also sometimes have me ‘interviewing’ people – but they are great fun to do.

What I have come to realize though is that I do love to write, it has become a passion and my only regret is that I discovered it very late in my 40’s.  Can you imagine the number of articles that I could have written had I started in my 20’s or even 30’s?  I love the ‘finding’ out about things that I write.  I love that I am making a difference, not only in my life but also in the lives of others.  I love how the words on the pages transform themselves into pictures in my mind.

Nikki is an Internal Auditor and Business Administration Specialist who can be contacted on 083 702 8849 or nikki@viljoenconsulting.co.za or http://www.viljoenconsulting.co.za