Friday, September 22, 2017

HR 101 - What to do When . . . You Want To Suspend an Employee

HR 101 - WHAT TO DO WHEN . . . . You Want To Suspend an Employee?

By Nikki Viljoen – N Viljoen Consulting CC.

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

Firstly, let us understand when and employee can be suspended.

Usually (but not always, so be careful here) and employee is suspended during pre-disciplinary investigations or pending the outcome of a disciplinary action.  I would like to make it quite clear here though that the reason(s) for suspension should be documented and controlled by the terms and conditions of the Employment Contract or Letter of Appointment or the Company’s Disciplinary Procedures or The Company’s detailed suspension policies.

Suspensions can, and often do cause a huge amount of problems, so you really need to make sure that you are suspending the employee for the right reasons.

Issues that need to be taken into account when suspending an employee are, but not limited to:
- the need for the suspension
- the duration of the suspension
- prejudice suffered by the employee
- demands for disclosure of information
- constructive dismissal claims lodged due to resignation during lengthy suspensions etc.

Let’s go to my favorite protagonists for the type of situation that can arise.

Mike is our Business Owner.  He has a retail store that sells cell phones and accessories.  George is the Manager of the store in question and as such he is the sole key holder.  Stock has been, steadily but surely going missing on a monthly basis.  There are 4 staff members in the store and since clients do not have direct access to stock, it can only be one of the employees.

Mike has requested and received a printout of ‘activity’ from the security company.  This evidences when the store ‘opens’ and ‘closes’ and also if the store has been entered after hours.  Mike notices that at least once a week, the store is ‘opened at’ around 10pm and then ‘closed’ again at around 10.10pm.  Since George was the only one with store keys and the alarm codes, it was a reasonable assumption for George to be considered the ‘guilty’ party.

This hearing was scheduled to last for five days.

George insisted that he wanted his attorney Alex to represent him.

Alex could only be available for the 5 days over a 3 month period.  This of course, was not practical and unacceptable and George was given various options in order for the hearing to be expedited.  George was offered, (amongst other things) a 4 day postponement in order for him to find an alternative attorney and he was also offered the option to have the hearing held over the 3 month period on the condition that the suspension would be unpaid.  George declined all the alternative offers and the hearing proceeded without him being represented by an attorney.

In this instance it would have been ‘unfair’ to expect Mike to pay for 3 months suspension because it was George’s insistence to have a particular attorney represent him and also because George declined all other offers made by Mike

Be careful though as an employer, not to insist on non-payment for all postponements requested by an accused employee.  Not all instances will be regarded as procedurally fair.  Each case must be judged on its own merits.

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

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Sales 101 - Understanding the Client's Requests

SALES 101 - Understanding the Client’s Requests

By Nikki Viljoen – Viljoen Consulting CC  October 2009.

Perception, or perhaps I should say the wrong perception often results in a client’s or prospective client’s unfulfilled expectation and that I’m afraid to say will result in either the loss of the sale and in the extreme – the loss of the client.  Neither of these instances will serve any kind of purpose for you.

So it makes sense for you to take the time and the trouble to ensure that you know and understand the basics and essence of your client or prospective client’s expectation.

It is often a good idea to have a standard set of responses to normal questions that may be asked. This will help you to respond instinctively, naturally and with conviction and which will also give your client or prospective client assurance that you do indeed know what it is that you are talking about.

For example, should your client ask you to ‘send some information’ you may very well respond by saying something like ‘there is a huge amount of information – is there something specific that you are wanting to know or could I give you a breakdown of each area/division/subject/product and then you can tell me which one you are interested in?”

Having all the information pertaining to all the different aspects of your business, close at hand is great, but being able to relay that information eloquently, smoothly and without any hesitation, will not only boost your own confidence, it will also boost the confidence of the client and/or the prospective client that may be wanting to do business with you.

You come across confident, your responses are quick and to the point and easy to understand, it sounds like you know exactly what it is that you are talking about and this will usually translate into ‘You know what it is that you are doing’ or ‘You are passionate about your business and your are competent in what you do.”  That usually translates into a sale and probably a client for life!

Understanding your client’s expectation certainly goes a long way in the right direction when building a relationship with a client or prospective client.  Meeting that expectation will elevate your credibility on a personal level and the credibility of your company.

So clearly it is in your own best interests, not only to take the time and trouble to understand exactly what your client wants and what your client expects, but then to deliver that expectation, on time, in the manner in which you promised and professionally.  Not only will your client come back time after time, but they will usually bring more business to you as well.

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

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Networking 101 - Be Prepared to Listen

NETWORKING 101 - Be Prepared to Listen

By Nikki Viljoen of N Viljoen Consulting CC

My late friend Geraldine Bunting from Cheyenne Financial Services always told me that one of the things that her mother  used to say is “There is a reason that God gave us two ears and one mouth!”

Frankly, I agree – we don’t listen enough.  We are so busy, thinking about a clever thing to say in response to something that someone has said, that we don’t listen to all of what the other person is trying to say and yet conversely we become offended if someone doesn’t listen to what we have to say.

I am always reminded of an incident that happened to me at the garage.  The petrol attendant asked me 3 times whether I wanted unleaded or leaded and each time, when I answered him, he was so busy talking to his mate that he didn’t listen – the result of course, is that he put the wrong petrol into my car.  When I pointed this out to him, he immediately stopped the incorrect petrol pump and started putting the correct petrol into the tank.  When it came time to pay, I was presented with a bill for xx amount of litres of leaded petrol and yy amount of litres of unleaded petrol – I refused to pay for the leaded petrol.  The Manager entered the debate and tried to insist that I pay for the leaded petrol as “it was already in my tank” – I refused and invited him to remove it from the tank as I had neither asked for it and nor did I want it – in fact, I requested his name and contact details, because  if anything untoward happened to my car, as a result of the wrong fuel being put into the car, I would be holding him personally responsible.

In this instance, not only did the petrol attendant not listen to the instruction, but when the result of this could have cost the garage money – suddenly it became my problem!  How bizarre!  Anyone who knows me though, knows that I did not pay for the leaded petrol – in my opinion, the petrol attendant and the garage needed to be responsible for their own shortcomings – but that is another story for another day.

The point that I am trying to make is that there is usually a consequence for not listening and when you are in a networking environment this is usually the loss of a lead, loss of a sale and invariably – loss of a client!

A bit harsh, you may think!  But think about it logically for a moment.  Let’s say you are telling someone who you are and what it is that you are doing – he on the other hand, whilst appearing to be very interested in what you are saying, is watching the nubile young waitress who is serving a table nearby and clearly by following his glance and the glazed look in his eyes, he is not paying attention.  He sells motor vehicles.  At the same meeting, there is another chap who also sells motor vehicles.  He on the other hand not only listens carefully to what you are saying, but also takes notes and asks pertinent questions and really tries to understand what you are all about.

The very next day, your friend Geraldine Bunting is looking for a car, but wants to talk to someone who is not going to rip her off and who will tell her the truth – which of the two guys above are you going to refer her to – for me it’s a ‘no brainer’!

In my opinion, there is a consequence, each and every time that you do not listen – the question remains however, whether you are prepared to bear that consequence or not.

It’s a conscious decision that only you can make!

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

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Business Tips - From Employee to Entrepreneur - Part 2

BUSINESS TIPS – From Employee to Entrepreneur – Part 2

By Nikki Viljoen – Viljoen Consulting CC – March 2012

Last time we looked at some of the basic differences between an employee and an entrepreneur.

Now let’s have a look at some of the issues that you will have to explore and questions that you will have to ask yourself and answer honestly as you travel on your path to becoming a successful entrepreneur.

1. Purpose
What is your purpose? I have no doubt that on some level we all understand that we are not only here on this planet called earth, merely to survive during our time here. We all have a purpose in life (whether we actually know what it is or not) and knowing what that purpose is and aligning it to what we want to do, will ensure that we achieve what we want to with a minimum of fuss and bother.

Understanding our purpose and aligning it to what we do will also ensure that we are able to live the best life that we can and become all that we are capable of being.

No one ‘life purpose’ is better or worse than another and our own success will be attained by being all that we can be rather than all that others think we should be.

2. People
Like it or not we are all here to serve people.  Whether those people are our customers or our staff or our suppliers or our families, the fact of the matter is that we all need to serve and be served.

We are no better than those that serve than we are less than those that we serve.  The more we serve, the greater our reward will be and the greater we will become as individuals.

I’ll say it again – we serve!  Get your head around it, get used to it, get good at it and get on with it.
3. Personal Footprint
Let’s face it – there are all kinds of characters in the world of business.  Some are grumpy, some are sunny, some are introvert and some are extrovert.  The point that I am trying to make is that your success, as an entrepreneur is not dependent upon that particular part of yourself.  Your success is dependent upon your credibility as an individual.  It’s dependent upon whether you can deliver and/or whether you are honest in your dealings with people.  It is dependent upon who you are intrinsically as a person.

Let me ask you this question (and please answer yourselves honestly), if you were in the market of looking for a mentor – someone you would look up to or aspire to be – would you look at yourself as being that person?  If your honest answer to that is “NO”, well I guess that you know what your personal footprint will be.

Next time we will have a look at some more of the issues that you as an entrepreneur should be looking at.

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

Monday, September 18, 2017

Motivation - The Powerful Person


By Nikki Viljoen of N Viljoen Consulting CC

The quote today comes from Lao Tzu who says, “He who gains a victory over other men is strong; but he who gains a victory over himself is all powerful.”

I recently heard a woman, who was being beaten by her husband say something along the lines of, he says ‘I force him to hit me because of the way that I speak, act, dress, walk (insert anything you like here)’.  Not only am I amazed at how influential this woman is (and the many thousands like her) over her man – that she can make him lose control!  I mean really!  I asked her how she managed to do that – did she hold a loaded gun to him head and tell him he had to hit her, now?  Did she stand with a knife held to his throat and say that she was going to ‘gut him like an animal’ unless he raised his hand and beat her senseless?

Don’t be daft!  This is a man who thinks that because he is physically stronger than her, he can control her actions or vent his frustrations, by beating her up!  Yes this man has gained a physical (and often a mental one too) victory over her – but nothing else!  He hasn’t shown me that he is a man.  In fact quite the opposite – he has proved himself to be a bully of note.  So ok, now he has proved that he is strong – and now what?

What perhaps would have impressed me is if he had controlled his temper and his emotions to such an extent that he just walked away!  Now that would have made him a powerful man, in my opinion!

What are you in your personal life and in your professional life?  Are you a strong person or are you a powerful person?  Perhaps the question should be, which would you like to be – a strong person or a powerful person?

I know which one would be the most comfortable one for me to live with – do you?

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

Friday, September 15, 2017

HR 101 - What to do When . . . You Want to Retire Staff

HR 101 – What to do when . . . . You Want To Retire Staff?

By Nikki Viljoen – N Viljoen Consulting CC.

Please note that this pertains to South Africa Labour Relations & Best Practice requirements.

The Basic Conditions of Employment Act (BCEA) stipulates that each employment contract should stipulate the age of retirement.

The problem of course arises when employers have not given employees Letters of Employment, or worse – they have issued Letters of Employment, but the letter does not stipulate the retirement age.

This of course is where things usually go pear shaped! You see the generally accepted age is 60 or 65 years and if nothing is stipulated in the Letter of Appointment you cannot suddenly retire someone at, say aged 55.

Once your Letters of Appointment have gone out to staff (with or without the relevant retirement age), you now cannot all of a sudden decide that you want to make the retirement age 57.

This now has to become a negotiation or at the very least, a consultation with your staff in order to reach a consensus.

Should you decide on your own, what age you wish for them to retire, this will be considered a ‘unilateral amendment of employment conditions’ and your employees then would have the right to either refuse the age or comply with forced retirement at the age that you have decided upon.

That said, as an employer you do have the right to enforce a formal retirement age, at a certain stage, even if this has not been done consistently in the past, as long as you go the necessary consultation or negotiation course with your staff.

If, for example the employer has not indicated the retirement age at say 60, then after a negotiation process the retirement age is fixed at 60, the employer now cannot go and ‘retire’ all of those employees who are already 60 and over.  This would be seen as ‘unfair’ dismissal.  What would need to occur is that the retirement age of 60 would need to be phased in over a period of say two years.  This would give the affected employees time to sort their lives out and plan for their retirement.

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

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Sales 101 - Increasing the Number of Units Sold

SALES 101 – Increasing the Number of Units Sold

By Nikki Viljoen – Viljoen Consulting CC  January 2010.

Over the last two weeks we have looked at the how to increase the number of your clients as well as how to increase the frequency of the sale.  Today we are going to deal with increasing the number of units sold.

Now logic must tell you that by merely increasing the number of customers and increasing the frequency of the sales, you will automatically increase the number of units that you have sold.

Understanding how to add value to this equation will mean that you will also increase the number of units sold even more.  Think about it for a moment – if you have say 100 new clients, that’s 100 more sales, but if your product or service requires that they are used more frequently, say every two weeks, instead of once a month, that means that you have  200 more sales.  Now add to that a product or service that can be used in conjunction with another product or service and now suddenly you have 400 sales.

Obviously the more value that you add to the deal, the more units per sale you will sell.  How cool is that, and how perfectly simple too.

Actually the beauty of this is several fold – you see you are not only adding value to you customer, but you are also building a strong sustainable relationship with that customer and in building the relationship you are also building customer loyalty.

Finally, don’t forget that you need to see real results in order to measure your success.  So start with what you actually know about your customers,  add your market research to that and you will have a winning formula.  The more relevant customer-focused type information your have on your clients, the better your platform for generating new clients, retaining current and ‘old’ clients and generating more sales.

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