Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Busienss Tips - Social Media - What Gives?

BUSINESS TIPS – Social Media – What Gives?

By Nikki Viljoen – Viljoen Consulting CC

Many of my clients seem  to be tearing their hair out because of staff taking time away from their designated jobs to ‘play’ on the social media sites or incessantly chat on their cell phones.

Twenty years ago Social Media was simply the radio or television and was relatively harmless to business – I mean it was quite easy to ensure that staff were not glued to the TV or the radio.  With the introduction of WWW (World Wide Web) and the internet however, things have changed drastically and currently employers are bearing the brunt of it.

Today we have all sorts of distractions such as (but not limited to) Facebook and Twitter and don’t forget BBM (Blackberry Messenger)!  According to an article written by Jan Du Toit entitled “Social Media: Guidelines on the policy for employees using social media for non-business purposes”, employees spend as much as 79% of their business day, playing on social networking and gaming sites. Never mind the work that doesn’t get done, there is also the cost of the resource that the company will ultimately be responsible for.  Just how long can any company, regardless of its’ size, continue doing business under these circumstances – my guess is not very long at all.

There have also been reported incidents where employees have been dismissed because of how they have disparaged bosses or colleagues or clients, publically – what kind of damage does that do to the reputation of the company as well as the individual?  Yes, technology has advanced us as a species into a wonderful world, where there is so much to explore and learn – sadly, it has also caused huge problems in terms of the way that it is being abused by individuals who have no control over their own actions and who are addicted to the games or the interaction.  Sadly many of us find that are lives are now governed by gadgets.

It is obvious, that in order for SME’s (small, medium enterprises) as well as big corporate companies, to survive the technical revolution, certain measures need to be implemented to ensure that staff spend their work time actually working and not playing in their personal capacities.  Enter the Social Media Policy.  This will set clear guidelines to ensure that staff do not abuse company resources and provide clear definitions between what is and isn’t allowed.

Here are some of the types of  issues that would need to be addressed:

If the employee is using media sites for business purposes, they must be aware of and clear on (but not limited to):

- Which social media sites can be used and when.
- The legality of postings and whether they are ethical or disrespectful and disparaging.
- The company’s confidentiality policy should not be breeched, this should include the personal details of management, colleagues and even clients and suppliers.
- Company details and information should be correctly disclosed, and only the official company logo should be used.
- In terms of compliance or legislation, it is also a good idea to ensure that all copyright laws are adhered to.
- Media type statements and public postings should always first be cleared by the employer or their designate.

For employees using the internet, social media (including cell phones and IM {instant messages applications}), they should be (but not limited to).

- Company policy on the use of company equipment as well as what social sites can be used and when
- Company confidentiality policy must not be breeched in any way, so company information must be kept safe
- The company code of conduct should be upheld
- Employees should only post in their personal capacities and not on ‘behalf of’ the company, their colleagues, clients or service providers and suppliers.
- Usage of cellphones should also be included here.

Furthermore, employees should be made aware of the consequences, should they fail to comply with the policy and a reminder that internet and e-mail and in the case of company cell phones, usage can and will be monitored.

It’s also a good idea to include this on the letter/contract of appointment, making sure that employees understand that when they sign their letters/contract, they also give employers permission to monitor the internet/e-mail/cell phone usage of the employer.

Please contact Nikki, if you require assistance with this policy or any other policies/procedures/templates that you may require.

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, July 10, 2017

Motivation - The Mind


By Nikki Viljoen of Viljoen Consulting

Today’s quote comes from Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. who says “Man's mind, once stretched by a new idea, never regains its original dimensions.”

Powerful words these, and certainly ones that I can relate to – actually they produced an “inside my head” type video and that I found quite delightful.

I don’t think I would like my mind to shrink back to it’s original dimensions as it would no doubt squash whatever epiphany I had just had, back out and it would then probably then be lost forever – what a sad thought!

Mostly though, once we have a new idea, it is generally followed by yet another new idea – how cool is that!  All you need to do is go with the flow and pretty soon you will be spouting new ideas like they are going out of fashion.

Sadly though, most people, once they have a new idea, take the decision to go no further.  So that is as far as they get and yet there is a world of opportunity out there for all of us to share.  All we need to do is open our eyes and our minds to the possibilities and they will appear before us.

So let me ask the question – what do you do when you’ve had a new idea?

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

Friday, July 07, 2017

HR 101 - WHAT TO DO WHEN . . . . You Want To Dismiss Staff - Part 3

HR 101 - WHAT TO DO WHEN . . . . You Want To Dismiss Staff - Part 3

By Nikki Viljoen – N Viljoen Consulting CC.

As usual, our protagonists are standing by to make this journey just that little bit more understandable.  We have Mike the Business Owner and George the worker.

Let’s give ourselves a little bit of a story, so that we can understand the finer details.

This particular incident is going to be one of Misconduct.

Mike owns a string of retail stores, with most of them being in the bigger malls.  George is one of the workers in the warehouse.  George has been with the company for 5 years.  Mike has a warehouse in Johannesburg and the stock that is required by the stores is disbursed from the main warehouse in Johannesburg.

Mike has a reward program in place, whereby staff do not get bonuses as a 13th cheque, but rather a profit share as a percentage, based, not on turnover, but on net profit.  In this way the expenses and shrinkage are kept to a bare minimum, by the staff themselves, as they obviously want to share in the highest obtainable profits.

George was caught stealing by another warehouse worker, let’s call him Simon.  Simon, justifiably angry (remember George’s stealing has a direct negative effect on Simon’s bonus), states that he is going to report the incident to the Warehouse Manager, let’s call him Andrew.  George also gets angry and punches Simon in the face, breaking his nose and his jaw.

Mike has a proper set of procedures in place including a ‘Code of Conduct’ and since he has been in business many precedents have been set.  The Procedure Manual is readily and easily available to all staff members and in fact as and when procedures are updated and new ones introduced – the procedures are circulated to all the staff members who sign evidencing that they have not only read but also understand the procedures.

Most of the staff, certainly those that have been employed over a long period of time know and understand that that ‘theft’ is a dismissible offence as is ‘striking’ another employee.  The staff understands the limits and those same limits are documented in the ‘Code of Conduct’.

George is advised, in writing, that he is to make himself available for a disciplinary hearing and that the charges are ‘Gross Misconduct, in that he removed Company  Property from the premises without the required approvals and documentation and that he struck a fellow worker, breaking both his nose and his jawbone.”

This is not the first time that George has been in trouble at work and Andrew has had to both counsel and discipline George on several smaller infractions.  A full documented record is available in George’s Personnel File and it is clear that Andrew has tried, on countless occasions to get George to change both his attitude and his self destructive behavior.

You see George has a really aggressive nature and a terrible temper and there have been occasions where George has sworn at fellow workers and other incidents where George has either pushed or shoved other workers.

George has quite a history!

In view of the fact that most of the other incidents were of a minor nature, George was counseled regarding his behaviour and he has fully understood that his attitude needed to change in order for his behaviour to change, but George has not heeded any of the advice and despite being on a Final Written Warning, he has now committed a really serious offence that carries a ‘dismissal’ action.

George still has to be taken through the whole disciplinary procedure though, he cannot just be dismissed out of hand.  The disciplinary procedure itself must still be ‘fair’ and should be chaired by an ‘impartial’ person and evidence needs to be presented and the testimony of witnesses from both sides still needs to be heard, collaborated upon and carefully weighed before any kind of judgment is made.  In this case however, in all probability George may also face criminal charges of ‘aggravated assault”, as well.

George’s situation, at best is precarious.

Next week we will look at the Disciplinary Procedures relating to dismissal for misconduct.

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

Thursday, July 06, 2017

Sales 101 - Timing is Key

SALES – Timing is Key

By Nikki Viljoen – Viljoen Consulting CC

I am sure that you have all experienced the sale that you really, really push for.  You are geared up and excited.  Everything seems to be going in the right direction and then  . . . . . . nothing.  You cannot seem to close the deal.  You cannot seem to get hold of anyone who can make a decision.  Everything spirals downwards and the whole bloody thing goes pear shaped.  You’re left sitting there wondering what the hell happened!

You go back to the beginning and analyze everything that you did, what was said, by whom and when and in all honesty you cannot for the life of you see what went wrong, where it went wrong, and why it went wrong.

Relax!  Chances are that it has nothing to do with you anyway but that it is a timing thing.  It happens to me all the time – it’s almost like I am ‘before my own time’ if that makes any sense.  Go back to them in a few months time, pitch it again and watch the whole concept fall on very fertile ground.  Most of the time it will seem as though you have pitched an entirely new concept, one that they have never even heard before.  It’s quite extraordinary.

Here’s the thing though – you need to stay in touch. Continue to build the relationship.  Continue to add value to the potential client.  Remain focused. Be consistent and be persistent and believe me it will pay you big dividends in the long run.

It’s just a matter of time.

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, July 05, 2017

Networking 101 - Networking with Purpose

Networking 101 - Networking with Purpose

By Nikki Viljoen of N Viljoen Consulting CC

I was asked the other day, “what my purpose is” when I network. I must confess that I was a little confused by the question, until I realized that I was being asked the question by someone who is used to a completely different style of networking to the one that I tend to engage in.

You see for him networking was usually done as an entertaining social sort of thing, where people chatted genteelly around a table with a cup of tea in one hand and a sticky bun of sorts in the other. Where people smiled politely at one another and made small talk about the weather, the cricket/rugby/soccer, the latest fashion and who was doing what to whom on a regular basis.

This kind of ‘networking’ for me is quite simply, ‘a no go’. You see I am in the Business of Business to make a profit, making money is easy, but making a profit – well that is an entirely different thing altogether (but that is another story for another time). In order for me to make a profit, I need to grow my business – slowly but surely, one step at a time.

For me to grow my business, I need to look for opportunities, and believe me there are an abundance of them all around, it’s just a question of recognizing them and then doing something with them.

For me, the easiest way to search for opportunities, is at a networking event, where people are serious about doing business and who are hungry to find opportunities.

So for me, understanding my purpose for being at a specific type of networking meeting, is of the utmost importance.

Therefore the purpose for me attending a networking meeting is to meet people, and build relationships with them. It is to search for opportunities, whether they are for me as an individual, or a possible Joint Venture, or a Strategic Alliance, or even to see an opportunity for a business colleague and/or friend and/or client.

These opportunities and relationships, will allow me to grow my own business, and provide a ‘value add’ to both my clients and my colleagues.

For me, this is a win, win & win again situation.

So now, what was the question again . . . . . .

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

Tuesday, July 04, 2017

Business Tips - Be Careful What You Click On

BUSINESS TIPS – Be Careful What You Click On

By Nikki Viljoen – Viljoen Consulting CC

One of the things that I always try and engrave on the minds of all the delegates who go through my workshops is that it is important to have all your contracts in place.  Contracts between you and your partners and contracts between you and your suppliers, contracts between you and your clients and, for goodness sake contracts between you and your staff.  Contracts are really important.  But what does the word ‘contract’ conjure up for you?  For me it conjures up pages and pages of legalese, most of which I  cannot understand and probably need a whole week to go through, line by line, in order to understand exactly what the terms and conditions contained therein mean.

We’ve all been caught, I’m sure – by the unscrupulous retailers and service providers that have ‘something’ on the reverse of their invoices.  You know which ones I mean – where the writing is so small and squished together that you need a magnifying glass to read it.  They are the people, when you query something, who puff themselves up and sarcastically remind you that you accepted said terms and conditions when you accepted the invoice and then very importantly fax/e-mail you the front of the invoice/document that says something along the lines of “when you accept this invoice/document you agree to all the terms and conditions on the reverse of said document”.  Of course they never send you the reverse of the document and usually the end result (because it’s too much bother to fight the system) is that you just give up!

But what about electronic signatures?  What about when we ‘click’ on that button that says agree/disagree with the terms and conditions?  I mean really, do any of us even think about what that means?  Can anybody hold me legally liable because I clicked on a button?

Well here’s the thing – yes they can!  So if you click on the button to say that you are over 18 and yes you can go into that particular site – you know the one that your mother and father would be horrified if they knew you were going in there – you can be held accountable!  And no, it’s no good glaring at me – this is according to the ‘Electronic Communications and Transactions Act 2002’, which of course means that it is the law that says so!

In effect the Act says that information cannot be considered ‘without legal force’ just because all of it of even some of it is in the form of a data message.

You see, a ‘data message’ is something that is generated and/or sent and/or received and/or stored and/or archived electronically and if they can be accessed or used for reference, then they are recognized by law as legal.  Anything that can be printed or saved, fills the requirements and that of course includes Web-pages and e-mails and their attachments.  Electronic data, nowadays is in fact seen as the same as paper documents.  Therefore they are considered to be legal.

The Act also says “an electronic signature is not without legal force and effect merely on the grounds that it is in electronic form.”  This means that whilst a physical signature is used to make a contract binding an electronic signature that can be used to identify a specific person and that indicates their approval and/or acceptance of the electronic information, and it is therefore considered  a ‘signature’.

It actually goes even one step further because if you reach an agreement on say e-mail for example – that agreement will be considered legal and binding at the time and the place where the offer/agreement was accepted and our e-mails are pretty much ‘date and time stamped’.

Clearly that means that when you click on the required spot or you agree to ‘terms and conditions’ on a website, you are committing yourself to a legal and binding contract, which in terms of South African law, can be enforced.

Be careful where you click people!

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, July 03, 2017

Motivation - The Opportunity to Begin Again

MOTIVATION –  The Opportunity To Begin Again

By Nikki Viljoen of N Viljoen Consulting CC

Henry Ford says “Failure is the opportunity to begin again, more intelligently.”

What an incredible opportunity to change our mindsets!  What an incredible opportunity to look at the world through different eyes.  What an incredible opportunity to make a choice, to stop beating ourselves up, to pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, learn the lesson and move on with renewed energy, a lot of insight and a smile of optimism on our faces.  I surely do like it!

Most of us look at failure in a really negative light.  In this country, we are so programmed to be successful that failure of any kind has a really bad stigma attached to it.  People look at someone who has failed as though they have some sort of contagious disease and who should be avoided at all costs.

Yet the fact of the matter is that we all fail on a daily basis.  The reality is that are not born perfect and that we have to learn.  The challenge here though, is that we need to learn from our mistakes and not repeat the same mistake over and over again.

Then of course is the myth that many people have, that ‘opportunities’ never come their way!  What a load of hooey! Yes of course opportunities can come your way (or not) but the other reality is that you can make your own opportunity.  Our thoughts can become our realities if we put in the right ingredients and that of course is the ‘action’.  Even those opportunities that fall out of the sky like manna from heaven, still need to be actioned.  Without action they remain . . .  well opportunities.

I am often amazed at the reaction of individuals who sit around and bemoan their fate, nothing works for them, everybody hates them, none of their ideas or their schemes take off, Networking doesn’t work for them and they wait for something to happen, something to rescue them and nothing does!  Well, quite frankly – what on earth did they expect?  The miracle that is, is life (and even that required an action), for everything else we have to get up off our rear ends and do something about it!

Simple, isn’t it?  So when you fail and fall down – stop crying and moaning and waiting for an angel to come and rescue you.  Think about what you have done that got you there in the first place, make adjustments to what caused the problem, pick yourself up, dust yourself off and get going – find the opportunity and then do something (albeit different) about it.

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