Wednesday, June 30, 2010

The Power of Networking - Part 163


PART 163

By Nikki Viljoen of N Viljoen Consulting CC. June 2010

Nothing beats a one-on-one! Okay, this is really important so let me say it again! Nothing beats a one-on-one!

Oh yes, I do know that we are in the middle (or perhaps even the start) of the technological age and that we can e-mail, twitter and instant message. We can video conference and conference call and SKYPE and all the rest, but there is nothing quite like talking to someone in the flesh – up close and personal.

You get the whole picture, the body language, the eye contact, the various tones of the voice – yip – there’s nothing that beats the one-on-one.

Meeting someone for the first time at a networking meeting or event is great, but at those meetings all you will get is a fleeting glimpse of an individual and I, for one, always want to know more about the person that I am dealing with.

I want to know more about who you are and what it is that you do. I want to know more about ‘you’ the person, the individual. I want to know what your dreams are and what you wish for.

I want to know what your challenges are so that I can best understand who to connect you to, in order to assist you with overcoming those challenges.

And you know what . . .? I want you to listen to who I am and what it is that I do. I want you to hear what my dreams are and what my challenges are so that you can connect me with people who can assist me. I want you to hear my dreams and my wishes so that you can also get to know me.

For sure – one-on-one meetings are very important!

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

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

BUSINESS TIPS - Why Twitter - Part 5

BUSINESS TIPS – Why Twitter – Part 5

By Nikki Viljoen – Viljoen Consulting CC June 2010

As promised last week, here are some additional tips on tweeting and the last in this particular series.

Isn’t the electronic age exciting? I know that I am always on about the fact that I am a technophobe, but that is just because I don’t understand the technical jargon – on a logical level though, I do understand what different things can do and that, well that just confuses a lot of IT people who think that they can spin me a yarn and I will just accept it – that very seldom works. I digress – again!

What I am trying to tell you is that technology makes things so much easier and instead of us trying to do everything ourselves, some really clever people have made it possible for us (with the use of links and automation) to do a great number of things with the click on a button. For example, if you sign up for Tweetlater and set it up correctly (ok this is where you can’t ask me the questions as I don’t have a clue how to do this), it will automatically send a thank you message to all of the people as they ‘follow’ you. How clever is that?

The other really cool thing is if you link all of your social networking sites to your twitter account. That way everyone on those sites are linked to you and that will also increase your following as well as increase the traffic that you drive to your website or blog.

Finally, don’t forget to look for a BIG/SUCCESSFUL person who is in the same niche market as yourself. Once you have found them, follow them. The fact that they may be big and/or successful in their own right, doesn’t exclude them from being a potential client of yours. They may be doing research for something that they need to read up on and you may very well have the answer that they are looking for.

Be warned though, you will only be able to follow a maximum of 2000 people, until you have 2000 people following you. Once you have the required 2000 people following you, the sky is the limit.

As always, don’t forget to have fun!

Happy tweeting!

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

Monday, June 28, 2010

MOTIVATION - Powerful Words - Part 2

MOTIVATION – Powerful Words – Part 2

By Nikki Viljoen of N Viljoen Consulting CC – June 2010

Here we are at week two on this particular series – powerful words and how they motivate us. This week we will be looking at a few more and what they can mean in our lives.

This word really resonates with me – you see I often feel completely overwhelmed. Being the person that I am, I often have more than one project on the go. Some are short term, some are medium term and some are really long term. At the moment I am dealing with several really long term projects (the one we estimate will take around 15 years to complete) and there are two which will be on going. These three projects in particular are taking up a huge amount of time now and are not bringing any revenue in, at this moment in time. The result of course is that I find myself really stretched, physically, mentally, emotionally and also financially. On a logical level of course, I know that the long term projects will bring in huge amounts of money at some point down the line (and yes I know exactly what that point is because that is how it has been planned), but that doesn’t help me with putting food on the table right now. The reality is that I have to have several short term or ‘instant money’ projects on the go to bring the money in on a monthly basis, and somehow I have to find the time and energy to balance the two.

We all know and understand that finding balance in anything is quite difficult and it is usually when I am hugely ‘out of balance’ that I start to panic and feel completely overwhelmed and out of my depth. The pressure feels as though it is pinning me down and I have to struggle to get out of it’s clutches. During moments like this I understand that I am in dire need of what I call my ‘dream time’. It is the ‘me’ time that I take to just be. To be quiet in myself and in my space. It is the time that I take to think things over and dream of all the possibilities. It is the time that I take to reconnect to my soul, to the child and the adolescent within me. It is the time that I take to reconnect with my purpose in life, when I remember why it is that I started this journey, where I want it to take me and what I want to achieve. Taking ‘dream time’ gives me the opportunity to ‘remember’ my purpose and my purpose is the reason that I am on the planet. Forgetting or distancing ourselves from our life’s purpose can have some pretty drastic consequences, so always remember to reconnect, to take some time out and remember.

I seem to be on a mission with myself today. The reason that I am saying this, with a huge big grin on my face is simply this – I often write about the things that I most need to hear and both of these words, today are very definitely what I need to hear about right now. I spend about 90% of my time motivating people. Whether it is through my blogs and the various articles that I write for newspapers and magazines or whether it is when I am giving a talk or even when I am assessing a client’s business, I am motivating them. Whether it is to do things differently in order to get a better result or even when I am rescuing them from something that has happened as a direct result of some bad decisions – I am motivating them. “Well that’s not a bad thing.” I hear you say, and no of course it isn’t. Here’s the thing though – I seldom take time out to motivate myself and that’s not a good thing. I need to listen to some motivational CD’s or read a motivational book to get me ‘fired’ up every now and then! I need to attend more motivational workshops like the ones presented by Donna McCallum AKA The Fairy Godmother ( and I definitely need to hear some motivational tips from a source other than me!

Hearing things from another person, often puts your own thoughts into a different perspective, it makes them more profound, more real and they often give you a greater clout about the ears than when you whisper them to yourself.

Clearly, I need to listen to my own words, so until next week when we continue with some more powerful words – where did I put Donna’s book “A Fairy Godmother’s guide to Getting What You Want”? Ah – there it is . . .

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

Friday, June 25, 2010

HR - Trapping and Entrapment


Trapping and Entrapment - Part 1

By Nikki Viljoen of Viljoen Consulting CC June 2010

Winning at the CCMA as an employer is extremely difficult, usually because the employer is always the accused and as the accused you are always ‘seen to be guilty until proven innocent’! Is this fair? Of course not, but that is the perception and it is therefore up to you, as the employer to prove your innocence.

The most import three factors that you, as the employer need to take into consideration when attempting to convince the CCMA that you dismissed your staff member fairly are:

- that your employee was guilty of the offence, be it misconduct or poor performance. Having a case that is not ‘rock solid’ in this instance will just not cut the mustard!
- Trying to get rid of an employee because “you have too many”, does not help your case. If you are in this situation, bite the bullet and go the retrenchment route, don’t try and use evidence that is really not strong enough and not worth the paper it is written on – it will cost you more in the long run.
- Make sure that you can ‘prove’ your evidence. Many employers in a frustrated attempt to get rid of a ‘bad apple’ resort to illegal means to gather their evidence and make their cases stronger. This is really not a good idea and will also cost you big time in the long run.

Here’s the difference between what is legitimate and not:

- getting your facts together by conducting a proper and thorough investigation of the course of events.
- Using your policies, procedures, templates and any other documentation that were used as proof to back up your facts.
- Using video footage and/or audio tapes (or any other electronic methods) and/or polygraph tests, stress tests, voice analysis, handwriting tests etc to back up your documentary evidence – remember the staff member will have had to give you written permission to perform these tests.
- Having witnesses who can corroborate your evidence and who will give testimony on the course of events as they occurred.
- Laying traps for the employee and supplying evidence of how those traps were laid and the course of events that employee followed and the result thereof.

- Using documentary evidence and/or video and/or audio evidence that has been falsified in any way.
- Using witnesses who lie in order to ‘prove’ your case.
- Forcing your employee to confess by using his family/his work etc as the reason he should confess.
- Entrapment, which basically means that you lay a trap and then force the employee to fall into it.

Please don’t get confused between the two.

Next week I will give you a story example of exactly what entrapment is and highlight the difference between Trapping and Entrapment.

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

Thursday, June 24, 2010

BLOGGING TIPS - The Content - Part 8

BLOGGING TIPS – The Content – Part 8

By Nikki Viljoen – Viljoen Consulting CC June 2010

I don’t believe that I am any different to anyone else who loves to read and one of my biggest pet hates around reading (apart from the fact that I hate starting a book and I hate finishing a book), is when there is an abrupt interruption of the story. Don’t you hate when that happens, you’re reading away, minding your own business, following the twists and turns of the story, engulfed in the plot, hardly daring to breathe as you turn the page and . . . well nothing! As you begin to read the next page, nothing that you are reading makes any kind of sense and you glance down at the page number and then look at the previous page number and in total disbelief you find that someone has torn out several pages – or even worse – you turn what you think is the last page only to find that someone has stolen the last few pages and after reading a thousand odd pages you have no idea how the story ends! Grrrrrr – that makes me mad as a snake!

Clearly this does not apply only to the books that you read but also articles that you read, whether those articles are in magazines or on a blog, makes no real difference – you want to know the whole story, well at least I know that I do. You want to know how the whole thing started and what happened then and then the result or consequence. Look, let’s be reasonable, we understand that unless your full time job is the writing of blogs, your time and energy is stretched and that that means that you probably won’t be able to research every single article to the ninth degree, but you also need to understand that the readers really do need to have closure. They need to know how it ends. They have to at least understand the basics of what it is that you are trying to say. Think about it for a moment, it’s like people walking around and starting a conversation, uttering half a sentence and then walking away leaving everyone looking at them with very perplexed looks on their faces. Remember the basics that you learnt at school (well I did), that every good story has a beginning, a middle and an end.

If you don’t at least follow the basics and leave your readers feeling confused and frustrated, they won’t be returning any time soon and not only will they not be returning, but they will also not be sending any new readers or referrals your way either.

Next week we will look at a few more points about the content of your blog.

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

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

The Power of Networking - Part 162


PART 162

By Nikki Viljoen of N Viljoen Consulting CC. June 2010

The infamous Napoleon Hill says “A group of brains co-ordinated in a spirit of harmony will provide more thought energy than a single brain.”

When I first started my business in 2003, one of my biggest fears was the fact that I was doing this on my own. Now don’t get me wrong, I have no problem with being on my own, in fact, if the truth be told I quite enjoy my own company. The scary thing was that I recognised the fact that I don’t know everything and not only do I know this, but I also know that I am a human being and in times of stress or if I focus really hard on one thing, it often means that I don’t see the ‘wood for the trees’. I doubt very much that I am alone in this, it’s a normal state of affairs, I am sure.

Belonging to and networking with several groups of very different and diverse people means that I get to ‘brainstorm’ with a huge number of individuals, some of who have no knowledge of what it is that I do, but who usually bring a fresh perspective to the problem or new ideas on how to deal with any given situation (and even some really interesting ones too), to the discussion. Let’s face it, we could all do with some extra help every now and then.

By now you will know that my friend GiGi won the Celebrity Survivor (well done GiGi). GiGi is the owner of the Lollipop Lounge ( in Randburg and she tells me that not only did she have the experience of a lifetime, but she also learnt a great deal, some of which she has implemented into her business. Listening her speak, it is evident that one of the most important lessons that she learnt was in fact – to listen. GiGi says that if she didn’t just ‘shut up and listen’ she would have be out of the game! Keeping her own counsel and really listening to what the others were saying and what they were plotting and planning enabled her to make decisions about her own strategy that ensured that she appeared to be no threat whatsoever. This is fact was how she won the game.

In her business, GiGi now takes the time to listen to what her staff and her customers and her colleagues are saying. It allows her to ‘get the picture’ of what they are trying to tell her as well as allows her to see the whole picture of what is occurring and this in turn enables her to make meaningful and informed decisions.

This is also true of Networking – people love to talk about themselves. So ask them what they do, what they would love to do, what their dreams and aspirations are and then sit back and listen, really listen – you may be pleasantly surprised at what comes out.

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

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

BUSINESS TIPS - Why Twitter - Part 4

BUSINESS TIPS – Why Twitter – Part 4

By Nikki Viljoen – Viljoen Consulting CC June 2010

As promised last week, here are some additional tips when tweeting.

Since it is all about giving to get, (and I believe this to be true irrespective of whether you own a business or not), don’t just tweet to drive the numbers to your website. Engage in conversation, join in discussions and respond to those who send you a tweet. Yes I know that it may seem a little awkward at first, they are strangers after all, but remember – you are in cyberspace and that makes you very safe!

The more you engage with people, the more involved you become and the more involved you become, the more friends you make and let’s face it, we can always do with a few more friends! Actually if the truth be told, because of twitter and facebook, I have reconnected with old friends and acquaintances that I had lost contact with – some of whom I have not spoken to or seen in over 35 years. They are both an incredible medium.

Despite the fact that this is cyberspace and as far as I am concerned, you are safe – there are some scary people out there and it is always better to be safe than sorry. So, no-where is it written that you have to put personal details such as your home or physical address or contact details and certainly it would be wise to exercise caution in these particular areas. I always look at the following as a guideline before following another tweeter:

1. If, when looking at their profiles, everything is written in a foreign language, then there is really no point in me following them as I cannot understand what they are on about and

2. If their tweets (and for goodness sake have a look at more than one or two, to be fair) don’t hold my attention or deal with anything that I find even remotely interesting, then quite frankly – what is the point?

Exercise reasonable caution and you will be fine. Remember though you can always stop following someone – there is no law that says you have to engage with anyone.

Next week we will have a look at some additional tweeting tips.

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

Monday, June 21, 2010

MOTIVATION - Powerful Words - Part 1

MOTIVATION – Powerful Words – Part 1

By Nikki Viljoen of N Viljoen Consulting CC – June 2010

We all have those words or those sayings that ‘pick’ us up when we are down – I know I do. In fact, if the truth be told, I have this whole conversation that goes on in my head and often is actually uttered out loud (hopefully when no-one is watching), that gets me out of whatever slump it is that I am in.

Let’s face it, when something untoward happens, it can mess with your momentum, your mood, your head and throw you completely off course. This is when this whole soliloquy takes place and one of two things happen. I either get really angry at what has happened and then I challenge everything or it gets me out of my funk. If I get angry and challenge everything, then I have to wait until I have calmed down, have the conversation again and at that point I can generally get on with life (hopefully going in the right direction)!

There are however some words that we can use that are generally accepted as “Power Words” that will assist us in getting our perspective right and boosting our confidence at the same time. There are words that will motivate you and even keep you passionate about what you are doing irrespective of what may come your way. Some of these words are (but not limited to):

So often we push ourselves really hard and then on top of that we are really hard on ourselves if we don’t get everything done. Here’s the thing though – we are human beings, not robots. As humans, the reality is that there will be times when we are up and there will be times when we get down – that’s just life, in fact both the ups and downs are necessary for us to function properly and for us to ultimately be successful. The trick is for us to accept this and then deal with it effectively. When we don’t accept who we are and the ‘ups and downs’ of our lives, we then find ourselves in a situation where we can’t think clearly or innovatively and that’s just not a good space to be in. The other thing of course that we often harp on the past – that doesn’t help at all, it just gets our minds into an absolute loop tape and we go round and round going nowhere. Accepting that the past is exactly that – the past, and acknowledging what didn’t work makes it easier to understand what could work in the future. The key though is to accept it, deal with it and then move on.

Many of the failures that I come across in life can be directly attributed to lack of planning. People have a dream, a vision if you will of something that they would love to do, that they are perhaps passionate about and they go for it! Nothing wrong with that and I will always say “well done”. The problem comes in when they go from zero to 100 in an instant and leave out all the bits in between. The bits in between, being mostly the planning! Having the desire and the passion are really great and very little can be accomplished without that essence – that said, nothing will be accomplished without planning and certainly, very little will actually succeed without proper planning. The research needs to be done properly to ensure that you are at least aware of what can go wrong and all the consequences of what your actions will be, both in the positive and the negative. You have to know what to do if or even when something should happen. Write everything down – all the positives and what to do with them, all the negatives and how to deal with them. Write it down, from the smallest detail to the biggest item. Run through each scenario several times until you think you have taken everything into account and then go through it again. Put timelines on everything, that way you will have a goal to reach and it will also keep you focused.

Next week we will have a few more words to keep you motivated.

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

Friday, June 18, 2010

HR - Sex Workers Also Have Rights

Sex Workers Also Have Rights

By Nikki Viljoen of Viljoen Consulting CC June 2010

To be perfectly honest, my sense of humour really got the better of me with this one and I must admit I laughed hard and out loud!

Apparently during the month of May 2010, according to Labour Bulletin “the Labour Appeal Court handed down judgement in the case of a sex worker who was unfairly dismissed by the brothel employing her.” Man oh man – I wish I could have been a ‘fly on the wall’ at that one. Probably just as well though as I probably would have laughed out loud during the handing down of that one too!

You see, in my opinion (and I know that I am going to take a huge amount of flak over this one), sex workers, strippers and well all of the girls who work in this industry are ignored or treated like they are not people and quite frankly, that’s just wrong on so many different levels. Irrespective of whether we condone what they do or not, the fact of the matter is that they work at the oldest profession in the world and until May 2010 have not had any protection what-so-ever and I say ‘shame on us’! Fact of the matter is that they are mothers, daughters, sisters, aunts – just like we are! Fact of the matter, that whatever the reason they work in this particular industry, generally speaking they are all just trying to get along with the business of putting food on the table, just like us! Fact of the matter is – they are people, human beings, individuals who deserve protection, just like us!

Here’s the thing – our very progressive and liberal constitution states that “everyone” has a right to fair labour practices and I guess, for once, ‘everyone’ means just that – every single person, irrespective of whether the employer or the employee is engaged in illegal practice.

Here’s a warning though – the constitution doesn’t absolve them from having engaged in any illegal practices and obviously if they are caught performing illegal tasks (such as a sex worker) they can and will be prosecuted.

What it does mean though, is that irrespective of where you work and the kind of work that you do (legal or otherwise), you have the right to be treated with dignity and respect by your colleagues, your clients and your employers.

Sadly though, even though sex workers have the right to the protection and their employers can be prosecuted for not complying with these rights, there seems to be some confusion as to the compensation for the employee as these may be seen to violate various provisions of the “Sexual Offences Act” – still, in my opinion, it is a step in the right direction.

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

Thursday, June 17, 2010

BLOGGING TIPS - The Content - Part 7

BLOGGING TIPS – The Content – Part 7

By Nikki Viljoen – Viljoen Consulting CC June 2010

Let’s face it – I write 5 new articles a week for my blog – that does not include what I write for the newspaper or the magazines such as Business Women or Your Business or Women’s Inc and it certainly doesn’t cover all the Policies and Procedures that I write for my clients – that’s purely just the blogs. As you can imagine, my blog becomes, on occasion a voracious beast – seeming to devour everything, including me. That said, it was my decision to write the blogs, it was my decision to share my knowledge and/or experience and/or research as I go along. So yes, it’s my decision to post when I do. That said, I know how I feel when I go to my favorite blog and notice that there are no new posts. It feels like I have been abandoned!

For the record I do not post blogs on South African public holidays (which is why there wasn’t one posted yesterday) and I ‘shut down’ the office from the 16th December to the 1st working day of the New Year. So there will be no blogs on those days. I know that recently there was a time when I just had to stop – I felt like I was having a meltdown – so much stuff happening, too little sleep and not enough dreamtime or even rest. What I should have done was posted something telling everyone that I was taking a break – people like to have consistency in their lives and reading their favorite blog on a daily/weekly/monthly (whatever time frame) means that you have to be writing their favorite blog on a daily/weekly/monthly (whatever time frame). So again it is one of those “do as I tell you and don’t do as I do things!”

For many people, reading a blog (or any article for that matter) is them investing time in what it is that you have to say. Time, as we know is money, so for them to be investing that time, is a great compliment to you. For many, the justification for them taking time out of their busy schedule is a negotiation (usually an internal one). The negotiation is this - “I am going to take time out of my busy schedule to read something that is interesting.” So here’s the thing – what you write has to be interesting! It doesn’t have to be funny (although that is my natural style of writing – so for me that helps), but it does have to be something that they want to read, something that is perhaps unique or something that is new or even something that is satiric. Even if the topic is one that the whole world is familiar with, make it interesting, look at it from a different perspective or from a different angle. Even if you use ‘your observation’ as the foundation of your blog make sure that it is interesting and full of information,

Next week we will look at a few more points about the content of your blog.

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

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

BUSINESS TIPS - Why Twitter - Part 3

BUSINESS TIPS – Why Twitter – Part 3

By Nikki Viljoen – Viljoen Consulting CC June 2010

Twitter for me, as you no doubt seen in the last two posts, is about communicating with a much larger audience. Most sites that you get onto today have a link onto twitter – especially the social networking sites. This of course means that your ‘tweets’ are reaching a much larger audience and this of course also means that you are driving more and more traffic to your own website.

Most of the professional social networking type websites such as (but not limited to) Facebook, have Twitter groups. These are individuals who are passionate about their tweets and who love to grow their following and who love to interact and share information, knowledge, experience and generally just have good fun. Write a little something about yourself – remember to keep it short and to the point – find these groups and let them know you are about. Generally speaking, people who are interested in what you have to say, will be interested enough to follow you, thereby exposing your blog and/or website to a whole different group as well.

One of the quickest ways to get people interested in following you or driving traffic to your blog or website is to post a question with a poll. Yep, people are curious as to what other people think and love to see statistics on ‘who thinks what’ (actually how many people agree with what they think is more like it!). If you make the topic of the poll something to do with what it is that you do, not only will it drive people to your website, it will in all probability keep them there too and get them coming back, time and time again.

When I started my whole Networking experience, I started asking questions – lots and lots of questions. You see, I had come from a Corporate Environment and being on the road for almost three weeks of the month, I was pretty isolated from the rest of the Company. From there I went straight into my business and met the real world – in great abundance. There was so much new stuff that was happening that I was completely clueless about and so much that I needed to know. So I traded. For every question that I asked, I tried to ensure that I also ‘gave’ some useful information in return. As I used the new information that I was given I, in turn shared it with others and so the blog was born. One of the most important things I discovered though is that generally speaking, people love to share their experiences and their knowledge. Actually if the truth be told, generally speaking, people love to help others.

So don’t be scared to ask for help, but remember the ‘give to get’ thing. Don’t always just take – give as well! You’ll be amazed at just how good it will make you feel.

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

Monday, June 14, 2010

MOTIVATION - Taking Responsibility for Our Failure

MOTIVATION – Taking Responsibility for Our Failure

By Nikki Viljoen of N Viljoen Consulting CC – June 2010

Oh dear – looks like I got the soap box out again. Clearly the whole thing on “Failure” has got me in a bit of a spin!

It seems to me that most people think of success or failure as either good or bad luck – that’s just so confusing. Surely your success is based on what you did that was right or what worked and your failure is based on what you did wrong or what didn’t work?

I mean think about it for a moment – when someone succeeds at something, they celebrate all that went before it, the hard work, the making of the right decisions, the planning and precision, the long hours and the sleepless nights. So how then, when there is failure does it become everyone else’s fault?

How could it possibly by the fault of the rand being too low, or economics or politics or the tax man or the 2010 World Cup? That’s just bizarre! The fact of the matter is that very few people want to take responsibility for their own actions. Very few people want to look at themselves and then admit that perhaps it was their very own actions (or non actions for that matter) that have caused their downfall. Very few people are prepared to accept that what they have done is their own fault.

Now here’s the problem – if you don’t admit to failure being your own fault, how on earth will you be able to correct whatever it is that you did wrong so that you don’t do it again? How on earth will you learn from your mistakes and go on to grow as an individual? How on earth will you ever learn to take responsibility for your actions or when you fail to act?

Part of your goals should be ensuring that you give and receive accolades when they are due and not only for others but for yourself as well. We are all very quick to grab the limelight when we have done something right but seldom that quick when we have done something wrong. Part of your goals should be being able to look at a situation that has gone wrong and take responsibility, learn from the mistake, make adjustments and move on.

Part of becoming the best person that you can be is to be able to dig deep, admit to what has happened, I promise you, you will feel all the better for it.

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

Friday, June 11, 2010

HR - Witnesses Must Testify


Witnesses Must Testify

By Nikki Viljoen of Viljoen Consulting CC June 2010

I have had to facilitate a huge number of disciplinary hearings during the first half of this year and each one has just magnified the importance of having witnesses. Sure documents tell their own story but the weight of the testimony of a good witness is much stronger.

In the instances that the employee has taken their case to the CCMA – the witnesses also went along to present their testimony which has then been backed up, for the most part, by the documentation and/or other evidence.

Remember though, no matter how strong or convincing the witness may be, the employee has the right to cross examine that witness and challenge the documentation and/or other evidence, so it is of the utmost importance that the witness is clear on the facts and that the story is told clearly, factually and without embellishments.

Whatever the story, whatever the facts, these should be backed up with documentary evidence.

Obviously the more witnesses you have and the more documented evidence you have to support the testimony of your witnesses the stronger your case will be.

Disciplinary Chairpersons and CCMA Arbitrators make decisions based on three criteria (apart from the stories that are told by the employer and the employee) and these are:

• Documents
• Items such as video tapes, the actual items that may have been stolen and
• Witness testimony

Although the evidence is critically important, the most crucial is the witness.

Say for example that there is a document that states a particular process in a step by step manner, the author of the document and/or the person who used the document for training purposes would still be required to firstly, validate the document and secondly to explain the reason and/or intent behind why the document exists. Finally, how the employee did not adhere to the procedures as stipulated in the document would have to be explained to.

Remember though, that for witnesses to be effective they need to manage the witnesses properly, to ensure that they actually pitch to the hearing. They have to be properly prepared, to ensure that they have all the relevant details available. The biggest thing to control though, is to ensure that your witnesses are not bribed and/or persuaded to lie or negatively embellish the facts in any way.

Be prepared and always be pro-active.

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

Thursday, June 10, 2010

EARLY WARNING - World Cup Security Brief


World cup Security Brief

By Nikki Viljoen – Viljoen Consulting June 2010.

I received this mail from a colleague who works in one of the Security Companies that are working with and in the World Cup arena. I have been asked to pass it on and in the interests of keeping ourselves safe over this period, here it is. Please read it, make yourself aware of what could happen and pass it on.

Please note that the intention is not to scare the crap out of anyone, just make them aware.


Here it is . . .

Email received - definitely worth the read.......

Yesterday afternoon I attended the World Cup security brief held at the Consular section and presented by Mr Aubrey Pieters. Those of you who have attended the security courses at the BHC when you first arrived will be aware of his pedigree and his background as an independent security advisor. It was an interesting brief which was well received by both the black and the white faces in the audience.

Due to the large number of Police (SAPS) that will be required to actually police the event, the criminals and the security advisors are aware that the World Cup period is going to be like another holiday period for the criminal fraternity. The SAPS will be concentrating on the areas most frequented by visitors/tourists. These will be at the Football stadiums, the Fan parks, ORT airport, hotels in the cities and the routes to the stadiums. This leaves the criminals to have a free run at the suburbs! The criminals are fully aware of this too. They understand that the reaction time for SAPS to get to an incident will be long - if they come at all.

The crimes that will increase are home invasions, driveway robberies and carjacking at your home.

Home invasions. These are likely to take place when the criminals see a number of cars in driveways of homes. This would indicate that there are a group of friends watching a match who will be distracted. Normally alcohol is involved and there is usually a door open where the guys have been at the BBQ. They will attempt to jump the fence or get into the property and rob everyone of their personnel effects.

Carjackings. No change to the normal brief from Aubrey. Gangs will target women (normally) in a supermarket and inform other gang members who are in the car park waiting to follow you home. The advice is to pay attention to who else turns the same way as you do at junctions. The car tailing you is likely to be 3 or 4 cars back. If you think you are being tailed head to a petrol station or large shopping centre and get out the car and phone for help. Do not try to get home and get in the front gate. Either phone ADT and get them to meet you somewhere or better still phone the Dip Police.

They will not be involved in football match security..

Driveway robberies. Be very aware of who or what is in your street or outside your house when you approach it. If somebody is loitering or if you pass a car with one or two occupants apparently sat idly, do not enter your drive.. Always pull up parallel to your drive and open the gate. Never pull up in front of the gate and then open it. That will be the time when you get boxed in by the car full of trouble and you wont have much time to react. They are then likely to steal what you have on you (wallets, purses, rings, mobile phones, laptops etc) and then shoot off or worst still get you to open the house and go in with you.

For those of you who are going to the games, the trouble you are likely to come across will be either a few drunken yobs looking for a fight or pickpockets. The security agencies are aware that major public gatherings like the World Cup will attract international pickpockets from around the world. These guys are experts and you will not know that it has happened until many hours later. Gents wallets are normally kept in the back right pocket of trousers. Move it. Split your money and cards. Be careful.

Smash and grabs will increase too. Tourists will leave cameras, phones and bags on car seats. Rich pickings for the smash and grab gangs. If you don’t already have the smash and grab film on your car windows go and get it done now. If you can’t afford it, the advice is to drive with your windows down about half an inch. This makes it 4 times harder to smash the window.

For those with children the World Cup is going to be a particularly bad time for child abductions. In South Africa there are 15 abductions/kidnappings every day and they see this as a crime which will get out of hand over the World Cup period. Human trafficking gangs know that the schools are all on holiday over the tournament. They will target shopping malls, cafes, cinemas, public toilets and toy departments in shops . The SA authorities estimate that approx 300,000 Africans will come over the borders for the tournament. The borders will not be able to cope with the surge and checks will be cursory in most cases. Babies will be abducted for scrupulous adoption agencies in Nigeria and the like. Children aged 4-8 will be targeted for the porn industry. Those children around 9 -13 for prostitution.

Keep an eye on your children! Do not send them off to the toilets alone. Do not let them go to the toy section while you do the rest of your shopping.

Please pass this on to your families (if they can cope with it).

The Key message is that crime is likely to increase and the response by the Police will be slow. Stay alert and street wise and you should be fine.

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

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

The Power of Networking - Part 161


PART 161

By Nikki Viljoen of N Viljoen Consulting CC. June 2010

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – in fact, I have no doubt that I will be saying it many times over, during the course of the remainder of my life – Networking is about relationships. It’s about, not only meeting new people and creating new relationships – it’s also about nurturing and maintaining current relationships.

That said, I do understand that not everyone is equally as good as I am at Networking. In fact, if the truth be told, not many people actually even like to Network. I have to be aware of that because I need to make allowances for those who do not network or operate in the same way that I do. It means that I also tend to gravitate towards those who do operate or Network in the same way that I do, people who will reciprocate, people who will “give to get”, people who not only want referrals from me, but also who want to send referrals to me. I tend to respond more quickly to requests from these individuals as I know that they respond more quickly to me.

I also know that the more help and assistance that I give, means the more help and assistance I will get. All I have to do is ask and the people in my Network automatically respond. How cool is that?

It’s all good and well to ask for help, but that doesn’t mean that you should expect everyone to drop whatever it is that they are doing to come to your rescue. That’s just rude! If you need assistance with something, don’t leave your request to the last minute. By all means, ask for assistance but let your Network have sufficient time to respond. So plan properly and ask early!

When you ask for assistance and you get it, don’t just leave everything there. Interact and communicate with your contact. Let them know how their information assisted you, what use you make of it and what the result is. Make them a part of what it is that you did.

Don’t, I repeat DO NOT, forget to say ‘thank you’! You cannot believe the number of people who contact me for information, who expect me to drop whatever it is that I am doing to give it to them at no cost and then who never say ‘thank you’, let alone show any other kind of gratitude. Understand the next time around, I am really not going to be available. It really is a very small price to pay for the information and/or interaction.

Networking is definitely not about “what’s in it for me” but rather about “How can I be of assistance to you.”

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

BUSINESS TIPS - WhyTwitter - Part 2

BUSINESS TIPS – Why Twitter – Part 2

By Nikki Viljoen – Viljoen Consulting CC June 2010

Everyone is ‘twittering’ about twitter! From what I have heard, it is often asked “what is twitter” or “how does it work?” and my personal favorite “What are you doing?”

Those of us who use social networking as a marketing tool, this last question is often seen on sites like Facebook, or MySpace or Linked in. The fact of the matter is that people are interested in learning more about you – be that in your personal capacity or in your business capacity. That’s just human nature – we are a curious species.

So for me it makes perfect sense to use Twitter as a marketing tool. As individuals “follow me” on twitter, so they link into my website and my blogs. If they like what they read, chances are that they will start looking out for my daily link and many of them don’t even wait to do that, they signup on the website to get the blogs sent to them on a daily basis. How cool is that?

Now, I’m not saying that everyone who “follows me” will be interested in all of the articles that I write, but since (in my opinion) there is something for everyone, it stands to reason that as I link up to people who I follow and then they follow me – more and more traffic is driven to my website and we could all do with that, I am sure you will agree!

From a marketing point of view, those who “follow me” on twitter have found something in my articles that interest them – this of course means that they are my ‘target market’. Here’s another cool thing – not only are these individuals looking at my information, but I am also looking at their information. Not only am I making a difference in their lives, but they are also making a difference and adding value to mine.

What an incredible way to collaborate! What an incredible way to interact with and meet new people!

Man, I love technology – yes, I know that I always say that I am a technophobe (but that is because I don’t understand the technical terminology) and that I don’t always understand it, but I do know, a little bit about what it does and I sure do love it!

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

Monday, June 07, 2010

MOTIVATION - Advantages of Failure

MOTIVATION – Advantages of Failure

By Nikki Viljoen of N Viljoen Consulting CC – June 2010

Okay, I know, I know, I know – I seem to be hell bent on the whole “failure” thing at the moment. Truth is, it is very important for me to make sure that we all (and that means me too) know that failure is not the end of the world but rather the beginning of a new chapter.

Here’s a whole new take on it. I was reading an article by Charlene Smith who says “It’s important to fail. But while you’re lying on the floor, what’s even more important is to be thinking ‘Okay, so how do I start again?’”

I really, really like the idea of lying on the floor (well you can’t get much lower or rock bottom than that can you) contemplating the world as it is right at that particular moment, thinking ‘How the hell did I get here” or blaming the government, the tax man, the competitors and the latest one that I heard the other day, the 2010 world cup (huh!) before you get to the real reason as to why you failed (oh come on, it’s got to dawn on you at some stage that you are responsible for your own failure)! I also think that it is important to allow yourself to ‘feel’ the pain, the sorrow and the angst for being that failure (well for a maximum of five minutes that is) – you need to remember what that feels like so that when you are tempted to repeat your mistakes, the memory will assist with not allowing you to. But then it is time to stop beating your breast or pulling your hair out or weeping and wailing and throwing your hands heavenward as you cry “why me”? Then it’s time to pick yourself up, dust yourself off, square your shoulders and get on with it.

The ‘it’ that you need to get on with is firstly, a plan to be getting yourself out of the mess that you currently find yourself in and secondly, how to start again and do things differently.

You don’t really think that every single successful person on the planet became mega successful without failing at some point do you? Here’s a touch of reality – what makes you think that you are any different? What makes you think that you are better than the ‘greats’ of the world – we all know them, we all read about them – people like Henry Ford or Thomas Edison or to bring us closer to our own time frame, Bill Gates and Richard Branson. Failure, in Charlene Smith’s words is “unavoidable”! So - take that!

The reality of that means that “no truly successful person has avoided failure or sometimes dramatic setbacks” – again, why would you be any different?

The reality of the situation is that, in order for us to grow ourselves and our businesses we have to be ‘streetwise’. We have to know where the potholes and pitfalls are and for that we need experience. We have to know how to deal with people be they clients or suppliers or staff. The reality of the situation is that we, as humans are lazy – we always want to take the short cut or get others to do things that we are too lazy to do ourselves and therein lies some of our biggest errors. That said, the reality is also that we cannot do everything ourselves, so when we rely on others it should be others that have the experience that we ourselves lack. It should be others that we trust and respect and who have the same values and morals as ourselves.

So while you’re lying there on the floor feeling sorry for yourself and the situation that you find yourself in – think about this in-between the moment where you are weeping and wailing and blaming all and sundry and the moment that you pick yourself up – failing at something gives you the opportunity to do something again, but differently.

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

Friday, June 04, 2010

HR - Maintain Control of Your Staff - Part 7


Maintain Control of your Staff – Part 7

By Nikki Viljoen of Viljoen Consulting CC June 2010

During the course of the several last weeks, we have had a pretty extensive look at some of the more common problems that line managers and SMME’s experience with their staff. I have touched on some of the ways in which to combat these problems but list hereunder some additional thoughts on the subject.

Before I get into any kind of serious detail about the “how to” of controlling the situation, let me make it very clear from the get go that it is not necessarily the Manager’s fault that the staff want to get up to the mischief that they manage to get themselves into. Human nature being what it is means that there will always be those individuals who are lazy or who actually are not interested in what they are doing or in fact have no interest in being an integral part of a team. That is just the way that it is sometimes.

Here’s the thing though, it is incumbent upon the manager to implement measures that control staff and this is usually done in the first instance by putting together preventative and even corrective measures. These measures of course have one of two effects upon the staff. They will either change the behaviour of the staff member, or alternatively where the staff member is just not interested in conforming or getting back into line with the rest of the staff – these measures can and should be used to discipline and where applicable, even dismiss the individuals concerned (be sure to follow the correct procedures though).

The manager, must therefore be able to quickly recognise where there is a problem with rebellious or lazy staff. Staff who are demotivated also need to be monitored closely to ensure that they too start working correctly. Managers need to deal with staff in such a way that they clearly understand that their bad behaviour is not going to be tolerated. Staff who have momentarily ‘lost’ their way, need to be guided back to what they should be doing in a fair, but also firm manner.

Where necessary, swift and appropriate disciplinary action should be taken, which not only deals effectively with the situation, but also is considered fair by the CCMA and/or the various bargaining councils.

Any kind of procedure must be fair though and disciplinary action taken must always be procedurally correct to ensure that the employer doesn’t end up on the ‘receiving’ end of the wrath of the CCMA.

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

Thursday, June 03, 2010

BLOGGING TIPS - The Content - Part 6

BLOGGING TIPS – The Content – Part 6

By Nikki Viljoen – Viljoen Consulting CC June 2010

Many of us read a huge number of blogs everyday. In fact, many of us get all our information in an electronic format. I know I do – it’s easier to get the daily news that way – I get to read it when it’s convenient for me to do so. I get IOL (Information on Line) as well as Mail and Guardian twice a day – that’s reading 4 newspapers a day (and I don’t kill any trees either) as well as several monthly and even weekly newsletters that I subscribe to. That’s a huge amount of reading and a huge amount of information, don’t you think?

When you consider however that according to statistics over 900K posts are uploaded everyday, together, what you and I read is a drop in the ocean actually. That said, I do have a day job and cannot (as much as I would like to) spend the whole day reading – so it is very important for me to choose newsletters or blogs that give me information that is relevant to me.

Catching my eye and getting me to subscribe to your blog is difficult at best but getting me to stick around and religiously read all of your articles or ‘wonder of wonders’ eagerly await the next one, is your greatest challenge.

Herein lies your personal challenge – you have worked hard to cultivate and grow your audience – you have to work even harder to keep them enthralled!

For me, staying true to my topic, is what will ensure that I bring my readers back time and time again. The information that I provide and the fact that I share my knowledge, my experience, my expertise and my research, makes me a very empowered entity.

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

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

The Power of Networking - Part 160


PART 160

By Nikki Viljoen of N Viljoen Consulting CC. June 2010

I am sure I am not the only person to hear people saying that they ‘work in a Corporate Company and therefore they don’t have to Network”. I don’t know how you feel about that, but it not only amazes me, it also saddens me! I mean, look at the potential that they are just dismissing out of hand.

It really doesn’t matter where you work or whether you work for yourself or not, Networking has got to form part of your communication and it is an essential skill to have if you really want to get anywhere. Think about us women who are always complaining about the “old boy’s network” – I mean, what on earth do you think that is exactly?

Quite frankly, Networking in the workplace is the most effective way to get your career advanced. How’s that for a statement?

Think about it for a moment – in every business and every Corporate there are those special few (and I wish I had the numbers for the ones in some of the companies that I deal with) who are a ‘cut above’ the rest. Often it is their knowledge, or the way that they deal with their customers (going the extra mile or putting the extra effort in) that sets them apart. Most of the time however, it’s in the relationships that they have built up around themselves from their network, both in the company and also outside of it.

I can just see the consternation on the faces of many of you – so let me explain. You see, Networking is about connecting with people. Networking is about building relationships. When you connect with people and have relationships with those people you put yourself in a position were you are either able to help them or alternatively, they are able to help you. How cool is that?

Big Corporate Companies, who understand the value of internal Networking and building of relationships are usually the companies that use things like ‘team building’ experiences or relationship building workshops to assist their staff in forming relationships (and no I am not talking about the lovey-dovey ones) and building their Networks. They understand that in order for their employees to effectively run or manage projects, or communicate ideas during a ‘brain storming’ meeting, or even obtain information that is critical to doing some research, the employees have to have a strong and effective Network that is well connected with them.

So the next time you hear someone say that they are employed and therefore don’t need to Network, perhaps you should exercise your right to do a ‘good deed’ for the day and gently explain to them, just how vital it is for them to Network – who knows, they may actually listen and you will have gained a grateful and probably strongly connected individual for your own database too.

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

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

BUSINESS TIPS - WhyTwitter - Part 1

BUSINESS TIPS – Why Twitter – Part 1

By Nikki Viljoen – Viljoen Consulting CC June 2010

For the last couple of years now, I have been listening to all the hype about “Twitter” and “Tweeting” and “Tweets” and so on. Actually, now that I think about it, my technophobia aside – I really do love technology, I love the world that it opens up to me. The fact that I am not sure how the technical side of things work doesn’t really phase me at all. I do know that “Twitter” is another form of international communication and what I really love about it is that it allows me to put a one-liner up which will drive a considerable number of people to my website.

For example, on a daily basis I tweet – Today’s blog (and then the title of the blog), add the url address of my website and that’s it. Looking at the statistics afterwards shows me exactly how many people come and visit my website and they usually stay for a while and look around. How do I know this? Well the stats show that the average time anyone spends on my website is in excess of 5 minutes. See, my website is very content rich with loads of information that pertains mostly to SMME’s (small, medium, micro enterprise), Entrepreneurs and start ups but actually in general to everyone. The information is presented in bite sized chunks, with my own brand of humour and I know that many have not only learnt something but have also enjoyed a chuckle whilst doing so – and that’s always a bonus.

I also know that when I started the whole ‘twitter’ scenario, I was addicted. I couldn’t get enough of the site. I found myself standing in a queue and instead of reading my book (which is what I used to do), I would be logging onto the site via my phone to see ‘who had posted what tweets’ – it was an exciting time of information overload. Back at the office, I found myself logging onto the site at every opportunity and found myself going from one site to the other as I devoured all the information that others had so thoughtfully found and shared with me.

Reality hit me really hard one day, when I got up and it was still dark outside. I did the daily things that are routine to me and immediately logged onto the site. During the course of the day, I felt hungry and thirsty but every time I wanted to get up and get something to eat or drink, I found myself caught up in whatever it was that I was reading and thought ‘as soon as I finish this article I will go and get (insert food or drink here)’. Of course I got so involved that getting something to eat or drink just never happened. After what seemed like a couple of hours, not long at all, I suddenly realized that it had gone very dark and I thought it must be because there was going to be a Highveld storm. One of those that we are famous for – you know when suddenly the thick black clouds come over and then the rain comes down in sheets for about 10 minutes and then the sun comes out to play again? Sadly it wasn’t! What it was, was the onset of night – in fact it was after 7pm. I had sat in front of my computer playing on twitter and going from site to side from around 5.30am to after 7pm without eating or drinking anything. Needless to say, no work had been done for the day either and I gave myself a helleva fright.

The solution to the problem of course was clear, I went out and bought myself one of those oven timer clocks and limited my use of twitter to 15 minutes a day. When the clock alarm goes off, it doesn’t matter where I am and what I am reading, I have to close the site down! Addictive it is and I am not the only one to say this either!

Over the next couple of weeks, I will be sharing some of the things that you can do with Twitter – I hope you will stick around and enjoy the journey with me.

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