Tuesday, September 30, 2014

BUSINESS TIPS – Creating a Successful Team – Part 2

BUSINESS TIPS – Creating a Successful Team – Part 2

By Nikki Viljoen – Viljoen Consulting CC March 2010

Following on from last week, here are some more tips on how to get the best out of your team.

My ‘baby’ brother is a Senior International Partner at Deloittes in Australia and I am immensely proud of him.  We chat often and as I tell him of what is happening in my life and what I am achieving and he always says “Well done Nikki!”  The first time he said it I was amused – I mean, here I am – his ‘big’ sister and he is the one that is praising me (not that I never praised him or congratulated him, you understand).  It did make me feel good though (and it still does).  I guess that we, as the human beings, still always need to be acknowledged in some way or another.  Even though your staff are members of a team, remember that they still remain individuals and as individuals they still need to be encouraged.

When a member of your team does something correctly or their job performance is good, give them recognition.  This tells them (and all their colleagues) that you are aware of what is going on and that you have noticed that they are doing well.  Congratulations and praise should be given as soon as possible and if you have motivated them with promises of a reward, be sure to give that reward as soon as they have achieved the objective.  Holding onto a reward that should have been given in the hopes that it will spur them onto achieving more objectives will not work and in all probability will have a negative effect.  So don’t do it.

As someone who prefers to work alone, one of my biggest challenges is  to delegate.  Think about it for a moment though – you have a team, more importantly, you are part of a team.  Each member of the team (including you) has specific tasks that they need to perform.  If you were able to complete the project all by yourself, you would not need the team – therefore you have to ‘give up’ a lot of the tasks that you would normally perform to the various team members that those tasks fall under.  They are no longer your tasks.  Giving up those tasks will also free up time for you to do the important tasks that fall under your particular portfolio – so if it’s not on your portfolio, then  it’s not your task – give it to someone else or hand it over to the person that it belongs to.  Delegating things successfully will show your staff that you trust them to do their work (and any other tasks that you give them) properly.  It will give them confidence in their abilities and will generally assist with motivating them as well.

Just like any successful democracy, the whole team should be involved in the decision making.  Yes you are ultimately responsible for the outcomes and the deliverables and everything else that goes with that, but you need the ‘buy in’ of the team and that will never happen if they are not part of the decision making.  Remember they are the ones that have to do the physical work and if they are just ‘told’ what to do, without understanding the ‘why’ and the consequences they will become disgruntled.

Next week we will look at the final few tips on Creating a Successful team.

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

Monday, September 29, 2014

Motivation - The Doer


By Nikki Viljoen of N Viljoen Consulting CC

Vince Lombardi says “It is time for us to stand and cheer for the doer, the achiever and the one who recognizes the challenge and does something about it.”

I don’t know how you guys feel, but quite frankly I am sick to death of the whole debate (or even non-debate) around the state of the economy right now.  I was at a client last week and his phone rang.  Before he even asked the caller “how are you” he answered a question with “ja I know, this economy and the credit crunch is getting to all of us.”

I was gobsmacked!  We are getting like the Capetonians and their weather!  You cannot have a conversation without it coming up.  Yet look around you, every single road you turn down is having some sort of construction being done to it or a building going up in it.  Now what does that tell you?  Well it tells me that the economy here in South Africa is not as bad as it might be else where.  Every time you look at a newspaper there is another story of someone having stolen millions – now if there are ‘millions’ to steal, then there must be money somewhere.

Then of course there are the conspiracy theories, and I must admit I do enjoy these a whole lot more than the usual moaners and groaners.  At least these have a story that you can relate to or even find so far fetched as to render them completely funny! 

Personally I am of the opinion that if we spent as much time getting things done as we spend moaning and groaning about whatever it is that we can find to moan and groan about – we would be gazillionaires!  All that hot air and energy that goes to waste all the time could be utilized for a far better purpose I am sure.

Then, not only do we moan and groan about the economy/weather/government/taxes (insert whatever else you would like to here), when we see someone else doing well, we moan about that too!

Instead of finding out why it is that they are being successful and trying to emulate their particular formula, we sit down and moan about how lucky they are and how unlucky we are and . . . .  there we go again.

Let’s change our mindsets shall we, let’s find at least one person everyday that we can say “Well done! You’ve done a great job!” to. Let’s find one person a day – I mean how difficult can that be – to congratulate on achieving something and really be pleased for them.  Let’s find one person who has had a thought about doing something differently and pat them on the back and give them encouragement to go forward.

And then, whilst we doing that – how about we give ourselves encouragement and congratulations and even a pat on the back for finding something right with our day and not always focusing on the bad.

Just one thing, one person, one day!  We can do 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

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Motivation - If you can dream it

MOTIVATION – If You Can Dream It

By Nikki Viljoen of N Viljoen Consulting CC November 2009

One of the most profound sayings that I know of is Walt Disney’s “If you can DREAM it, you can DO it.”

This certainly is one of the motivational tips that resonates the most with me – and boy do I love to dream.  It is my most favorite part of the day.  When I am lying in my bed at night, just before I slip into ‘lala land’ (if I am extremely lucky you understand), in that place between being awake and being asleep that I love to call ‘the twilight zone’, where I allow my mind to wonder to all the delicious possibilities that are available, and believe me when I tell you there are millions!  I doubt very much that there is a single night that I don’t go to sleep with a huge big grin on my face and that I think, is very good for the soul!

Sadly, even in this day and age, there are still millions of people out there, who never mind don’t have even a single dream, but worse still, they have no idea how to dream.  People who are caught up in their mundane lives, who are so busy putting ‘one foot in front of the other’ in order to stay alive, so focused and intent on just existing that there is no room for anything else.  Or, what about those folk who have been so damaged by life that they do not think that they deserve anything good in their lives, much less even the notion that they too can dream?  Then of course you have the people who do not even believe in dreams, people who are so cynical about the magical aspects of life that they cannot even begin to understand how important it is to dream.  My heart really does go out to all of these – I could not even being to imagine my life without my dreams.

Here’s the thing though – it’s no good just dreaming!  Sure it’s a lot of fun and sure it feeds the mystical, magical, fantasy side of our lives, but in order to have those dreams become a reality (the ones that you do want to be part of your reality that is, not the ones about the flying red dragons), then you have to do something with them, about them and to them, in order for them to become the reality.  There has to be some sort of action on your part.  You have to become (if you’re not one already) a ‘doer’!   You have to create the ‘space’ for the dream to become a reality and I think for most, therein lies the challenge.

Think about it for a moment – how would you feel about reading a book that has no ending!  You get all caught up in the twists and turns, the plots and the pleasures, the drama and seductions and as you get to the most critical stage, you turn the page and . . . .  nothing.  You hastily turn the page back, believing that you have missed something, that you have done something wrong and no, there it is the twists and turns, the plot and the pleasures and you turn the page again, hoping that the tale continues and there, as plain as day, staring right back at you, a blank page! 

That for me is what happens when a dream is not turned into reality.  Irritation at having been brought this far down the road and then left dangling, the plot not realized, the twists and turns only half completed and the story that started off rich and vibrant and full of life brought to an abrupt end.

So remember that the dream that you want to turn into reality, must be brought to fruition, the tale needs to unfold and the story needs to have an ending and quite honestly, whichever ending that you need to write will be the right one for you – it’s all about the choices that you make and how you want the dream to end.  So put in the effort, make it happen.  Dream the dream but don’t forget to turn the dream into your reality.

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

Saturday, September 27, 2014

MOTIVATION – I believe we change


By Nikki Viljoen of N Viljoen Consulting CC

It is said that “we don’t have to change friends if we understand that friends change.”

Well in my book, so do we.  We change!  We grow and move forward.  Sometimes we stop dead in our tracks and need to be kick-started to get going again and sometimes something happens and we even go back wards. 

Think about it for a moment.  As children we learn and as we learn we grow – both physically and emotionally.  What was really important to us as children growing up is usually nothing that we get up tight about as teenagers.  Our understanding of our immediate environment and the people in it change as we grow.

Then as teenagers, the hormones kick in and we swing like a great big pendulum, going from ecstatic highs to dangerous lows, very seldom spending any length of time, balanced, somewhere in the middle.

Once the hormones settle down and we become more emotionally stable and enter young adulthood, what seemed like a ‘life and death’ situation as a teenager usually becomes nothing more than a slight embarrassment as we think back to what we were so ready to give our very lives for – presuming of course that we can actually remember the incident at all!

Then as adults we grow as we experience day to day life and the trials and tribulations that we set up for ourselves.  From each experience we learn (hopefully) and we grow. 

As we grow we change, hopefully for the better, and we morph into who and what it is that we want to become. 

Friendships that were forged in our youth often do not survive to adulthood and this is because as individuals, we grow at different speeds, and often in different directions.

We expect others around us, our family, our friends and colleagues to accept us for what and whom we are, at any given moment in our lives and yet there appears to be this problem that we have in seeing and accepting the changes that our friends, family and colleagues have also gone through to become what they are.

We all change, whether it is for the better or for the worse – it is entirely up to us.  Let us embrace that change both in ourselves and in our friends.  Let us accept the changes in both ourselves and in our friends.  Let us be all that we can be and accept our friends just as they are.

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

Friday, September 26, 2014

HR 101 - Out with the Old, In with the New – Part 2


WHAT TO DO WHEN . . . . Out with the Old, In with the New – Part 2

By Nikki Viljoen of Viljoen Consulting CC October 2009

So following on from last week – let’s have a look at some of the other changes that were made to the Act that received a typical ‘knee jerk’ reaction.  They are (but not limited to).

Employees are entitled to refuse to do the work of colleagues who are on strike.

This, quite frankly is another favourite of mine and it honestly takes me back a few decades to my Corporate life, in the bank and the again in the retail sector.

Here are the stories:

During the late 70’s and early 80’s, I worked in one of the ‘lesser’ known banks in Cape Town.  Those of you who were around at the time, will remember that here in South Africa we were in the middle of the apartheid era and life certainly was very different to what it is now.

Strikes and protests, although not quite the order of the day yet, were still fairly frequent and of course very disruptive.  Imagine working in a job that is quite pressurized (I was a clerk in the foreign exchange department at the time and the Koeberg Nuclear Power Station was in the throes of being built) and then having to take on a share of the work of the 5 or 6 employees who went on strike at every opportunity.

Working even longer than usual on a indefinite basis (who knew when the strike would end) doing work that was not mine and that I often did not even fully understand, often brought out huge resentment which would then be directed both at management, for putting me under this added pressure and for making me do work that was not mine and that I did not enjoy and my agitation was also directed at my striking colleagues, who by their striking actions, had put me in this position.

As you can imagine, inter office relationships deteriorated, both between colleagues and then also between management and employees and it actually resulted in many of the staff resigning (ironically, never the striking ones) and they were replaced by more staff who would also go on strike.  It was an absolute relief when I was offered another position in another ‘lesser’ known bank in Johannesburg.

The second story is about when I was in the wholesale retail sector in the early 90’s. The apartheid era was coming to a close, but it was during the time when strikes and protests were the order of the day.  I was, at the time a Senior Manager with around 50 employees working for me and more than half of these belonged to the unions and went on strike on a regular basis.

We were instructed to ‘share’ the work amongst the remaining staff and it pretty much also cause the same sort of problems that were caused in the previous story, but it gets worse.

You see, I still take pride in the work that I produce, irrespective of whether it is my work to produce or not, in the first place.  Unfortunately, that cannot be said about the rest of the general workforce out there and the result of that was that most of the work had to be re-done, which caused even more delays and producing even more hostility.

Clearly forcing employees to do the work of striking colleagues is not good for morale and it is not good for the business.

So how do we turn this around and make it work for us.  Well here’s the thing – when employees strike it’s a ‘no work, no pay’ kind of situation.  Doesn’t it then make sense to hire a bunch of temps and/or casuals to do the absolute necessary of what needs to be done.

Here’s the deal then – getting other people in also provides the employer with a unique opportunity to observe prospective future employees at work and also in unusual circumstances.  How cool is that?

Next week we will have a look at some of the other changes that were made to the law.

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

Thursday, September 25, 2014

HR 101 - Out with the Old, In with the New – Part 1


WHAT TO DO WHEN . . . . Out with the Old, In with the New – Part 1

By Nikki Viljoen of Viljoen Consulting CC October 2009

One of the most incorrect perceptions and the one that is most often uttered is that the Labour Relations Act (LRA) favours the employee.

In 1995, the old Labour Relations Act that was created in 1956 was scrapped by the new ANC government and a new act was put into place.  The new act is the Labour Relations Act of 1995.  Yes the act does more to protect the employee from unscrupulous employers, but the new LRA also protects the employer – now how is that for a mind shift?

Granted the new law also meets the Labour Movements Agenda, but that said, if the employer follows the basic rules, the employer is also protected from the employee.

Here’s the way that I see it: -
The law, the way it was, was fundamentally flawed and very lopsided and very much in favour of the employer.  The law today is a lot fairer to both the employer and the employee.

Yes it is different!  The biggest difference is the fact that employers now have to know the law and they have to follow the procedures.  Here’s a thought – if people spent as much time learning the basics of the law and implementing policies and procedures in order to implement that law, as they do moaning about the fact that the law has changed, they would find themselves in an incredibly strong and empowered position.

Some of the protection for employees is (but not limited to):

“Employees are entitled to join and participate in legitimate trade union activity without fear of being fired for this.”

Now most of us look at the unions as a bad thing.  Me, I think that they are fabulous!  I can just see everybody looking at me as though I have lost the plot!  The truth is though, that as much as the unions can cause a lot of perhaps uncomfortable moments for the employer and that they are most definitely on the side of the employee, they also have a responsibility to the employer.  Employers can hold the trade union responsible for the behaviour of the employees.  How’s that for a thought?

If you as an employer have staff, who are members of a trade union – use the trade unions to get your message across to your staff.  Staff, who are not performing put themselves at risk in terms of their employment contracts.  Employers have the right to have employees that perform in terms of the requirements of the job and it is incumbent upon the trade unions to ensure that their members meet these requirements.

So once again, instead of moaning and griping about how bad the trade unions are, turn it around, use the trade unions to make your staff aware of your requirements and also, that these requirements if not met, have serious consequences.

Next week we will have a look at some of the other changes that were made to the law.

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

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Networking 101 - Respect your Competition



Respect your Competition

By Nikki Viljoen of N Viljoen Consulting CC

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

“Be respectful of the competition. Give credit, where it is due.”

Apart from anything else, this is just good manners! That said, let’s examine why Renate says this.

So, here I am – an Internal Auditor and Business Administration Specialist, working in the SMME arena.  Since I am the only one that I know of in this field, doing this particular work – life is a bowel of cherries – I don’t have any competition, my diary is pretty full and life is great.

Then one day as I am going along on my merry way, I meet Jane Doe, who does (yes you’ve guessed it) Internal Auditing and Business Administration!  So now I find myself a little corner that I hurriedly rush into to hide from my mortal enemy, who is going to steal all of my business from right under my nose, or I go out on a hell bent type mission to discredit her, trash her name, doing any and all that may be necessary to get her out of business!

Well I guess that there are some folk out there that would do exactly that, but that just seems like too much hard work to me – besides which, whilst I was busy doing all of that, Jane Doe would be working her butt off and getting business and doing really well – so what would I have achieved at the end of the day?

Knowing me, I would probably give her a call and set up a ‘one on one’ meeting.  Find out where her strengths and weaknesses are and set about exchanging ideas, material and even clients. 

You see, chances are that my weaknesses are her strengths and visa versa, and she has material (like policies, procedures and templates) that I don’t have and visa versa. I may have clients that want a ‘quick’ turnaround and I am strapped for time which means that instead of working through the night every second night, like I did in December, I can actually share the load.  Then of course when I want to go on holiday, instead of everything coming to a grinding halt – she could actually keep everything running and I could do the same when she wanted a break!

For me this is a win, win situation and instead of getting myself into a real tizz about nothing, I could turn the whole thing around and work it to my advantage – a far better outcome don’t you think?

Think about it for a moment, exactly where would I have been if I had been disrespectful or bad mouthed her – pretty much in a really horrible place.  Competition doesn’t have to be a nasty experience – it can be a real keeper!

For more information on Renate, please visit her website at http://www.drrenatevolpe.co.za

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

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

BUSINESS TIPS – Creating a Successful Team – Part 1

BUSINESS TIPS – Creating a Successful Team – Part 1

By Nikki Viljoen – Viljoen Consulting CC February 2010

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, September 22, 2014

Motivation - Making the Decision

MOTIVATION –  Making the  Decision

By Nikki Viljoen of N Viljoen Consulting CC – September 2011

Harvey Mackay says “People begin to become successful the minute they decide to be.”

Yes – actually it is that simple! I think that for most of us, certainly for me, this is true.  We have been conditioned to believe that being successful is hard work, and I suppose that to some degree there is a certain amount of work that needs to be done, but for me – the mindset is what is most important.

We’ve all heard, and I am sure even uttered the words on occasion “It can’t be that easy!”  When things just seem to slot in, or fall into place – that lucrative deal that you have signed just as the previous one was ending, or even more unusual, robots turning green just as you are about to apply the brakes – all way to work or home!

I have learnt over the years that it is actually that easy.  When my mindset is right and I am going in the right direction – things just seems to fall into place.  When I am totally committed to what it is that I am doing, my plans are in place and I am mentally geared up – things seem to be very easy.

It’s when I am not sure, or hesitant, when I haven’t done as much research as I probably should have or I am not completely sure of what it is that I am doing that I tend to second guess myself.

When I second guess myself is when the doubts start creeping in – you know which ones I mean, not only the ones that I am prepared to vocalize and get out onto the table, but also those that I very seldom admit to - even to myself – those that I grapple with and do battle with in the dead of the night.

By the time it gets to that point, I know on every level that I am ‘dead’ in the water and that there is no way that whatever it is that I am doing, is going to be successful. You see, I have on some level decided that I cannot do it! That is the decision that has been made and therefore that is the decision that will be successful.

So here’s the bottom line – if it is success that you are looking for then clearly that is the decision that needs to be made.

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

Sunday, September 21, 2014

MOTIVATION – Getting Started

MOTIVATION –  Getting Started

By Nikki Viljoen of N Viljoen Consulting CC – April 2010

Mark Twain says “The secret of getting ahead is getting started.  The secret of getting started is breaking your complex overwhelming tasks into small manageable tasks, then starting on the first one.”

The story of “How to eat an elephant” and its subsequent answer of “one bite at a time” springs to mind and it is exactly how you get ahead.

No matter how big the dream, you have to break it down into small ‘bite sized’ chunks.  Same with any problems and/or challenges that you have, no matter how big or unmanageable, break it down, once it’s broken down, choose a ‘bite sized’ chunk and deal with it.  Make it your goal, to not even look at the other pieces until you have dealt with and resolved that particular one.  Write all your ‘bite sized’ pieces down and as you deal with each one, mark it off – that way you will be able to see and even measure your progress and as each one is marked off, you will find yourself feeling lighter and more optimistic and less stressed about what it is that you still have to achieve.

I know that we often get caught up in the emotion or the drama of the situation or the issue at hand.  Often the problem or the dream appears to be so large that it becomes overwhelming and often what happens then is that we become afraid of our own success.

Okay – that’s a biggie!  Let me say that again – we become afraid of our own success!

Crazy as that may sound or even as it may be on the surface, the reality for many of us is that as soon as we realize the magnitude of the dream and/or the potential, we back off in fear of success.  Statements like ‘this is too big for me’ or ‘It can’t be this easy or someone else would have done/thought of it before’ rattle around in our heads and the magnificent size and breath taking magnitude of the dream or opportunity, literally knocks the wind out of our sails.

Step away from the dream, take a big breath, break it down and systematically work with and deal with each piece, one at a time.  Yes, look up from time to time to keep your eye on the ultimate prize, don’t be scared to look at it, but deal with it, slowly and surely and just ‘one bite at a 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

Saturday, September 20, 2014

MOTIVATION – Honesty is best


By Nikki Viljoen of N Viljoen Consulting CC

It is said that ‘no matter the consequences, those who are honest with themselves, get farther in life.”

I am sure that you will have noticed that it says “who are honest with themselves.” – that’s not to say that should then feel the need to be dishonest with those around you.  I think that it means that you have to be honest with yourself before you really expect others to be honest with you.

Before you can reach your full potential you have to understand and therefore be honest with yourself regarding  your driving factors, such as but not limited to:

What is my passion?
What’s in it for me?
What are my goals?
What do I hope to achieve?
Why am I doing this?

These questions cannot be answered untruthfully if you are hoping to achieve anything of significance.

Strategies and plans will not achieve any level of sustainability and goals will not be met if the very foundations that they are built upon are one of deceit.  Perceptions and expectations will not be met and even if you did achieve some sort of success the taste of victory will be somewhat hollow.

What you achieve as an individual and the level of success is determined by the person that you are.  The kind of person that you are is determined by the values and morals that you have in your life.

So – tell me, actually better yet – tell yourself.  Are you honest with yourself?

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

Friday, September 19, 2014

HR 101 - WHAT TO DO WHEN . . . You Have Contractors Working on your Premises – Part 2


WHAT TO DO WHEN . . . . You Have Contractors Working on your Premises – Part 2

By Nikki Viljoen of Viljoen Consulting CC September 2009

Moving along from last week, when we saw Philip, George the Contractor’s employee fall from a ladder when it’s one leg shattered, and hurt himself quite badly.  Mike who owns the retail outlet where Philip had his accident may very well be liable for all Philips medical and recovery bill and we are taking a look at how he can protect himself from this.

Apparently there are six ways to ensure that Mike is covered from every possibility and it is these that we are going to have a look at in greater detail today.

First and most obvious is to ensure that your contractors have signed a contract with yourself (have a look at http://www.agreementsonline.co.za).  This contract must include (but not be limited to) the section 37(2) agreement, as we discussed last week, which states that the contractor will comply with all the health and safety laws and your own company rules. 

The contract should also document that it is incumbent upon the contractor to supply you with a copy of their ‘Certificate of Good Standing’ from the Compensation Commissioner which is his proof that he is registered with Workmen’s Compensation.

Make sure that your contractors employees have been properly trained in the task that you are hiring them for.  Make sure that they are included in any Health & Safety training that you may be doing with your own staff and that they are aware of your Company safety and health rules.

Make sure that your contractors are compliant in terms of the law.  This includes (but is not limited to) things like First Aid kits and how to use them, fire drills, protective clothing and so on.

Make sure that the contractor that you have hired is fully aware of what his/her obligation are in terms of his responsibilities to his employees and his responsibility if one of your employees are hurt during the course of his employees activities.

If necessary make yourself a checklist of what is required on your site (in Mike’s case his new store) in order to ensure that you are in compliance with the Health and Safety Act.

Failure to do this could result in some very heavy medical bills, rehabilitation bills and additional salary bills that have not been budgeted for.

Remember that although getting all your policies, procedures and templates in place is usually far more cost effective than paying the reactive bill.

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

Thursday, September 18, 2014

HR 101 - WHAT TO DO WHEN . . . You Have Contractors Working on your Premises – Part 1


WHAT TO DO WHEN . . . . You Have Contractors Working on your Premises – Part 1

By Nikki Viljoen of Viljoen Consulting CC September 2009

According to the law, if you have contractors working on your premises you are liable for their health and safety.

Here’s the story

Mike owns a retail store in a busy mall.  Mike’s business is doing really well and the store next to his has become available and Mike decides that he needs to expand his operation into that space.

So Mike hires George, the contractor and soon work begins.  Mike is really impressed at the way George and his team go about getting the work done.

Within hours there are ladders all over the place and workers are going about their specific tasks.  All of a sudden, there is a loud CRACK/SNAP and a ladder collapses as one of its legs shatters.  Phillip, who is on the top of the ladder, doing something in the ceiling, falls some three meters and lands on the concrete floor with a loud THUD.  Phillip’s one leg is lying at a very odd angle beneath the rest of his body and it is clearly broken and it is also clear that he is hurt badly.  The ambulance is summoned and Phillip is rushed off to hospital.

Now we get to the serious bit – the money.  Who is responsible for what?  Here’s the thing, if George, the contractor is not compliant in terms of the Health and Safety Act, then Mike is liable and responsible for all the costs including but not limited to, the cost of the accident, medical costs, rehabilitation costs and even 75% of employees wages.

Let’s see what Mike has to do in order to ensure that he will not be held financially accountable and/or liable for the safety and health of the contractors working in his store.

One of the things that Mike should have included in this procurement policy is that the contractor (in this case George), would need to sign a Section 37(2) agreement.  The agreement would need to state (but not be limited to) that the contractor will comply with all health and safety laws and company rules (in this case Mike’s Company).  Mike should also insist in obtaining a certified copy of George’s “Certificate of Good Standing” from the Compensation Commissioner, which will evidence that the contractor (in this case George) is in fact registered and compliant with the Workmen’s Compensation fund Act.

Next week we will have a look at some of the other issues that Mike should include in his Contractor Procurement Policy to ensure that everything is managed correctly and that Mike is in no way liable for anything other than the Contractors invoice.

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

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Networking 101 - The Value of Your Network



The Value of Your Network

By Nikki Viljoen of N Viljoen Consulting CC

What about the true value of your network?  Do you know how to ascertain if the person you are talking to has such a thing?  In fact do you know what the true value of your network is?

For me, the value of my network is evidenced by the number of people who talk about me even when I am not there.  The members of my network refer me all the time and tell others of how I have referred them and what that has done for them as individuals and for their businesses. 

I was at a networking function a couple of weeks ago and Helen Nicholson, who I consider one of the ‘guru’s’ of networking was the speaker.  After her speech I grabbed an opportunity to have a quick chat with her and catch up.  Her opening statement to me was “I hear that you are extremely busy!”  Thinking that she had been talking to one of my friends I asked her who had told her and she relied saying “Everyone I meet with is talking about you, so you must be very busy!”

Here is the true value of my network at work.  People are talking about me, referring me, referring each other.  This is networking at its most powerful.

So tell me about your network, better yet – have a good look at your network.  What do you do for them and what do they do for you.  What is the value of your network?

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

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Business Tips - Creating a Budget

BUSINESS TIPS – Creating A Budget

By Nikki Viljoen – Viljoen Consulting CC December 2009

For many of us who were employees before we became SMME’s or Entrepreneurs, creating a budget was something that we perhaps did on a monthly basis.  It was all that we needed because we were assured of a fixed income at the end of each and every month.

As an SMME however, especially when we are starting out, we do not know what to expect.  We can always theorize about what we would like to have coming in as income, but we do have quite a bit of control over what will be going out.  It is really is a good idea to know exactly how much your need to be coming in to be able to pay the basic bills.  So creating a 12 month budget is a good idea.

Having a 12 month budget will allow you to plan and strategize what you need and want to do for the following twelve months.  Creating a 12 month budget is not something that you should do when you have some spare time, but rather something that you should allocate time to do.  It should be seen as something that is critical to your business, rather than something that is viewed as a waste of time.  It will assist you in ensuring that your business has a manageable and sustainable financial plan.

For me the challenge always is just to get started.  If you are not sure about what you are doing, it is really easy to procrastinate.  So book it in your diary and just get going.

First of all you need to know what your profit/loss format is.  Don’t panic – it is not as scary as it sounds.  You start with your income – take what you charge for your product and/or service, less your cost of sale (which is the cost of the goods sold or the cost to you, in order to supply the service), less your overhead expenses.  This is your net income (also known as profit).

Don’t forget to list all of your expenses or the expenses that you expect to have during the next 12 months and also your projected income.  Then in order to ensure that you don’t overstate your income, it is always a good idea to validate it.  So for example if you predict that your income in July is going to be say R20 000.00, you need to list how that R20 000.00 is made up.  In other words, what you are going to do in order to bring that money into the company. Be careful that you don’t underestimate your expenses – be realistic about your expectations – it is always better to come in under budget on your expenses and over budget on your income than the other way around.

Remember to compare your actual monthly figures to your predicted theoretical figures.  This will be of real value to you, firstly to ensure that you keep your sales figures up and your expenses down and secondly it will assist you in the compilation of the following year’s budget.

As a business owner myself, I am all too aware of the demands on my time and how critical it is to manage my time effectively.  That said, I have learnt the hard way, just how costly it is, both financially and also from a time point of view, if the financial side of the business is not managed effectively and properly.

If numbers and the financial side of things is not one of your strengths, I promise you it is in your own best interests to find someone (either an employee or a bookkeeper or better yet an accountant) to assist you or get yourself on some sort of “Financial Literacy” workshop so that you have the basic knowledge of what is happening in the financial side of your company.  Believe me without it, you will be lost and that is surely the quickest recipe for disaster.

You are responsible for the financial well being of your company – at the very least you should be able to have a basic understanding of 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

Monday, September 15, 2014

MOTIVATION – Victory Over Oneself

MOTIVATION –  Victory Over Oneself

By Nikki Viljoen of N Viljoen Consulting CC – August 2011

Lao Tzu says “He who gains a victory over other men is strong; but he who gains a victory over himself is all powerful.”

There have been several programs on TV over the last few months that have been about bullying and they were all somehow focused on the victim.  Let’s take one of them as an example – I think it was one of the Private Practice shows a couple of weeks ago.  There was this young chap (let’s call him Eric) around 14 who had lost his father at the age of 8 (or so) and now it was just him and his mum.  His dad had gotten him interested in Japanese comic strips and it was something that he continued on his own.  The kids at school really didn’t ‘get it’ and he became the butt of their jokes and because he didn’t react in any way, pretty soon the ‘jokes’ became violent and he was being taunted and beaten up on a regular basis.

Eric’s mum’s way of dealing with this was to take her son out of harm’s way and the result was that over a period of 2 years, Eric changed schools 8 times.  Not a good situation, I am sure you will agree.  As Eric moved from school to school, he became more and more the ‘butt’ of the bullies and not having any time to form any of his own roots and find friends who had similar interests, meant that he was on his own more of the time and being on his own, made him more susceptible to being the prey of bullies, and so the cycle continued.

Eric eventually started making up ‘pains’ and fevers to get out of school and his mother eventually took him off to see a doctor.  The doctor (let’s call him Phil) happened to be a child psychologist and when Phil examined Eric for his  so called ‘stomach ache’ the truth came out. Phil told Eric that he needed to ‘stand up’ for himself and that bullies, when confronted, would usually back down and he would then be left alone.  Good advice, I am sure you will agree – but this is a TV program, so of course it didn’t work like that.

Eric, in an attempt to ‘stand up’ for himself, took a knife to school and of course he was busted by one of the teachers.  Mother dearest was furious with Dr. Phil, because this was of course all of his fault, and would not allow Eric to see the doctor again and of course to ensure a good dose of drama, Eric attempted to commit suicide.

As he regained consciousness Eric spoke to Phil and explained how he felt that he could not meet anyone who he could connect with at school because his mum kept moving him and Phil explained that the first step would be to ‘stand up’ to his mother.  Eric’s mum, of course only wanted to keep her son safe and again wanted him to move to another school. 

Eric, eventually stepped up to the plate and convinced his mother that this was something he had to do for himself, he had to overcome his own fears and he had to face his tormentors, without showing them any fear, and he had to find ‘the others’ like himself – he could no longer run and he could only do this if she left him in the same school.

The message for me, was very clear – there is a very wrong and a very right way to gain victory over your enemies, but in order for that to happen you have to gain victory over yourself and (as in this case) it meant Eric facing his own fears and gaining control over them.

Gaining a measure of control over myself, my fears and insecurities was one of the biggest steps forward that I took and for what it’s worth, it made my (at that point) self esteem soar.  I felt as though I had conquered the world and that made me feel and react differently and that made other people see me in a totally different light altogether.

So the next time you feel tiny and insignificant in the face of the world, remember to gain control of your fears, of yourself and that victory will carry you through any kind of adversity.

You will be all powerful because you will be victorious over your biggest enemy – yourself!

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

Sunday, September 14, 2014

MOTIVATION – How to grow


By Nikki Viljoen of N Viljoen Consulting CC – July 2009

Ralph Emerson says “Unless you try to do something beyond what you have already mastered, you will never grow.”

Ain’t that the truth! It really makes me mad when I hear people saying things like ‘Some people are born more equal than others’ or ‘He/She’s had it easy because they were born with a silver/gold spoon in their mouths’!  You see I really do believe that we are all ‘born equal’.  Now before you all start beating up on me – hear me out.  I really believe that we all have the potential and the ability to be the best of who/what we can be – that’s all.  I also believe that we can only be judged on our own potential and not that we can be compared to others.  Yet at some point, many of us think that we can just sit back and watch the world go round as we have achieved everything that there is to achieve.  What absolute nonsense!  There is always something more.

Think about it for a moment – when a baby gets to a certain age, they want to do things for themselves and go places by themselves, so they start to crawl and my goodness if any of you ever met my cousin’s youngest – he could really move when he set his mind to it.  We often used to have to run to keep up with him crawling towards his goal (usually his freedom out the kitchen door).  Kids don’t stop there though.  They don’t think – ok, I can crawl now so I have achieved my goal and that’s as far as I am going to go – I’ll just sit here and for the rest of my life just crawl to where-ever I need to go!  They then at some point stand up and then walk and pretty soon they start to run.  I remember as a child always falling over – I was pretty much just gangly legs at that stage, and my parents were forever telling me to walk and not run – but hey, I had places to go and interesting things to see and do and time was a-wasting, so I ran.

To this day I run – ok, so don’t take that literally, I don’t much like to physically run anymore, but my mind certainly still runs.  There are so many new things to see or to learn.  So many more books that I want to read (most people laugh when they see my reading list, it runs to 26 typed pages), so many new ideas that I want to see reach their full potential. 

So many new things that I want to try.  There are discussions that I want to have with people and debates on controversial subjects that I would love to sink my teeth into.  There are countries that I want to visit and some that I need to re-visit.  There are people that I would love to meet and dishes that I would love to sample.  There are movies that I want to watch or I suppose I could just sit there and say, well I’m done – then what?

Na-ah, not for me – whilst there is still time in the day (or the night for that matter), there is time to do things - for me. Things that will challenge me, make me stretch my brain and make me grow as an individual. 

Things that will help to make me be all that I can be – and then some.

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

Saturday, September 13, 2014



By Nikki Viljoen of N Viljoen Consulting CC

It is said that sometimes the people you think might kick you when you’re down, will be the very ones to help you get back up!

For me this is all about judgment and perception.  You see, I think that people have perceptions about other people based on things like, the way they dress.  So someone is judged by what they are wearing and the perception is that they would never assist or have the empathy and/or compassion to help a fellow human being!  How bizarre!

I believe that perception is how facts are interpreted and that if those facts are not looked at in their entirety then they are often distorted and that that is why perceptions are so often skewered.

I am often amused at the way that others see me, for example.  As an Internal Auditor, there seems to be an expectation of how I should behave, how I should dress and on some levels, even how I should think.  That expectation is never met when they actually meet me and dare I say it, get to know me and that can cause a huge amount of confusion.

You see, often people think that I should be a quiet, shy introvert who dresses very conservatively and who thinks inside the box.  The reality of the situation is that although I am an introvert, I am really not the shy or quiet – I say what I feel and tell it ‘like it is’.  I am a jeans and t-shirt kind of girl and for me thinking in or out of the box is not an option – there is no box!  I mean think about it for the moment – logically speaking, would you expect every single Internal Auditor on the planet to look, behave and think in exactly the same manner?  If you really had to stop and think about it, I really don’t think that anyone would actually think like that and yet the expectation persists.

I think that we as individuals have to change our mindsets and our judgments and drop the blinkers, allowing ourselves to really look and see a person for who and what they are, instead of just making a judgment call before all the facts are in.  I have no doubt that if we allowed this to happen, we would no longer be amazed to receive help and assistance from people who we ‘thought’ would kick us when we were down.

Give people the benefit of the doubt and allow them to be who they actually are, rather than who you perceive them to be.

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

Friday, September 12, 2014

HR 101 - It’s How You Play The Game – Part 2


WHAT TO DO WHEN . . . . It’s How You Play The Game – Part 2

By Nikki Viljoen of Viljoen Consulting CC September 2009

Following on from last week – the decision on the part of the Arbitrator and/or Commissioner is particularly unfair and in this instance it is incumbent upon the ‘wronged’ party (be it the employer or the employee) to challenge the decision via a review at the Labour Court.

What does this mean?

Well for starters the challenge can be made on the grounds that the Arbitrator took a bribe, or was biased, or that there was important information and/or evidence that was ignored and/or that he/she failed to arrive at a reasonable or proper award. You see the CCMA Arbitrator has to ‘weigh up’ and consider all the evidence, both oral and documentary, prior to embarking upon the process of making factual findings.


•    The Arbitrator cannot be about his/her own opinion, but rather based on the facts presented.
•    The decision must be made by following reason and not based on fantasy, guesswork, ‘hallucination’ or speculation of any kind.
•    The Arbitrator must have applied his/her mind seriously to the issues at hand and not treat them or the charges as some sort of joke.
•    The Arbitrator is required to justify his/her findings in a defensible and logical manner. He/she must be able to give solid reasons for the decision that he/she has come to and why.
•    The decisions must comply with the law
•    The decisions must be rational

Now here’s the kicker – the Arbitrator’s reasons for giving all of these decisions must be given at the time that he/she renders the decision, otherwise it can be assumed that he/she did not actually have a good reason.

The bottom line is that the both parties have the right to know why/how the Arbitrator came to his/her decision against them so that they can decide whether or not and/or how to challenge the decision that has been reached.

This is one of the controls that have been put into place to try and ensure that Arbitrators don’t make ‘faulty’ decisions.  The thinking is that if the Arbitrator has to explain his/her actions he/she will be less likely to ignore or misrepresent the facts and evidence that was put before them and ensure that a fair decision is reached.

So the Arbitrator has to have considered all the serious objections and all the alternatives to the decision that they have made.  They have to provide a rational connection between the facts that were presented and their ruling.

This also places a requirement on employers and that is that they too must have good reason when acting against employees and they too must be able to provide these reasons clearly and comprehensively to the Arbitrator.

For the employer, this means having all their ducks in a row, facts and evidence readily and professionally at hand and good presentation skills.  Emotion does not play any part here – simply state the facts and back them up with the evidence, witnesses and whatever else that you have at hand.  This will show the Arbitrator that you have followed the procedures correctly and your reasoning for instituting disciplinary measures and he/she, will in all probability will have to follow the your line of reasoning.

In this way, you as the employer help the arbitrator find in your favour.

Of course, this does mean that the employer has to ensure that all management decisions are made unemotionally and in line with the law and that all the requirements in terms of policies and procedures have been met.

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

Thursday, September 11, 2014

HR 101 - It’s How You Play The Game – Part 1


WHAT TO DO WHEN . . . . It’s How You Play The Game – Part 1

By Nikki Viljoen of Viljoen Consulting CC September 2009

There are often times that you will end up at the CCMA no matter how closely you follow the rules. Now I know that that sounds a bit harsh, but following the rules doesn’t mean that you will not end up at the CCMA, but what it does mean is that if you do end up at the CCMA, there is less chance of you losing your case.

Sadly there are also many cases where the ‘loser’ at the CCMA is not only disappointed at the verdict but that they also appear to be quite shell shocked!  Most of the time these individuals were extremely confident of success only to have that confidence lying shattered at their feet.

The reality is that often it is not about right and wrong – it’s about how you play the game.  I just heard all the pins drop, the chins drop and the sharp intake of breath being rapidly inhaled and resulting in a shocked gasp!

You see in the majority of cases are lost as a direct result of procedures not being followed, so you lose the case on those grounds.

But what about where you have followed every single rule, I hear you say?  Well here are some of (but not limited to) the main reasons people (both employers and employees) lose their cases.

•    The case was weak without you realizing it or despite the fact that you thought it was a strong case.  Often this is because you did not have your case properly prepared, no documents and/or witnesses to give or confirm your evidence.  Your sense of outrage and your emotion here was actually stronger than the facts in the case.

•    Then of course you have the situation where you actually do have an extremely strong case, the problem is that again you are inadequately prepared.  You don’t have the correct documentation or you failed to present your case in an understandable and/or convincing manner.  Pretty much like representing yourself in a murder case in court.  If you don’t know what you are doing, chances are you will make a mess – so get some help!

•    The worst of the lot is when it is genuinely unfair to the loser.  This is when you have a strong case, you have followed all of the procedures correctly, you have presented it in the proper manner, you are properly prepared with all of the correct documents, you have witnesses who have corroborated your evidence, in fact you have done everything correctly, but the arbitrator has failed to appreciate your case and you lose.

This is the one that you really want to challenge and this is the one that you absolutely have the right to challenge via review at the Labour court.

Next week we will have a look at how to do this.

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

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Networking 101 - Targeting the right people



Targeting the right people

By Nikki Viljoen of N Viljoen Consulting CC

Who are the people that you connect with?  Or perhaps the  question should be who are the people that you target, to connect with?

Most people will say that they are people who would complement your business, or who would be able to give you business or who would generate business for you.  Am I correct?  I thought so!

And if I was correct, then your answer is . . . . . wrong, wrong, wrong!

Look, I know that there are hundreds of people, and probably all the books telling you to focus on being target driven, but the bottom line is very different and if you never listen to another thing I say – listen to this!

Trust your instinct, connections that you wouldn’t normally give the time of day to, will bring the right people into your life far more often than the people who you would expect to connect you.  How’s that for a statement?

I know that many of you will be very sceptical about this, but believe me it’s true.  Let me give you an example.  I have a friend (let’s call her Jane) who imports freeze dried foods for the masses.  We were at a Networking event a couple of weeks ago and at the table was a young lady, let’s call her Sue, who is a fashion designer.  I saw the look on Jane’s face when they introduced themselves because “how could Sue possibly help to get contacts to sell this food by the container load (and it does come by the container load)” and I am sure that all of you are asking the very same question!

Well I am in the process of teaching Jane how to Network and seeing that I am sharing so many of my Networking tips with you, I will share this one with you too.

Think about it people.

Ok, here goes – who goes to a fashion designer to have their clothes designed?  Certainly not me and probably not you.  But the wives of the rich and famous do.  And who best to twist the arm of a cabinet minister, or a member of parliament, or a CEO of a large firm with a big Corporate Social Investment (CSI) budget, if not his loving wife or daughter?  Suddenly the light bulb goes on, doesn’t it?

On the reverse side, and for Jane to be useful to Sue – who is meeting with CEO’s of big corporate companies and ambassadors of foreign countries who have wives and daughters, who would love to have their clothes designed for them and who on earth would Jane recommend?  So another penny drops!

So do not ignore people who have been put into your life, don’t pre-judge.  Get to know them, find out what it is that they do and be a ‘giver’, connect them with as many as you can out of your data base and then watch as they return the favour!  You see when you give to others you give them a reason to be your greatest advertisers – they will sing your praises to everyone at every given opportunity.

I don’t believe that there is such a thing as coincidence or sheer luck, I believe that you make your own luck.  I believe that it is all to do with what you ‘put’ out there, it will attract exactly what it is that you need.

Your greatest marketing tool is yourself and the people that you connect with.  There is no greater or stronger lead than the one that comes from a referral.

So go out and connect today – connect with everyone and open your mind to the possibilities that are everywhere.

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

Tuesday, September 09, 2014

Business Tips - Computer Shortcuts - Part 4

BUSINESS TIPS – Computer Shortcuts – Part 4

By Nikki Viljoen – Viljoen Consulting CC August 2010

Another fabulously positive responsive week I got last week.  Seems I am not the only one who doesn’t know all the shortcuts and tips.  Here are last lot, which makes this one the end of the series.

Last  Up – Outlook Shortcut Keys
Alt + S    Send the mail
Ctrl + C    Copy selected text
Ctrl + X    Cut selected text
Ctrl + P    Open print dialogue box
Ctrl + K    Complete name/e-mail typed in address bar
Ctrl + B    Bold highlighted selection
Ctrl + I    Italicize highlighted selection
Ctrl + U    Underline highlighted selection
Ctrl + R    Reply to an e-mail
Ctrl + F    Forward and e-mail
Ctrl + N    Create a new e-mail
Ctrl + Shift + A    Create a new appointment for your calendar
Ctrl + Shift + O    Open the outbox
Ctrl + Shift + I    Open the inbox
Ctrl + Shift + K    Add a new task
Ctrl + Shift + C    Create a new contact
Ctrl + Shift + J    Create a new journal entry

Again I knew one or two of these, but certainly not the majority and now of course I will also have to irritate the heck out of my IT guy by asking all the ‘what does . . . . . mean?”.

Okay everybody, that’s the end of that, next week we will be looking at something completely different.

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

Monday, September 08, 2014



By Nikki Viljoen of N Viljoen Consulting CC – February 2010

We’ve all heard these words at some point in our lives – hell, I’m sure that on occasion we have uttered them ourselves.  I know I have – in my youth when I entered some or other competition (usually sport for me) and I was up against someone who was really, really good, I would usually give myself a ‘pep’ talk of sorts that had the words ‘come on Viljoen – you know you can do it!’

So why am I telling you all of this?  Simple really – for your own good!  Ok, I’ll stop teasing and get down to it.

Somehow, when we are business owners, these words seem to fly out the window and we are left to our own devices, little puddles on the floor.  Scared witless, petrified that we will fail, that we will fall down, that we will embarrass ourselves and in doing so embarrass friends and family.  We take all the crap that the rest of society hands out like we are second class citizens in our own lives.

I don’t think that there is a day that goes by that we don’t have it thrown in our faces that businesses fail, the percentages of failed new start ups, the numbers flaunted in our faces and yet in the very next breath we are put under tremendously serious pressure when we are told that the economy is dependent on upon our success.  I mean what’s with that?  Why would you do that to somebody? Why would you put the weight of the world upon their shoulders and then just as they are about to take their first wobbly step out into the unknown you chop them off at the knees!

Oh and let’s not forget the big corporate companies, banks and even government who, stand on their soap boxes and pontificate to the world (and/or anyone who wants to listen) on how they are assisting the SMME (small, medium, micro enterprise) and/or the entrepreneur.  All the stuff that they give away such as money, training, freebies and what have you and yet, behind the scenes they are actually crippling and even killing small businesses, when they don’t pay invoices on time and pay 60 or 90 or 120 and even worse in some situations, which means in reality that the small business owner is ‘carrying’ the cash flow of the large corporate, on their shoulders.

What about the various banks who want to be ‘seen’ as doing everything for the SMME in terms of loans and guidance and whatever other words that they can sugar coat to get us to believe what they are saying, only to make it so difficult to qualify for anything that it’s easier to just, ‘go for it’ on your own because it’s a lot less hard on the nerves (not to mention the wallet) in the long run – oh yes, I’m sure they forgot to mention just how much you are going to pay for that ‘help’ that they so lovingly gave.

Often we are so bullied by our colleagues, our so called friends and family, who are just ‘looking out for’ us, that we begin to believe all the BS that get sprouted out of their ‘well intentioned’ mouths that we forget that we actually ‘can’ do it! 

Yes of course we can – actually we have been doing it from the moment we were born.  We have survived, we have grown (usually in length as well as in width *Sigh* as we have grown older).  We have learnt to crawl and learnt to walk and then to run, we have passed exams and played sport and learnt how to read and write and ride bicycles and ridden horses and learnt to drive a motor car, found ourselves a job and met and married the person of our dreams (or not) and had children of our own (or not) and gotten divorced and started our own businesses, which have succeeded or not and yet we have survived – often against all odds.

Let’s put it into a bit of perspective shall we.  There is this child, let’s call her Suzie – she is almost a year old and she is starting to walk.  Her family and their friends all clap when she takes a step or two, they all reach out to steady her if she looks like she is going to wobble or fall over.  They cheer and encourage her when looks like she is hesitating and they even praise her and tell her what a good job she is doing, even when she is actually falling flat on her face.  Here’s the important part – when she does fall flat on her face, they all encourage her to get back up and try again.

You don’t hear anyone saying things like ‘hey Suzie, this walking thing is overrated, most people never learn how to do it, why don’t you just give it a miss and let someone else carry you around for the rest of your life” or “hey Suzie, I don’t think this walking thing is for you, perhaps you should stick to crawling,” or “don’t you think you’re a bit young/inexperienced/wet behind the ears (insert your own issue here) to be doing this – perhaps you should wait a bit and learn from your peers or mentors” or my personal favorite “haven’t you learnt yet that you are going to get hurt – why do you continue to try?”

The worst of it is that by choice, we as SMME’s seem to take pleasure in surrounding ourselves with the very people who, in the name of ‘looking out for us’ are constantly putting us down.  We socialize with those, who have never owned their own businesses themselves and are therefore in no position to give any advice, and yet who constantly tell us how stupid, na├»ve, idiotic we are for trying to do this thing.  Why do we do this to ourselves?  Why, Why, Why?

The reality is that “YES WE CAN” do it.  We can be successful, we have more often than not been successful in the past, and you know what, even if we do fall over, make a silly decision, trust someone that we perhaps shouldn’t, we are survivors.  We can overcome any obstacle, we can get up again and go forward and the best of all, we can surround ourselves with positive people.  People who will encourage us, who will reach out and steady us when we wobble.  People who will praise us, even when we fall flat on our faces and who will reach out to help us up again. People who will be telling us why we can succeed not people telling us why we cannot.

More importantly, people who genuinely care, instead of corporates and governments and people, with hidden agendas, who care only about how they are ‘seen’ and what they are ‘seen to be doing’.

I, for one am going to be making a whole bunch of changes in my life this year.  I will be getting rid of whomever and whatever causes chaos in my life.  I am going to surround myself with people who are trying to make positive changes in their own lives and in the lives of others.  I am going to be walking away from friends, relatives and colleagues who don’t add any value to my life and concentrate on those who do and who I can add value to.

I am going to hang about with those who encourage me and who I can encourage.  Who will you be hanging out with?

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

Sunday, September 07, 2014

MOTIVATION – Holding onto anger

MOTIVATION – Holding Onto Anger

By Nikki Viljoen of N Viljoen Consulting CC - June 2009

Rene Sinnya says that “Holding onto anger is like grasping hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else – you are the one that gets burnt.”

Man oh Man – that one certainly got to me.  You see, I have held onto my anger for years.  The only person that got hurt was me.  My days were spent in a red haze and my nights were spent with nightmares, where I heard bones break as I smashed the nameless, faceless, unwilling participants of my horrific dreams.

So how did that hurt me – simply hitting someone in my dreams did not hurt me (or them for that matter), in any way?

Wrong, wrong, wrong again!  Apart from anything else, the level of rest that I got during my sleep was seriously limited!

Being in a rage ensured that I was always tense, muscles clenched and bunched in knots.  The knots went all the way up my spine and up through my brain stem and this resulting in the most excruciating headaches and migraines and the bottom line was that my perception was always that the ‘glass was half empty.”

What about the objects of my anger – how were they affected.  Well I don’t think that they even remembered that I existed!  How cruel is that?

It took a while – it took a really long while, but I eventually learnt – to let go of the anger.  “Just let it go” said Vanessa, my mentor.  “How” was my standard reply.

Here’s the thing, if those that you are angry with don’t really give a rats bum, then what’s the point?  If they don’t even  realize that you exist – then really, what is the point?

It give me great pleasure these days, to watch the expressions on the faces of Johannesburg taxi drivers (or in fact any drivers) who look at me in astonishment as I smile and wave at them in direct response to their giving me ‘the finger’ in rush hour traffic!

It always brings a smile to my face.

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

Saturday, September 06, 2014

MOTIVATION – Getting Past the Fear of Failure

MOTIVATION –  Getting Past the Fear of Failure

By Nikki Viljoen of N Viljoen Consulting CC – September 2010

This is a topic that I have covered before, however that said, it is something that has really come to the forefront in my life lately.  The other fear that I seem to constantly battle with is the fear of success.

Let’s look at this in a logical and unemotional manner.

Firstly – the fear of failure is a very normal emotion.  I promise you, you are not alone.  Everyone has, at some time or another had this fear.  Its how you deal with it that is important.

One of the ways to deal with the fear of failure, is to set yourself reasonable and effective goals.  Remember though that you need to keep your goals as bite sized chunks, so that they are easily attainable.

Here’s the thing – “We can only have one thought at a time” says Robin S. Sharma – the trick is to have the right thought.

I am currently reading “The Monk Who Sold his Ferrari” by Robin S Sharma and some of the advice that I have seen there, not only resonated with me – it blew me out of the water.  You see the whole book, (and I haven’t finished reading it yet) is around the fact that our minds control our thoughts and we should control our minds.  Our thoughts actually bring about our fears or failures or indeed, our successes and pretty much anything that we wish to achieve.

In this wonderful story the Sage (or teacher) says that even one negative thought is poisonous to us as individuals and that we, by controlling our minds and our thoughts’  can change these ‘negative’ thoughts into ‘positive’ thoughts that will serve us.  The reader is given exercises in visualization of the positive kind.  These exercises start at a few minutes a day and they progress from there.  There is also a section on ‘what to do’ when you have a negative thought.  It really is a wonderful book and one that I would really recommend to everyone.

Of course, like everything else in life, it is only in the repetitive actions of the individual, that the solution will take place – it’s not an instantaneous happening, but rather a gradual reformation, so don’t think that you can do the exercise once and then everything in your life is solved.  It won’t be, you have to repeat the exercise on a daily basis and you have to continue it for life.

Secondly, let’s have a look at the fear of success.  This is the one that bites me in the rear end on a regular basis.  I have spent all my life dreaming about my goals and when they finally arrive, I go into a kind of reverse action and my brain is flooded with thoughts of “I can’t do this because . . . “ or “I don’t deserve . . . .”!  Actually yes I do deserve – I have put in the work, I have sweated the blood and the reward is mine to enjoy.

Again, it is about controlling your thoughts and turning positive thoughts into successful actions.  Remember that a thought without any action is just that – a thought.  The thought needs an action in order for anything to happen.

The bottom line of course, is that it is up to you – they are your thoughts and you are the only person that can control them.

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

Friday, September 05, 2014

HR 101 - WHAT TO DO WHEN . . . . You Need Those Wall Charts


WHAT TO DO WHEN . . . . You Need Those Wall Charts

By Nikki Viljoen of Viljoen Consulting CC August 2009

About 98% of the companies that I assess actually are not compliant in terms of the wall charts that are required to be displayed.

You see both the employers and the employees are required to be aware of and even understand the minimum requirements of the Basic Conditions of Employment Act, the Employment Equity Act and the Occupational Health and Safety Act.  It is a legal requirement to display these wall charts.  Not only are they required to be displayed, but furthermore they are required to be easily accessible to all staff.  Should the Department of Labour arrive at your office door and request to view these wall charts and you don’t have them, you may very well be in for a hefty fine.  So it really is a good idea to be proactive about this.

Here’s the thing though, although it is incumbent upon employers to comply with the Basic Conditions of Employment Act and/or the Employment Equity Act and/or the Occupational Health and Safety Act, employees also have a part to play in ensuring that their obligations are carried out.

In terms of the latest upgrades of the Employment Equity Act, Companies and Government Departments are required to compile equity plans and these too are required to be displayed on notice boards.  These plans also need to be discussed with the employees and/or their representative trade unions.  Some small businesses may be exempt from this, but the minimum requirements would need to be checked.

In terms of the Occupational Health and Safety Act, the minute 5 or more people are employed, there is a requirement to implement a health and safety structure in order to sustain  the well being of employees and you are further required to create a healthy and safe working environment.  Common sense though, should always prevail and whether you employ one person or one hundred, people have the right to work in a safe environment.

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

Thursday, September 04, 2014

HR 101 - WHAT TO DO WHEN . . . . Restraint of Trade – Part 2


WHAT TO DO WHEN . . . . Restraint of Trade – Part 2

By Nikki Viljoen of Viljoen Consulting CC August 2009

Following on from last week, we are having a look at a case of “Restraint of Trade” that was upheld by the courts.

In this instance, Mike our favorite protagonist works in a motor vehicle service centre where he does specialized diagnostic testing (let’s call them 123 Motor City).

Again, Mike is offered a position with a competitor ( let’s call them ABC Motor City), but this time he has been enticed across, not because of his work skills but in at attempt by ABC Motor City to gain access to the  internal processes of 123 Motor City as well as their client data base.

Again Mike is served with papers to appear in court as 123 Motor City attempt to invoke the “Restraint of Trade” clause.

This time Mike is not successful in defending the application due to (but not Limited to) the following.

•    Mike started at 123 Motor City fresh out of school.  All of his work skills and diagnostic training was gained when 123 Motor City sent Mike to college and workshops and training courses (and paid for these too).  123 Motor City was therefore able to distinguish between the proprietary to it and Mike’s general knowledge and skills.
•    Mike did posses information pertaining to 123 Motor City, that was of a confidential nature, and he had furthermore attended many in house training sessions and the result of this was that many of his skills and knowledge was specifically about the processes and systems and products of 123 Motor City.
•    As a direct result of this Mike was in possession of trade secrets and client information – both of which were of a confidential nature.  If Mike shared any and/or all of this information with ABC Motor City it could be used against 123 Motor City and also used to their disadvantage.

The bottom line was that as far as the courts were concerned, the fact that there was any risk whatsoever, of disclosure of confidential information, be it of 123 Motor City’s processes and/or product information and/or worth ethics and/or clients, any one of these was sufficient to justify the Court’s decision to prevent Mike from taking up employment with ABC Motor City.

The Court therefore enforced the Restraint of Trade clause.

So remember, be specific with what you want to prevent.  Be specific and realistic about the time that your want the restraint to be in force and always be fair.

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

Wednesday, September 03, 2014

Networking 101 - Knowling your purpose



Knowing your purpose

By Nikki Viljoen of N Viljoen Consulting CC

How about knowing your purpose?  Do you know your purpose?  Don’t for a minute get confused!  Knowing who you are and knowing your purpose are two very different things.

If you don’t know your purpose, it will be extremely difficult to get other people to understand what it is that you are selling and/or what assistance it is that you need from them.

Knowing your purpose is more about knowing what you want to achieve for . . .  others.  Those others could be your clients, your friends and your family.  So – do you know what you want to achieve for others on a daily basis?

It’s about knowing what you would do if you didn’t have to work.  Think about that for a moment . . .  if you didn’t have to work, what would you do?  Would you still be the same person that you are right now, or would you do a 180 degree turnabout and become someone completely different.  You may become someone who no longer treats people with dignity and respect – you may become the second Mother Theresa or guess what, you may continue to be the person that everyone has come to love, because having money and not having to work, may actually leave you as the person you are now.

Knowing your purpose means that in all probability, you will leave your mark on this world when you leave it one day.  So what is your legacy?  What will your children and friends say that you have achieved in your life time and will they even know?

For me, knowing your purpose means that you have to have some idea about who you are and what it is that you are doing here, in this life time, before you can start telling people who you think they are? 

It’s about accepting some things because, they just are and it’s about making a concerted effort to change the things that need to be changed in your life and thereby changing the things in your world that need to be changed.  It’s about quietly going about your business and making a difference.

It’s about challenging yourself to be all that you can be, rather than all that everyone else thinks you should be.

It’s about being true to yourself.

It’s about being you . . .

So, how about it then, do you know your purpose?

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

Tuesday, September 02, 2014

Business Tips - Computer Shortcuts - Part 3

BUSINESS TIPS – Computer Shortcuts – Part 3

By Nikki Viljoen – Viljoen Consulting CC August 2010

Another fabulously positive responsive week I got last week.  Seems I am not the only one who doesn’t know all the shortcuts and tips.  Here are the next lot.

Next Up – Excel Shortcut Keys
F2    Edit the selected cell
F5    Go to a specific cell
F7    Spell check specific text and/or document
F11    Create Chart
Ctrl + Shift + ;    Enter the current time
Ctrl + ;    Enter the current date
Alt + Shit + F1    Insert new worksheet
Shift + F3    Open the Excel formula window
Shift + F5    Bring up search box
Ctrl + A    Select all contents of worksheet
Ctrl + B    Bold highlighted section
Ctrl + I    Italicize highlighted section
Ctrl + C    Copy selected text
Ctrl + V    Paste
Ctrl + D    Fill
Ctrl + K    Insert link
Ctrl + F    Open, find and replace options
Ctrl + G    Open go-to links
Ctrl + U    Underline highlighted section
Ctrl + Y    Underline selected text
Ctrl + 5    Strike through highlighted selection
Ctrl + O    Open options
Ctrl + N    Open new document
Ctrl + P    Open print dialogue box
Ctrl + S    Save
Ctrl + Z    Undo last action
Ctrl + F9    Minimize current window
Ctrl + F10    Maximize current window
Ctrl + F6    Switch between open workbooks/windows
Ctrl + Page up & down    Move between Excel worksheets in the same document
Ctrl + Tab    Move between two or more open Excel files
Alt + =    Create formula to sum all of above cells
Control *    Insert value of above cell into current cell
Ctrl + Shift + !    Format number in comma format
Ctrl + Shift + $    Format number in currency format
Ctrl + Shift + #    Format number in date format
Ctrl + Shift + %    Format number in percentage format
Ctrl + Shift + ^    Format number in scientific format
Ctrl + Shift + @    Format number in time format
Ctrl + ->    Move to next section of text
Ctrl + Space    Select entire column
Shift + Space    Select entire row
Ctrl + W    Close document

Again I knew one or two of these, but certainly not the majority and now of course I will also have to irritate the heck out of my IT guy by asking all the ‘what does . . . . . mean?”.

More next week.

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

Monday, September 01, 2014

MOTIVATION – Understanding Ourselves

MOTIVATION – Understanding Ourselves

By Nikki Viljoen of N Viljoen Consulting CC – June 2009

Carl Jung says “Everything that irritates us about others can lead us to an understanding of ourselves”.

I know that one of the lessons that I learnt in life at a very young age, is that the “cute” things that first attracted me to a potential love interest was also the first thing that irritated me to such an extent that I ‘fired’ their butts at the first opportunity.

It wasn’t until years later however, that I began to understand the reasons behind this.  You see it’s the things that others do that irritate me that I mostly need to change in myself, be it a physical trait or a mindset that needs a change or even a tweak.

For myself, the greater the irritation, the greater my own need for me to change something within myself.

From my blood pressure rising as I drive and try and negotiate the traffic in Gauteng, to losing my sense of humour as I watch in disbelief, yet another stupid advert.  The manner in which I react to any given situation reflects my attitude at the time as well as my choice (or lack thereof) to react in the manner that I have.

So the next time that you become irritated by something someone does or says – stop for a moment and think about why it is that you are irritated.  Look into yourself, into your heart and the very core of your being, and if you are honest - brutally honest with yourself, you will understand what it is about yourself that you need to change.

In that understanding, a decision is made and in that decision being made an action to change takes place.

In making that change, the direction of your life will also change and you will grow as an individual.

Who would have thought, that the irritating presence or irritating action of a person has brought about some of the most significant changes in my life!

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