Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Business Tips - Computer Shortcuts - Part 4

BUSINESS TIPS – Computer Shortcuts – Part 4

By Nikki Viljoen – Viljoen Consulting CC

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, July 11, 2016

Motivation - Help From Unexpected Quarters


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, July 08, 2016

HR 101 - Showing Remorse

HR 101 - Showing Remorse

By Nikki Viljoen of Viljoen Consulting CC

This pertains to South African Labour requirements only

To be quite honest, this particular case “bent” my mind in several different directions simultaneously, and not in a good way either.

What it also did however, was clearly highlight the need to use someone with the highest level of labour law expertise when conducting disciplinary hearings that may result in dismissal.

Let’s bring out the protagonists.

Mike owns a small paint factory in one of the industrial parks.  He is very conscientious about the health and safety issues around what happens in the factory because of the paint fumes and chemicals that are used and how badly they can react with one another.  All the staff are trained on safety issues on a regular basis and safety drills and evacuations take place quarterly.  Mike employs around 100 staff members.

Mike walks onto the factory floor and with the usual smell of paint fumes he detects another underlying smell.  Mike is very concerned when he realized that that smell is in fact gas.  He issues an instruction for all the staff to leave the premises immediately, while the problem is investigated.

The usual procedure is for staff to meet in the lower car park, several hundred meters from the factory.  When they do the drill the evacuation generally takes less than 15 minutes.

Mike contacts his service provider and the authorities to report the problem and then goes to join the staff in the car park to wait for the technicians to arrive, investigate the problem and then proclaim the factory safe or unsafe.  If the factory is declared unsafe the staff will be sent home until such time as the ‘all clear’ is given.

Mike gets to the car park around 20 minutes after his instruction to evacuate was issued and some of the staff are still taking a leisurely stroll to the car park from the factory and not only that, it is also clearly evident that many of the staff are not present and accounted for.

After chatting to the safety officers and investigating the issue further, it was discovered that many of the employees just did not follow the correct procedures – some just took their own sweet time to get to the safety of the car park and some went straight home without even reporting to the car park.

Mike was furious, and understandably so – what if the factory had exploded while staff were still inside.  What if they were looking for the bodies of people who had actually gone home and even worse, what if the safety officers or authorities had gone into the building to ‘rescue’ those that had not come out and the factory had blown up whilst they were inside and the people who they were supposed to be rescuing were safe at home.  Clearly this was not acceptable at all.

Every person who had arrived late (after 20 minutes of the instruction to evacuate was originally given) as well as everyone who went directly home, were required to attend a disciplinary.

So far so good, I am sure you will agree – but here is where the whole thing goes pear shaped.  You see, some of the employees were issued with final written warnings and some were dismissed.  The dismissed staff took Mike to the CCMA.

The arbitrator found that the dismissals were ‘too harsh because the dismissed  employees has shown “genuine remorse”’

Wow!  So it doesn’t matter that someone could have been killed going in to look for them whilst they were safely at home, but they were ‘sorry’ so that’s okay then. Now that is not good for me at all!

What is also not good for me though, is the lack of consistency with the penalties issued at the disciplinary hearings – for me personally, that is where most of the problem lies and whether they showed ‘genuine remorse’  or not should have been featured as part of the mitigating circumstances.  I understand that they were all given individual hearings (as they should have been), but the fact of the matter is that they did not follow safety procedures and because of this they put other people’s lives at great risk.

Let me put it this way – if Mike had ignored the problem and not followed the safety rules and the factory had blown up and the staff had been killed, but he showed ‘genuine remorse’ would his liability, responsibility, accountability and ultimate penalty, been reduced?  I doubt it.

Once again this evidences the need to have someone with the correct legal HR ‘know how’, when dealing with these matters as the law is always open to interpretation.

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, July 07, 2016

Early Warning - Warning from ADT Security

EARLY WARNING - Warning from ADT Security

By Nikki Viljoen – Viljoen Consulting

I received this communication from one of my colleagues:
“Please spread this email, to all your staff, friends and family, we all need to be aware and we all need to put a stop to this, winter is coming and that’s when most house break ins happen.

The following points were made in a discussion with members of SA Police Services on Radio IFM.

We are not aware that any of these signs are being used by criminals in our area but I feel it is good that you be warned.
When there is a Z painted at the Stop sign – there is a few houses being robbed in that street
If there is a heap of small stones in front of a house. – There are dogs
If there is two large stones placed next to each other. – two old people
Sometimes they pack a few stones in a row next to each other. – how many people in the house.
Colors :
Red coke can, red rag etc’ means the occupants can defend themselves
Coke can on its side. – somebody at home
Coke can standing straight up. – nobody at home.
* White: sorghum box pointing to house. - marked to break in
White plastic bag on fence. – easy target
* Green: directions, the direction the green bottle is showing. – the direction they should move
* Blue: any blue bag, paper etc. – Somebody in the house prepared to help you.
* Black: Stock Theft.
* If your dog suddenly dies or is vomiting and there is black dots in the vomit or any white powder next to the dog. Contact the police, they must remove the dog and vomit immediately, do not touch anything, it is dangerous.
If your dog barks at night, - listen to the type of barking
A Kiewiet makes one noise when seeing an owl but a different noise when seeing a human being.
Simba Chips packet: it is folded neatly, If the face on packet is pointing towards your house. – Boss at home
If face is pointing away from home. – Boss not at home
If they see foot prints by your gate, they know somebody stays here.
They phone your house number to find out if you are at home.
They switch off your power at your (unlocked) mains box, if you go out to check your box, your home is open
For them to slip in or you are a soft target outside alone in the dark.
Strange object: Arriving at home in your car, a strange object, dustbin, carton box, brick, tree branch, go past it,
if you get out to remove the object, you are a soft target.
What Must You Do:
Remove all the loose signs in front of your house, throw it away
There has been cases where the “signs” were removed three times and the chap who had to plant the signs got into trouble
Try and remove the painted signs, paint over them.
Report any signs that you think were planted there after you had removed them.

Yogen Govender
Area Operations Manager – North”
Let’s be safe out there people!

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

Wednesday, July 06, 2016

Marketing 101 - Doing Your Own PR

MARKETING 101 - Doing Your Own PR

By Nikki Viljoen – Viljoen Consulting

Once again, let me be really up front and tell you that I am not a Marketing guru.  Any articles that appear here on Marketing are from a totally logical point of view and are tips that have worked for me as a small business owner without a budget for Marketing.

As small business owners we all think that we have the greatest product and/or service in the world.  We are really passionate about what we do and we know, deep down inside of ourselves that ‘if only’ people knew about out product/service we would be so busy we would not know what to do with ourselves and we would have pots and pots and oodles and oodles of money just flying into out bank accounts.

Now here’s the kicker. It’s the ‘if only’ part.  You see the bottom line is that no matter how great our product is or how fabulous our service is, if no-one knows about it or how it will make a difference in their lives, no-one is going to buy it and well . . . .  our bank accounts will remain empty.

Small business owners and entrepreneurs can often be heard lamenting about the lack of . . . .  the lack of finance to put a really good marketing strategy together, the lack of finance to use a really good PR agency, the lack of . .  well I’m sure you get the picture.

Truth be told though, we are all capable of doing the whole thing ourselves and even, in some cases getting better results for ourselves than we might have gotten by hiring someone to do it for us.  You see good PR can be the greatest asset in a business but a bad publicist who fails to deliver can really do a great deal of harm.

So let’s have a look at some of the simple things that you can do as PR in your own company.

Take a good hard look at what happens in your company.  Remember, your company is unique.  What about your company is unique? What about your company is newsworthy? Do you have a monthly newsletter that goes out, do you have an anniversary of your business coming up or is there a special holiday coming up such as (but not limited to) ‘Workers Day’ or ‘Women’s Day’.  If you are not someone who looks at special promotions then perhaps it is time to start looking at something right now.  It can be linked to a public holiday or to an event or even to a group of people (e.g. all members of Business Engage will be eligible for a discount of 10% for the duration of the promotion).  You see the thing is that you can only pitch a concept to the media if you have something interesting to promote.

Make sure that you have some really great photographs of your store and/or product and/or yourself (if you are selling your service) because some of the smaller publications of newspapers and/or magazines may not have the financial means to have a photographer running around all over the country side to take photos and photos always, always, always can make a difference to whether your pitch is successful or not.  Be prepared.

In fact, it is quite a good idea to have a Business Profile and/or Personal Profile written up and ready for distribution.  It’s good to have your profile include whatever is being promoted together with a bit of the history of the business and/or yourself and of course it must include (but not be limited to) things like your contact details, address, web address etc., and it must be presented in a professional manner on your letterhead.  This is something that you can write yourself or if you are really not comfortable doing this hire a wordsmith on a ‘per word’ basis to do it for you.  Most freelance journalists will be able to assist you in this regard.

Once the profile is done, write a letter that is to the point that can be mailed or e-mailed to editors and/or producers with your profile attached, or better yet – see if you can get in to see them.

The letter must be as short and as simple as possible, but it must include all of the promotions that are on offer.

All the Editors and/or Producers want to know is ‘what’s going on’ and they are often looking for something different to report on.  Once they have this information they can make their own decision as to whether or not they want to cover.

Simple hey?  Simple and very effective!  So go on, I dare you – try doing something like this for yourself and see how well it turns out.

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

Tuesday, July 05, 2016

Business Tips - Computer Shortcuts - Part 3

BUSINESS TIPS – Computer Shortcuts – Part 3

By Nikki Viljoen – Viljoen Consulting CC

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, July 04, 2016

Motivation - Holding Onto Anger

MOTIVATION – Holding Onto Anger

By Nikki Viljoen of N Viljoen Consulting CC

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

Friday, July 01, 2016

HR 101 - Religious Discrimination - Part 2

HR 101 - Religious Discrimination – Part 2

By Nikki Viljoen of Viljoen Consulting CC

As promised here is the story version of what happened at the CCMA.  Let’s bring out the protagonists.

Mike owns a very busy little gym in a quiet suburb and he has several body builder type staff working for him as personal trainers.  Patrons are not encouraged to work out on their own, but are allocated their own personal trainer(s) to assist them with getting the best out of a workout.  Patrons are then encouraged to make use of the gym’s masseurs, who are all properly trained in working with sports injuries.

As part of the branding, all staff are required to wear uniforms – the males are required to be clean shaven, with short hair (for hygiene purposes) and the females are required to wear their hair (specifically long hair) up in a ponytail and away from their faces.  When in the indoor heated pool, all staff are required to wear swimming caps, again for hygiene purposes and to minimize the amount of hair fallout.

Mike’s business is expanding with more and more sports patrons coming to his gym to receive expert training and he has had to increase the number of personal trainers and masseurs.  Mike’s letter of appointment specifies that the gym is open 7 days a week and the hair and hygiene requirements and he is careful to explain the reasons for the requirements at the interviews to ensure that both male and female staff are aware of the requirements and that they agree to them up front.

Everything goes along splendidly for several weeks and then he notices that several of the male staff are not shaving regularly.  Mike calls a staff meeting and reiterates the requirements and instructs all the male staff to come to work ‘clean shaven’ on a daily basis.  Mike further states that staff members who do not properly portray the image of the gym and the brand will be sent home to sort out what is required, at their own cost and without pay for the time wasted.

The following day, several of the staff again came to work unshaved and when Mike instructed them to go home and shave, they refused on religious grounds.  They explained to Mike that they belonged to the Nazarene religion and that this religion forbade them to shave or even trim their beards.  All of them were instructed to attend individual disciplinary hearings and all of them were dismissed.

Of course all of them went off to the CCMA and they claimed that their dismissal was automatically unfair as it was based on their religion.

Mike stood his ground and stated that:-
Apart from the fact that beards made personal trainers and masseurs look dirty and untidy, all of these employees had been briefed on the requirements of being clean shaven as this was a hygiene requirement as well as part of the branding and therefore image of the company.
All of the employees had arrived for the interview, clean shaven, they had signed their letters of appointment, thereby contractually agreeing to be clean shaven and
For the first couple of week’s  they had all come to work clean shaven, with no problem at all.
At no time, until they all refused to shave, had any of them advised Mike that they were of a religion that forbade them being ‘clean shaven’.  Clearly Mike was perplexed by this development.

The Court decided in Mike’s favour based on the following facts:
There were several issues with this particular religion that were forbidden, yet the staff had transgressed on all of them, such as but not limited to: - the employees worked on a Sunday (and had never refused to do so) despite the fact that they were forbidden to do so in terms of their faith.
The staff had arrived for their interviews clean shaven and had remained that way for several weeks despite the fact that they were forbidden to do so in terms of their faith.  These two issues indicated that the church was ‘flexible’ in the application of these rules.
The staff could not show that they would have to ‘suffer a harsh penance’ for breaching the rule of not shaving.
It was evident that these employees were selective in their choice of which religious laws and rules they would follow and which they wouldn’t.
The fact that Mike was very consistent in applying the rules of ‘clean shaven’ male faces etc evidenced that these staff members had not been singled out on the basis of their religion, but rather on their non-adherence to laid down company procedures that had been previously and meticulously followed, by these very same employees.
Grooming and hygiene was an important and integral factor in the running of a private gym.

Be warned though, just because Mike won this case , doesn’t mean that employers will always win cases based on ‘unfair discrimination’ relating to religion and beliefs – each case should be looked at in terms of its own merits and it is advisable to employ the services of a HR/IR (human resources/industrial relations) expert when in doubt.

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