Friday, December 15, 2017

HR 101 - What to do When . . . Your Staff want to Strike - Part 6

HR 101 - WHAT TO DO WHEN . . . . Your Staff Want to Strike – Part 6

By Nikki Viljoen – N Viljoen Consulting CC.

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

So what is a ‘lockout’ actually? A ‘lockout’ is when the employer, locks the striking employees, out of the office/warehouse/factory/store etc. There are two types of ‘Lock Out’ – a ‘defensive’ and an ‘offensive’ ‘lock out’. An employer is not obliged to remunerate an employee for services that the employee does not render during a protected strike or a protected lock-out,

In terms of the Labour Relations Act of 1995, Section 64 (which is the section that deals specifically with “Lock outs”), there are several reasons when the ‘lock out’ can be a really useful tool if there is a strike.

The union has to give ‘Notice of Intention to Strike’ and when they do this you are entitled to issue a “Lock Out Notice’ which means once the strike begins – so does the ‘lock out.’

Let’s have a look at the benefits of a ‘lock out’.

Well firstly a benefit would be that the employer does not have to pay the employee for the duration of the strike.

Secondly, the union officials and their shop stewards very often do not advise the employees of the employers right to ‘lock out’ and often the employees only find this out after the fact, which places them on the ‘back foot’  so to speak.  The Lock Out notice must be placed on the Company Notice board so that all employees are aware of what action the employer is going to take.

Giving a notice of lock out changes the ‘power play’ quite drastically.  The striking employees are no longer in control of when they come back to work.

A defensive ‘lock out’ must always be in response to a strike, because the employees  can not return to work until such time as they have dropped their demands.

Be careful though, the opposite of a ‘defensive’ ‘lock out’ is an ‘offensive’ ‘lock out’ and that occurs if you declare a ‘lock out’ that is not in response to a strike.  This would then mean that your employees would have to accept the employers demand to come back to work.  If you declare an ‘offensive’ ‘lock out’, you will not be allowed to use any replacement labour and this is in terms of the Labour Relations Act of 1995 section 75(1)(b). 

An ‘offensive’ ‘lock out’ lets the striking employees and the union officials know,  just how serious you are about the offer that you have put on the table.  An ‘offensive’ ‘lock out’ should only be used together with negotiations on an ‘ongoing’ basis and it is highly likely that this will then result in a settlement which should bring the strike to an end.

So make sure that you know and understand exactly which ‘lock out’ you are declaring and why.  Declaring the wrong one could cause you a lot of wasted time and energy, not to mention costs incurred.

The bottom line of course is that prevention is always better than cure and although it costs the employer ‘an arm and a leg’, the reality of the situation is that it also costs the employee, usually a lot more than what they bargained for.

So no matter how deadlocked talks appear to be, it is in your own best interests to continue to talk to union officials and shop stewards.  They too, more often than not, would also like to see a settlement sooner rather than later.

Next time we will have a look at Unprotected or prohibited strikes.

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

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Marketing 101 - Personal Branding - Changing Your Mind Set

Marketing 101 - Personal Branding – Changing Your Mind Set

By Nikki Viljoen – Viljoen Consulting March 2010.

Like most things in life, there is branding and Branding and then there is BRANDING!

There is branding that belongs to a product such as Coca-Cola or Nissan and then there is personal branding that belongs to an individual, like Edith Venter, our well known South African socialite.  Then of course there are those who not only have a personal brand but also a business brand.  Here Edith carries dual branding because of her business, Edith Venter Promotions.

Just like businesses change and rebrand themselves, and the two that popped into my mind almost immediately, are Pick ‘n Pay and  Castle Larger (neither of them have been in the very recent past, but they have both been rebranded at some point).  Both companies changed their branding, their logo’s, their look and with it upgraded their image to something similar but also quite different to what it was before.  The new look seemed more modern but make no mistake, it cost them millions!

So cost aside, why would an individual ‘re-brand’ themselves – I mean at the end of the day, you are still ‘you’ – or are you?

Some individuals need to change their brands because they have moved on from what they used to do or because they were associated with another brand and the relationship has gone sour or a marriage that has not survived, whatever the reason, understand it is going to be a long, painful and probably very costly exercise.

Here’s the thing – when you started out branding yourself, you did it one step at a time, one person at a time.  You did an incredible job of letting the world know who you are and what it is that you do.  You told everyone who would listen (and even some who didn’t) all about your passion.  You got yourself interviewed on TV and radio and wrote articles that were published in magazines and newspapers.  You got yourself photographed with as many famous people as you could get close to. You wrote blogs and had an opinion on every subject under the sun.  You interacted on Facebook and told the world about your accomplishments and you ‘Twittered and Tweeted’.  Friends, family and colleagues were carefully instructed on what to say about what it is that you do and anyone who got your title wrong or made the slightest mistake about what you do, were gently corrected.

You created an all powerful brand . . .  that is you.

Now, due to whatever circumstance that has occurred in your life, that brand has to change – but remember, for years you have been telling the world that you are . . well “You” and now you want to tell them that you are no longer the ‘old you’, but a ‘new, improved you’.  Remember though, that people (no matter how ‘open minded’ they say they are) are basically creatures of habit and just because you have had a mind set change or undergone a personality change, their perception of you will in all probability, remain with the ‘old you’.  So don’t be expecting them to change their mindset or perception over night.

Make sure that you understand the process that you are about to undertake when rebranding yourself – it’s not a ‘quick fix’ kind of process, but rather one that is very long term and just like you branded yourself the first time, one step at a time, one person at a time – so to will the journey be for rebranding yourself (although in truth it will probably be a little faster, since at the end of the day – you are still . . .  well ‘You’).

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

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Networking 101 - Recognizing the Opportunities

Networking 101 Recognising the Opportunities

By Nikki Viljoen of N Viljoen Consulting CC

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

“Don’t expect colleagues with similar credentials and expertise to be referral sources.”

This one always makes me smile!  Don’t get me wrong, Renate is spot on the money, it’s the insecurities of the human race that makes me smile!

I’ve said this so many times, I feel like I should actually make a recording – there is enough opportunity and work out there for all of us to get more than we could possibly handle!

So what we should be doing is referring colleagues with similar credentials and expertise. 

I can hear the buzzing – why?  Well firstly, why not?  Secondly, because by doing this you start and nurture a relationship with them, and then when they get too busy to cope with their workload, (presuming of course that you are not too busy yourself), instead of just getting new staff in to do the work that they have to train and then keep after the project is finished, the two of you could join forces in a joint venture or strategic alliance and do the work together!  For me it’s a no brainer!

I honestly cannot understand what this ‘jealously guarding your clients, potential clients or any rumour of any kind of work that may be available in your area of expertise,” is all about.  When you behave like this you are so focused on keeping everyone at bay, that you end up losing your clients and your potential clients too, because you have kept them at bay too!

Seriously people, there is more than enough to go around and then some – you just need to recognise the opportunity and then do something about it!

So go on, share your information, share your resources and refer as many people as you can – what will happen is that people will start referring you and before you know it, you will be so busy you won’t know what to do with yourself.

The more you give, the more you will get!

For more information on Renate, please visit her website at

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

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Business tips - Why Twitter - Part 2

BUSINESS TIPS – Why Twitter – Part 2

By Nikki Viljoen – Viljoen Consulting CC June 2010

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, December 11, 2017

Motivation - Where we Stand


By Nikki Viljoen of N Viljoen Consulting CC

Today’s quote comes from Johann Wolfgan Von Goethe who said “The greatest thing in this world is not so much where we stand as in what direction we are moving.”

Well I don’t know about any of you, but I certainly would like to be moving in a forwardly direction!

On a personal level though, I think that we as individuals don’t take enough time and trouble to stop – turn around and see just how far we have come.  I mean think about it for a moment, how on earth would be know if it is the greatest thing in the world or not, if we don’t even acknowledge that we are moving forward and not sideways or backwards, although I am sure we are very conscious of that fact when it occurs!

For me it is not just ‘moving’ forward and achieving that is important, but also acknowledging to myself that I am moving forward and that I am in fact achieving – otherwise what would be the point?

I know that I am certainly very guilty of this oversight.  Once a year though, on New Years eve in fact, (I don’t celebrate New Year, in the traditional sense – but that is another story for another time), I discourage visitors and switch the phone off, light the fire – a huge big fire, open up a bottle of particularly good red wine and have a braai (or barbeque for those who are not “African”) for one. 

Now I know that that may sound frightfully morbid or sad, but for me it is extremely self satisfying.  You see, it is the time of the year that I take out the goals that I set for myself at the beginning of the year, I ‘tick off’ and acknowledge each one of the goals I have achieved that were on the list, and add all the goals that were not on the list but that I have achieved anyway -  and the ones that I haven’t – well they couldn’t have been that important anyway (and if they were – then  I add them onto the new list).

I think that we as individuals are so busy chasing after the goals that we have set and beating ourselves up about the ones that we did not achieve, that we forget about the ones that were not on the list, but that we have achieved anyway.  Situations change, perceptions change, new opportunities present themselves and yet we somehow feel the need to rigidly stick to something that was written down on paper.  Why?  My answer to that is this, once I have ticked off all that I have achieved, added all the ones that weren’t there – I drink a toast (well several actually) to myself, pat myself on the back and burn the list with the goals on it!  Why you may ask?  Well it’s quite simple, I don’t want a constant reminder of what I did not get to,  glaring at me all the time, so I erase it! 

Then I make a new list for the new year – a clean slate with new exciting visions and attainable goals – well attainable as I write them down on New Years eve.  But hey, guess what?  Situations change, perceptions change and new opportunities present themselves, so nothing that I write down on my piece of paper is carved in stone and it’s not the end of the world if I don’t achieve them because, well, next New Year’s eve, they too will be celebrated and then burnt.

Do I ever have any regrets?  Sure I do – one of them is that I only perform this ritual once a year.  It doesn’t seem like it is often enough.  Perhaps I will put it on my list this year, that I will perform this ritual twice a year!  Yip, that’s what I will do and if I manage to achieve that, then I will drink a toast (or maybe several) and if I don’t – well, it’s not the end of the world – you see, I will have achieved other goals, I will have acknowledged that I am moving forward in the right direction, I will have recognized and done something with the new opportunities that presented themselves and I will have celebrated all of that.

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

Friday, December 08, 2017

HR 101 - What to do When . . . Your Staff Want to Strike - Part 5

HR 101 - WHAT TO DO WHEN . . . . Your Staff Want to Strike – Part 5

By Nikki Viljoen – N Viljoen Consulting CC.

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

Replacement labour is the topic on the table today.  Let’s have a look at the reality of a strike.

A strike can have devastating financial implications to a company.  Look at the results of some of the strikes that took place over the last couple of years.

Think about Pick ‘n Pay – the last really bad one that I remember is when shoppers were confronted with “Toi Toi-ing” staff as they tried to enter the stores to do their shopping.  I remember Jeremy Mansfield of Highveld Stereo trying to make light of the situation by saying something along the lines of “I have never felt so welcome in all of my life – there were what seemed like hundreds of people singing and dancing as they came towards me with arms open wide to greet me and welcome me into the store!”  Ja Boet – and I also believe in Santa Claus and the tooth fairy!  Jokes aside, many customers did not want to be personally ‘welcomed’ into the store and despite assurances that they would not be harmed in any way, they chose to shop elsewhere.  I have no doubt that millions of Rands worth of turnover was lost by the company.

Now in this situation, Pick n’ Pay would have no alternative but to hire replacement labour if they wanted to have any kind of turnover at all and if they did not want to close their doors to the public.

It is a given however, that replacement staff, irrespective of whether they have been supplied by a labour broker or sourced by yourselves or even if you use your own staff from other areas, will invariably be subjected to intimidation and even physical and verbal abuse in some instances.  So you need to ensure that they necessary precautionary steps are in place to ensure that your replacement labour is protected.

You can (and perhaps should) for example install some additional security surveillance such as CCTV type camera and video set ups or hire additional independent security.  Whatever you do, inform the union of what you are doing or intend to do in order to re-enforce their responsibility to ensure that they control their members.

Be aware though, that all of these additional bits and pieces will have a financial implication too.  Don’t for a minute think that a strike is not going to cost you and ultimately prevention is always better that cure (and often a lot cheaper in the long run).

Next week we will look at what a ‘lock out’ is and the benefits or implications of having one.

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

Thursday, December 07, 2017

Sales 101 - What is Soft Selling

SALES 101 What is “Soft Selling”?

By Nikki Viljoen – Viljoen Consulting CC

I’ve been hearing the term ‘soft’ selling for some time now and to be quite honest, I had no clue as to what it meant.  I mean, for me – selling is selling!  Sure there are different ways to sell and some of them work for me and some of them don’t – much the same, I would imagine, as it is for you.

It stands to reason that if I don’t know what ‘soft’ selling is, there are others that also don’t know.  So after a little research – this is what I found.

Apparently there are those amongst us who, when they are ‘soft’ selling properly, they don’t even know that they are selling – sounds really strange doesn’t it?  I mean we all go out to sell and in the retail sector, in particular, everything is geared around getting the sale!

Here’s the thing though.  There are instances, particularly in the consulting or coaching or advisory arena, when your clients don’t ‘feel’ like they are being sold to and you don’t feel like you are selling.

Actually, now that I think about it, this makes perfectly good sense.  Think about it for a moment – when you are feeling like death warmed up and go off to the doctor, at no time do you see yourself as a client, a patient perhaps, but not a client.  You see the doctor’s advice as something to be trusted and it has a win/win kind of feel about it – he makes you feel better and you pay him for doing that for you (although in all honesty I still feel like a client when I go and get the meds).

It appears that this can be done in any kind of business and it is all about the ‘mind-set’ of the individual who is actually doing the selling.  The mindset is one of respect, service and ensuring that there is a ‘win/win’ situation.  Actually, if I think about it a little more, this is when we build relationships with our clients.  It’s like my favorite waiter at the Mugg & Bean (I can get quite irritated if he is not there) or the chap that the camera shop – I won’t buy anything unless he is there to explain stuff to me.  The bottom line is that I trust them and they make me ‘feel’ special and they take care of me and they meet my needs.

Sure they still have to follow procedures and whatever the sales process is that their jobs require them to, but they do that quietly and without fuss and usually out of sight, but what they do is make the ‘experience’ for me, one that is pleasant.

So perhaps what we need to do is go back to the basics – the thing that made the ‘Mom and Pop’ corner shops such a success, the building of relationships with our clients.  It must be like a second nature to them, to think of us whenever they need our product or our services.

Remember though, you still have to have your sales process in place and in order for you to be in control of your sales ‘efforts’ you still have to have to know who your target market is, you still have to have your business proposition in place and you still have to have your sales strategy and sales processes in place.

That said though, I really like the sound of a ‘soft’ sale – it sounds a lot less stressful than a ‘hard’ sale or even a normal one.

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

Wednesday, December 06, 2017

Networking 101 - Find what is Unique to You

Networking  101 - Find what is unique to you

By Nikki Viljoen of N Viljoen Consulting CC

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

“Brand your uniqueness:  Remember; 45% of what you do, others do better than you, 45% of what you do, others do as well as you, 10% of what you do is unique to you.  Focus on the 10% that is unique to you!”

Oh man is Renate ever spot on the money with this one! So many times I have been in a networking environment where there have been in excess of 100 people and they all look just the same and many of them are in exactly the same field doing pretty much the same thing. I have looked around in absolute confusion (I have never been very good and names or faces for that matter), then when I get to the point that I follow up and meet with them, I just make sure that I am at the meeting well in advance and hope to hell that they recognise me! Not ideal I know, but it works for me!

Remember the 70’s (for those of you who are old enough to do so), I mean there was such an explosion of new acts and new musicians entering the arena that they only way that they could actually be remembered (or even make any kind of splash for that matter) was to dress up – David Bowie with his unique hairstyle and his infamous ‘Bowie Dot’ in the middle of his forehead, or what about Leo Sayer who used to dress up as a clown and don’t forget Alice Cooper (it wasn’t enough that he had a girl’s name) and his band Kiss who had the most bizarre images painted in black and white on their faces and used to bite the heads off live chickens on stage (talk about making an entrance!) and smash their guitars into a million pieces, all on stage!

Don’t get me wrong, I am not advocating for one minute that you purchase your local Fancy Dress store, in order to have a sufficient number of costumes on hand.

What I am saying is that branding is a must! You have to show people that unique side of you – and we all have it and we need to flaunt it.

I for example, am a t-shirt and jeans kind of girl. I don’t look like a typical auditor and I really don’t think like a typical auditor (I could think of nothing more boring – urgh!), that is part of who I am and that is something that sticks in the minds of many of the people who meet me at networking events. Now I am not suggesting that you all rush out and buy up all the jeans and t-shirts in the city – don’t do that! What I am saying, is that often who you are as a person, is what is most unique about you – so don’t try and re-invent the wheel.

Be yourself, work on who you are and what you value most about yourself – expand on that, and you will probably find that that, is your most powerful and yet most inexpensive tool that you have. With very little effort and a great deal of value, you will have branded your most unique self.

For more information on Renate, please visit her website at 

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

Tuesday, December 05, 2017

Motivation - Without Dreams


By Nikki Viljoen of Viljoen Consulting CC

Today’s quote comes from Harry Kemp, who says:

“The poor man is not he who is without a cent, but he who is without a dream.”

Well this is good news for me specifically, that’s for sure.  A great deal of my ‘down time’ is spent dreaming.  Sadly though, this is not the case for everyone.

I once had to interview of the staff members, for a client of mine.  He had just bought another company out and when the staff of both companies welded together, there were obviously a great number of overlaps.  So he needed to ascertain who was best for the job at hand.  I did the interviews and checked what they were doing against what the job description was and then against what their CV’s said that they could do and then asked them what they wanted to do – what their passions were.

One chap looked at me quite blankly, when I asked him what his passion was.  He really struggled with the question, grappling for an answer.  Seeing his dilemma, I asked the question “If you won the lotto and you received R20 million, what would you do?”  Sweat broke out on his brow – he was still at a loss.  I asked him what car he drove, he told me it was a 1995 Mazda 323 (this interview took place in 2007), so I asked him, if money was not a problem, what car would he like to have.  He hung his head as if he had done something wrong.  My heart went out to him, it really did.

You see, he was married and his first child had just been born.  He came from a background that was extremely poor and his only focus was how to get food on the table, clothes on his back and a roof over his head.  When he married, his focus did not change, but now included the notion that he now had someone else to be responsible for, and when his baby daughter arrived it increased the pressure because now he had a family to provide for.  He was so busy putting one foot in front of the other that he had not taken the time out to dream!

How incredibly sad is that.

I tried to think how my life would be if I didn’t have dreams and I must admit, I never got it right – I could not imagine my life without the many pictures, video’s and cartoons that flood through my brain at regular interviews.  I’d probably be dead and even then considering my spiritual beliefs, I would still be getting those images!

It’s fun isn’t it – to dream about the next house that you will buy, the next car that you will drive, the places that you hope to visit, the businesses that you build?  Well I think it is!

My life certainly is much richer for the dreams that I have and for the many dreams, in my life that have actually come true – because it’s not just about dreaming, but also about making those dreams a reality.

So whatever it is that you do today, don’t forget to dream!

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

Monday, December 04, 2017

Business Tips - Why Twitter - Part 1

BUSINESS TIPS – Why Twitter – Part 1

By Nikki Viljoen – Viljoen Consulting CC

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, December 01, 2017

HR 101 - What to do When . . . Your Staff Want to Strike - Part 4

HR 101- WHAT TO DO WHEN . . . . Your Staff Want to Strike – Part 4

By Nikki Viljoen – N Viljoen Consulting CC.

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

This week we will look at some tips on ‘how to’ control a strike action.

Often what happens within an organization is that the union has given notice of intention to strike to Management, the employees then go on a mission to increase their numbers and support.  They do this by asking non-union member to join them in the strike.  This usually becomes intimidation and as we have all often seen in the past this can lead to violence.

Make sure that the unions are advised, as soon as the notice of intention to strike has been given, that they are obliged to ensure that all non-union members are not intimidated in any way.  Advise them that it is their responsibility to ensure that they control their members.

Put a notice on notice boards and/or send out an e-mail or a memo to all the staff stating that you have a ‘zero tolerance’ policy in terms of intimidation.  Make sure that they understand that any employee who intimidates another employee will be requested to attend a disciplinary hearing and that if they are found guilty of intimidation, they may be dismissed.

Be aware that proving intimidation is very difficult as the only witness that you may have is the person who was actually intimidated and they often don’t want to give evidence at a disciplinary as this may result in further reprisals against them.

Misconduct, in the form of violence and verbal abuse, should also not be tolerated at all, during a strike.  Again all employees and the union should be notified in writing, that under no circumstances with misconduct in the form of violence, verbal abuse or destruction of property will not be tolerated and anyone found in the Act of Misconduct will face disciplinary procedures and those found guilty may dismissed.  It’s also a good idea to make sure that the union understand that any losses incurred as a direct result of misconduct, will be for their account and that the union will be held liable.  Ensure that the union officials understand that any form of misconduct or intimidation will result in the Company approaching the Labour Court for an urgent interdict.

If possible get a written undertaking from the union acknowledging that they have a duty to control their members during a strike.

If any acts of misconduct or intimidation occur during the strike, make sure that disciplinary hearings are undertaken after the strike is over.  It is of the utmost importance that you do this in order to set a precedent, irrespective of whether the strike had the desired effect or not.  This re-iterates your stand on misconduct and intimidation and sends a clear message that you have ‘zero’ tolerance in terms of intimidation or misconduct.

As usual, prevention is better than cure and so it is a good idea to ensure that you have all of these policies in place before you are in a ‘strike’ type situation.  Put your rules in place, or negotiate your rules with the union about strike related conduct before you are in any kind of dispute and when you are more likely to get a reasonable resolution in place. Obviously, if there is a pre-agreement in place and this is breached in any way, you have to take action – but having a pre-agreement in place means that you are in a much stronger position to do so.

Next week we will look at replacement labour.

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

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Sales 101 - Ever the Student

SALES 101 - Ever the Student

By Nikki Viljoen – Viljoen Consulting April 2009.

It is said that “the best way to become a master at what you do is to combine ‘study’ with ‘practice’ for the rest of your life.”

It is also said that “knowledge is power” although strictly speaking, I believe that it is what you ‘do’ with that knowledge that makes you all powerful!

When I graduated college in 19 . . . , oh hell, it was lifetime ago, I was this fresh faced kid that had been to hell and back, but was a survivor.  I was also done with ‘study’, I was done with sour faced adults who always thought that they knew what was best for me.  I had the world in my future and the future in the palm of my hand.  I was going to conquer the world. Yeah right!

The first reality check came from my first real job, and by that I mean something other than tending bar, or being a ‘shampoo’ girl in a hairdressing salon, or being a sales assistant in a clothing shop (all of which I had done to put myself through college).  You see my first ‘real’ job was in Rhobank in the now Zimbabwe and I was working in the import/export outsourced division of the bank, called Freight International. Ironically this was in the middle of the 70’s and the middle of sanctions by the world against the then Rhodesia.  I don’t think we could have imported a paperclip if we tried and as for our ‘exports’ well the world wanted tobacco – badly, so we found a way and they turned a ‘blind eye’.  Tobacco and believe it or not graphite.  For those who don’t know, graphite becomes the ‘lead’ in your pencil – strange commodity, I am sure you would agree. 

The point is however, that although I was ‘done’ with my perception of ‘study’, the ‘study’ was certainly not done with me.  We don’t come equipped to handle every job or task that comes along and certainly school and/or college and or university doesn’t even begin to give us the fundamentals of what we need for ‘life’.

I found that the more I learnt, to do the work that I had signed up for, the more my natural curiosity got the better of me and the more I wanted to learn – and learn I did.  Numbers held a fascination for me – not in the way that they did for Einstein, but certainly no less of a passion.  Numbers are easy for me to memorize and they somehow just stick there.  For example the Rand/Dollar rate in 1977 was 1/1.12 – (yes folks, believe it or the Rand in those days was more valuable than the dollar $1.12 = R1), my how the wheel turns. 

How about if you are adding up a whole bunch of numbers and you don’t balance and you are out by a number that is divisible by 9, go through the 9 times table – you have transposed for example 27 to 72 or 36 to 63 (depending on the number that you are out by).

Then of course if you are adding up a whole bunch of numbers and you don’t balance and you are out by ‘3’ then you have transposed either a 5 for an 8 or visa versa, or if you are out by ‘5’ then usually you have transposed a 3 for an 8 or visa versa.

Now as I get older, I find myself devouring information, as if there is no tomorrow.  I am ‘challenged’ by the fact that there is still so much more that I want to learn and too little time to not only take it all in, but also to apply it. 

Those who know me, know that I consider myself a techno-phobe, yet I am an internationally recognized blogger, I have what I would consider one of the most amazing websites on the planet and I have learnt how to ‘tweet’ on twitter (which means of course that there are now even less hours in the day for me). 

Not bad for someone who was determined not to do any more ‘study’ don’t you think? 

I consider myself an expert in my field, I have more than adequate knowledge on some topics and an opinion on most.  I continue to grow, emotionally, intellectually and spiritually on a daily basis and I use the knowledge that I have so painstakingly gathered over all these years, every day.

Through my writing, I know (judging from the testimonials on my website) that I have touched the minds and lives of many and in doing so, I have made a difference in the way that people do business and how they sell themselves and their products.

So, remember that ‘study’ is similar, but quite different to learning.  Learn your craft and apply all that you have learnt in order to improve yourself and enrich the lives of others.

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

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Networking 101 - Making Contact Quickly

NETWORKING 101 - Making Contact Quickly

By Nikki Viljoen of N Viljoen Consulting CC

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

“Make contact within three days of meeting people”.

Oh dear!  This is one that I fall down on quite badly sometimes!  Well maybe not hey – you see I try and send everyone an e-mail as soon after I have met them as is humanly possible.  The e-mail tells them a little more about who I am and what it is that I do and also gives them my Business Profile. 

Then here comes the challenge, for me at any rate, contacting those people again telephonically to set up individual meetings!  It could take a week or even more to get hold of that person again and set up a meeting with them.  Those that get hold of me (and I must admit that they are very far and few between) obviously then get an appointment before the rest, but that’s just first come first serve.

Remember it’s in your own best interest to get hold of the person that you met as soon as possible and make an appointment to see them, sit down and have a one on one with them – it increases your ‘circle of influence’ and in so doing it also increases your ‘value add’ and more importantly – it also more often than not, brings you work – whether it’s the person themselves who can give you work or whether it is someone that they know who needs your services or products – it’s all work and that is the bottom line!

For more information on Renate, please visit her website at

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

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Business Tips - Five Mentoring Tips

BUSINESS TIPS – Five Mentoring Tips

By Nikki Viljoen – Viljoen Consulting CC

As many of you may know I am currently working with the Cherie Blair Foundation as a mentor.  One of my fellow mentors, Jenny, shared five of her recommendations for mentors with us.

- “Get down and dirty – you can’t mentor from a distance, you have to get your hands dirty and understand the nitty gritty of what your mentee does”.

Well that sounds like pretty logical advice to me!  The Cherie Blair Foundation mentors and mentees are based literally all over the world and I have yet to come across a mentor mentoring a mentee in their own neck of the woods.  I was matched up to a young lady who originally comes from Kenya, but who now lives Rwanda.  Sure we can’t get ‘up close and personal’ to one another and we rely on SKYPE for our two weekly chats, but the point is that I know exactly what her business is about, what her ‘crisis’ areas are, what her challenges are and how she is or isn’t coping.  It’s all about communication and sharing – her sharing with me and me sharing with her.  I mean really, how could I possibly give someone business advice if I didn’t know the very basics about what business they are in.

- “Open doors – use your connections and your networks to open doors for your mentee.”

The whole idea behind mentoring is about sharing experience and advice and so for me, sharing connections (obviously where appropriate) is also what is called for.  Not only will it benefit your mentee but it will also add value to the person whose details you share.  Networking is a basic resource for any business.

- “Don’t let your mentee off the hook, keep them focused and on track to act.”

Oh thank goodness for this one! I have had several requests from clients as well as colleagues for me to mentor them.  They are really keen to get all the information and experience from me until I tell them that I want a written agenda at least 48 hours before the meeting, that they have to take minutes which must also be given to me prior to the next meeting and that all actions that they have agreed to must have a ‘due by’ date and that those deadlines have to be met.  Remember the whole ‘If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it’ thing – clearly this applies to mentoring as well.

- “Meet regularly – weekly or bi-monthly to keep the momentum going, the sessions can be short and sweet”

You really cannot monitor what your mentee is doing or give them the correct guidance if you are not communicating on a regular basis.  I have found that 20 to 30 minutes every two weeks is more than sufficient once you get going.  The initial meeting(s) will be a bit longer but then that is because you are getting to know one another and to understand the needs of each other.

- “Be prepared to learn as much as your mentee does”.

This one quite honestly I was not prepared for and one that has had the most impact on my life.  Be prepared to listen, carefully – I did and I am so glad that I did.  I have learnt a huge lesson from my mentee and it’s not one that I will forget!

And a final word from me, give your mentee room to grow – don’t give them everything on a platter – steer them in the right direction, but make them think for themselves, often they will come up with their own solution.  This will strengthen their ability to problem solve and ensure that they do not become reliant on you for every decision that they need to make.

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

Monday, November 27, 2017

Motivation - The Right of choice


By Nikki Viljoen of N Viljoen Consulting CC

Today’s quote comes from Oprah Winfrey, who says “Understand that the right to choose your own path is a sacred privilege.  Use it.  Dwell in possibility.”

Actually Oprah comes up with some pretty dynamic stuff from time to time and this is one of those times.  How often do we actually get to choose our own path – well I guess the answer would be All the Time.  Strictly speaking I don’t think that that is true!

Now before everyone starts jumping up and down on my head, let me explain.

I recently parted company with a friend.  It was a relatively ‘new’ friend as the friendship was only about four years old (my ‘oldest’ friendship is going on for forty five years now), so in the grand scheme of things, I wasn’t too emotionally devastated.  Losing or walking away from a friendship is not something that is new to me, however, that said, it is not done lightly.

To give you a brief, if somewhat un-emotional run down of what happened here are the highlights.  Lets call her Anne.

Anne met a new man in November.  I have no problem with that, in fact I have always encouraged her relationships. Within 6 weeks he had purchased her a new lounge suite, new bedroom suite and there were new appliances for the kitchen on order. Still no problem for me as long as you are aware of why all these purchases are taking place.  What did start happening in the beginning of December though, is that suddenly arrangements that were made with me months and weeks before he arrived on the scene, were cancelled at the last minute (I mean an hour or so before we were due to meet) and the cancellation was done by SMS.  Not good.  For me this is disrespectful on two levels.  One is that now I am being treated like I am not good enough (and yes it is my right to choose to believe or react like that) and secondly breaking an arrangement like that should be done in person, even if it is done telephonically, with an explanation – not be SMS.  Again for me that is like saying that I am not worth the call.

Me, being who I am, I confronted her about this and then discovered that the problem is that this man is one of those controlling, manipulating type people.  It also came out that he was now paying most of her bills, rent and the like and that he basically didn’t want her to see anyone (and that included friends) except for himself of course.  Every time she told him of a meeting planned between the two of us, he ‘closed’ his wallet and threw a temper tantrum.  She, now being used to the additional money, gave in and then not wanting any kind of confrontation with me, sent me an SMS to cancel our arrangement.  Well that is also her choice I guess, but it is one that was very cleverly manipulated by this fellow under the guise of – ‘well I’ll help you financially because you have gotten yourself into a bit of a financial situation.”

This kind of behaviour also carries a huge consequence – you see not only has she lost me as a friend (my choice is not to allow anyone to treat me with this kind of disrespect) but further on down the line, she will lose the ability to make any kind of decision of her own – they will all be made by him.  Technically, she will have given him the right to make all decisions for her, because of the control that he will exercise over her in the disguise of money.  Not nice at all, but it was her choice to allow him to do it the second time.

You see, another of Oprah’s sayings is “Believe someone the first time they tell you something!”  The first time he manipulated her with money, she should have made the right choice.  She didn’t and the result is that in a way she has given him “permission” to continue in this way.

Oprah is right when she says that the right to choose is a sacred one.  It is something that many people have gone to war over and have given their lives for.  It is something that we as individuals should treasure and guard.

Whenever we make a choice, we should consciously remember those who made the wrong choice, in the first place, and who as a result of that, now have very little choice at all.

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

Friday, November 24, 2017

HR 101 - What to do When . . . Your Staff Want to Strike - Part 3

HR 101 - WHAT TO DO WHEN . . . . Your Staff Want to Strike – Part 3

By Nikki Viljoen – N Viljoen Consulting CC.

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

Today we are going to look at when a strike is considered protected.  This means that there are certain procedures that the staff and unions have to follow before the strike can be deemed protected.

In terms of Section 64(I)(a), the first thing that needs to happen is that they need to have referred the dispute for conciliation.  They can’t just decide that there is a ‘dead lock’ in negotiations and they were therefore strike.  They have to refer the dispute to the CCMA or the bargaining council.  Clearly it is incumbent upon them as well as the employer to try and resolve the dispute before any strike can take place.

After that, should a Certificate of Outcome, stating that the issue has been resolved be issued or after 30 days (or any extension to this that has been agreed to by the employer and the employee) after the first referral was received by the bargaining council or the CCMA, employees will have the right to strike.  Remember that it is one of the two alternatives, not both.

The second thing that needs to happen is that the staff must give notice of intention to strike.  The employer needs to receive the notice of intention to strike at least 48 hours prior to when the strike will begin.  The notice of intention to strike must clearly state the starting time and date of the strike.  Please remember that if the dispute relates in any way to a collective agreement that was decided and completed in a bargaining council then the notice of intention to strike must also be given to that council. In the instances where the employees are also a member of their employer’s organization that is also a part or been part of the dispute in question, then the notice of intention to strike must also be given to that particular organization too.

The third thing that has to happen, is that if the issue in dispute is about a refusal to bargain, the employees must obtain ‘an advisory arbitration award.’  This advisory arbitration award, must be obtained prior to the notice of intention to strike being issued.

A question that is often asked is whether a strike can be called unprotected even if the procedures that have been documented above have been followed.

The answer, as always is as clear as mud – yes it can, depending on what the dispute is about.  Clearly each case should be judged on its own merit because of the way in which things are ‘written’ and documented.  It’s about the law you see, and usually anything to do with the law means that some bright spark somewhere will find a loop hole or something that has not been clearly (enough) documented.

Let’s have a look at an example of this.

George and his fellow worker, have insisted on a minimum wage of R25.00 an hour.  Mike is prepared to pay R8.00.  Eventually, after much negotiation and name calling both parties agree that R10.00 per hour is a fair amount for the minimum wage, across the board.  The union then decides, well they think it should be R11.00 – nothing prevents them from asking for more than what has already been agreed to.  The Union now says that Mike is refusing to bargain and they proceed to put the procedures in place to start the strike process.  In this particular instance, a clause needs to be inserted allowing for an increase to the minimum wage.  This will negate the necessity for collective bargaining about wages increases at shop floor level. 

As you can see however, it is in your own best interests (not to mention the drain on your financial resources) to get a really good Labour Attorney involved in any of these types of discussions or negotiations as failure to cross the obligatory ‘t’ or dot the ‘i’ could result in costing you a lot of money in the long run.

That all said, there are also some instances where employees can strike without following any kind of procedures.

If Mike were to change the working hours, or the age of retirement or the benefits that have been documented in the Letters or Contracts of Employment, without entering into any kind of negotiation with the employees, George and his fellow workers could go on strike and because the regulatory issues governed in Section 64(4), if Mike does not restore everything to the way it was, they would not have to follow any of the procedures that would normally have to be followed before submitting a notice of intention to strike.

Next week we will have a look at some tips on how to control a strike action.

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

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Sales 101 - Be Realistic About the Outcome.

SALES 101 - Be Realistic About the Outcome.

By Nikki Viljoen – Viljoen Consulting March 2009.

There is a huge difference between having an outcome that we want and the outcome that we usually get!  Not achieving what we want, in terms of sales can be devastating.  Our confidence goes for a ‘ball of chalk’, we feel depressed and worthless and worst of all is that our motivation takes a leave of absence and we have to ‘kick start’ ourselves every morning just to get going.

Cold calling and the difficulties associated with the constant rejection that is the reality of this method of sales can be very draining and soul destroying, particularly if our expectations are not in line with reality.

Here’s the thing though – even the top sales people on the planet are rejected on a regular basis.  That’s the truth.

Think about it logically for a moment, what are the chances that the person that you want to speak to, is unavailable to chat to you, when you are available to chat to them? How many times have you phoned a friend and had to leave a message because they did not answer the phone?  When that happens how do did you react?  Did you feel rejected and unloved?  Of course not.  Usually you would just leave a message, understanding that the friend is not available and then go on about your business.  So how about using that tactic when you ‘cold call’ a company.  Just leave a message for the person to contact you and go on about your business.

Then there is the person that you actually get hold of and for whatever reason, they don’t have the problem that your particular product or service can do anything about.  Once again you feel rejected.  Go back to the scenario of your friend.  You need to borrow a drill from a friend and you phone the first one that you think may have one, but he doesn’t – so now you have the sulks!  Of course not – you probably have a laugh about it and then phone the next friend who may have one.  You go about your business – you need to do the same thing here.  So this particular prospective client does not need your product or service – ok, but there are still thousands who do, so instead of sitting there feeling sorry for yourself, move forward to the next one.

Now what about the person who does have a problem that your product or service can definitely sort out, but he is currently busy with someone else or something else and cannot discuss anything with you right now.  So what do you do – it’s your choice you know.  Some will sulk and get all bent out of shape, some will try and force the conversation and the sale and of course, some will make a note to phone the prospect again.  Just a word of warning here, if you are the one who tries to force the conversation and the sale, all you end up doing is killing the sale even before you have started.  There is nothing more irritating than a salesperson who won’t listen.  They very seldom make it through the door a second time. 

Each time you phone a prospect, you should understand that there are several outcomes that could happen.  Be prepared for each one.  In fact, write down on a piece of paper all the different types of answers that you may get and understand that you may not get the one that you want.  Don’t hype yourself up and get yourself expectations that are so far from reality that they are preposterous.  The only person you will hurt is yourself.  Don’t take it personally – some times things are just what they are, and they are not always about you.  Your prospects also have lives that they are busy with and their priorities will be different to yours.  Understanding this will go a long way towards you reaching a realistic goal.

Setting yourself unrealistic goals and not achieving them is setting yourself up for failure all round.  Setting yourself realistic goals and then achieving them will only boost your confidence. 

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

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Networking 101 - Quality before Quantity

NETWORKING 101 - Quality before Quantity

By Nikki Viljoen of N Viljoen Consulting CC

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

“Making two or three good contacts at an event is good enough.  You don’t have to ‘work’ the whole room”.

Now she tells me!  This is one of the biggest mistakes that I made when I first went to Networking events and meetings.  In my enthusiasm I wanted to talk to everybody and ran around frenetically trying to get every person’s card and then afterwards trying desperately to get an appointment with someone!  That was really hard work and in many ways very soul destroying too.

You see many people don’t understand the value of networking and so they couldn’t see the connection or synergies that ‘could have been’ and the result of that of course was that they couldn’t see why there was a need to meet with me in the first place, let alone discuss ways in which we could help one another.  That, for me was, and still is, very difficult to understand.

Anyway, the bottom line is that I was spending a huge amount of time and energy on people who could not see the value of what I was doing – so quite frankly – why bother!

Nowadays, even if I only make one contact, that for me is good enough.  That one person, understanding what networking is all about and the value that I not only get from that person, but the value that I can give to that person, is worth far more to me in time, effort and good referrals than 100 people who cannot see the value and have no interest in what I am doing.

So be selective, get in touch with ‘like minded people’ – don’t waste your time and energy on those who cannot or will not see!

For more information on Renate, please visit her website at 

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

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Business Tips - Documentation and SARS

BUSINESS TIPS – Documentation and SARS

By Nikki Viljoen – Viljoen Consulting CC – May 2013

Please note that this pertains to South  African SARS (South African Revenue Services) requirements.

On a daily basis I meet with people who are either starting their own businesses or alternatively there are those who have been in business for many years now – irrespective of where they are in this particular journey called life, they more often than not, have no clue about the legal requirements around the retention of their business documents.

The harsh reality is that not only is there a legal requirement in terms of what documents must be kept there are also requirements on how long these documents must be kept and they are not all just about the financial records either.  Some need to be kept for only a couple of years, others for up to 5 or 7 or even 15 or so years and others that have to be retained ‘indefinitely’.

Add to all of this the digital and electronic age and although in many ways this simplifies life there are also instances where this will complicate things.

Take for example the tax records . . . it has been promulgated into law that the tax records and financial documentation pertaining to these records can be stored in their electronic form provided that they are stored electronically in a physical location in South Africa.  Furthermore, if the taxpayer wishes to store and maintain their accounting or invoicing records using ‘the cloud’ technology or servers outside of South African borders, they will need to obtain written approval from a Senior SARS officiator.

Apparently though, obtaining authority to do this is not an easy achievement either, as the following requirements have to be met.  These are (but not limited to):-

- You have to be able to easily access these records here in SA.
- Irrespective of the location of these servers, this should not affect the access to the records.
- It is a requirement that the country where the servers are hosted has to have an international tax agreement with South Africa for reciprocal tax assistance.
- That the taxpayer in South Africa has to be able to produce an acceptable electronic form of the record – ideally it should look exactly like its paper hardcopy equivalent and
- The storage capabilities must meet all storage requirements.

Additional challenges that may be encountered are in the form of system description development should the software or electronic platform not be commonly used and/or recognized in South Africa, so beware of all the ‘off the shelf’ products that may have been developed in India or the USA as they may carry ‘hidden’ costs.

Be sure to have properly researched what you purchase to ensure that SARS requirements are always met – it will be cheaper in the long run.

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

Monday, November 20, 2017

Motivation - The Seed


This was not written by Nikki Viljoen of Viljoen Consulting CC.  In fact she has not idea who wrote it and where it came from – it is however, very pertinent to life!

A successful Christian business man was growing old and knew it was time to choose a successor to take over the business.

Instead of choosing one of his Directors or his children, he decided to do something different. He called all the young executives in his company together.

He said, "It is time for me to step down and choose the next CEO. I have decided to choose one of you. "The young executives were shocked, but the boss continued." I am going to give each one of you a SEED today - one very special SEED. I want you to plant the seed, water it, and come back here one year from today with what you have grown from the seed I have given you. I will then judge the plants that you bring, and the one I choose will be the next CEO."

One man, named Jim, was there that day and he, like the others, received a seed. He went home and excitedly, told his wife the story. She helped him get a pot, soil and compost and he planted the seed. Everyday, he would water it and watch to see if it had grown. After about three weeks, some of the other executives began to talk about their seeds and the plants that were beginning to grow. Jim kept checking his seed, but nothing ever grew.

Three weeks, four weeks, five weeks went by, still nothing. By now, others were talking about their plants, but Jim didn't have a plant and he felt like a failure. Six months went by, still nothing in Jim's pot. He just knew he had killed his seed. Everyone else had trees and tall plants, but he had nothing. Jim didn't say anything to his colleagues, however. He just kept watering and fertilizing the soil - He so wanted the seed to grow.

A year finally went by and all the young executives of the company brought their plants to the CEO for inspection. Jim told his wife that he wasn't going to take an empty pot. But she asked him to be honest about what happened. Jim felt sick to his stomach, it was going to be the most embarrassing moment of his life, but he knew his wife was right. He took his empty pot to the board room. When Jim arrived, he was amazed at the variety of plants grown by the other executives. They were beautiful, in all shapes and sizes. Jim put his empty pot on the floor and many of his colleagues laughed, a few felt sorry for him!

When the CEO arrived, he surveyed the room and greeted his young executives. Jim just tried to hide in the back. "My, what great plants, trees, and flowers you have grown," said the CEO. "Today one of you will be appointed the next CEO!" All of a sudden, the CEO spotted Jim at the back of the room with his empty pot. He ordered the Financial Director to bring him to the front. Jim was terrified. He thought, "The CEO knows I'm a failure! Maybe he will have me fired!"

When Jim got to the front, the CEO asked him what had happened to his seed - Jim told him the story.

The CEO asked everyone to sit down except Jim. He looked at Jim, and then announced to the young executives, "Behold your next Chief Executive Officer!

His name is Jim!" Jim couldn't believe it. Jim couldn't even grow his seed. "How could he be the new CEO?" the others said.

Then the CEO said, "One year ago today, I gave everyone in this room a seed. I told you to take the seed, plant it, water it, and bring it back to me today.

But I gave you all boiled seeds; they were dead - it was not possible for them to grow. All of you, except Jim, have brought me trees and plants and flowers.

When you found that the seed would not grow, you substituted another seed for the one I gave you. Jim was the only one with the courage and honesty to bring me a pot with my seed in it. Therefore, he is the one who will be the new Chief Executive Officer!"

*   If you plant honesty, you will reap trust

*   If you plant goodness, you will reap friends

*   If you plant humility, you will reap greatness

*   If you plant perseverance, you will reap contentment

*   If you plant consideration, you will reap perspective

*   If you plant hard work, you will reap success

*   If you plant forgiveness, you will reap reconciliation

*   If you plant faith, you will reap a harvest

So, be careful what you plant now; it will determine what you will reap later.

Friday, November 17, 2017

HR 101 - What to do When. . . Your Staff Want to Strike - Part 2

HR 101 - WHAT TO DO WHEN . . . . Your Staff Want to Strike – Part 2

By Nikki Viljoen – N Viljoen Consulting CC.

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

So what we now know is when the staff cannot strike – let’s take a step backwards though and define exactly what a strike is:

Section 213 of the Labour Relations Act (LRA) says “The partial or complete concerted refusal to work or the retardation or obstruction of work, by persons who are or have been employed by the same employer or by different employers, for the purpose of remedying a grievance or resolving a dispute in respect of any matter of mutual interest between an employer and an employee, and reference to ‘work’ in this definition includes overtime work, whether it is voluntary or compulsory.”

What does all of this actually mean? 

This means that in order for it to be termed ‘a strike’ there have to be three definite components.

The first one of course has several parts to it and it revolves around the issue of work.  It is (but not limited to):

“Refusal to work”.  This means that any refusal to work, whether it is a ‘go slow’ or work relating to overtime or even if the employee refuses to ‘clock in/out’ and so on.   So let’s take the example of George, who is in a production line at a factory.  George’s job is to pack the finished product into tissue paper, place it back onto the conveyer belt and from there it goes to the next person who packs the wrapped product into a box.  George abandons his station at the conveyer belt and refuses to wrap any of the product thereby refusing to perform any of his duties.
“Partial refusal to work”.  In this instance George stands at the conveyer belt and wraps only some of the product into the tissue paper and then also refuses to place the wrapped items onto the conveyer belt.  In this instance he is only refusing to perform some of is duties but not all.
“Retardation of work.”  In this example, George continues to perform his duties but at a rate that is as slow as possible, without coming to a dead stop.  This is commonly known as ‘a go slow’.  George’s manager asks George to assist with the packing of the product into boxes, but George refuses as his contract does not specifically state that he must pack product into boxes.  This is known as ‘work to rule.”
“Obstruction of work”.  In this instance George does not wrap the product at all but does put the unwrapped product onto the conveyor belt which means the product cannot be packed but must be removed from the packing area and taken back up to the point where it should be wrapped by George, before any packing of boxes can continue.

The second component in terms of a strike, is that a single employee cannot strike and it therefore has to be two or more employees that refuse to work before it can be considered a strike.

The final component in a strike is that there has to be purpose to the strike which is usually to resolve a dispute or to remedy a grievance.  To resolve a dispute is usually around the issue of salary increases or benefits and a grievance is usually around issues of perceptions of unfair dismissal.  In this instance George is dismissed for dishonesty in that some of the wrapped product ended up in his pockets or in his home without any of it being paid for.  George is disciplined, found guilty of misconduct and dismissed and his colleagues feel that he has been dismissed unfairly and go on a strike in an effort to force management to give George his job back.

Please remember that a grievance of any nature can be and is anything that is between the employer and the employee whether there has been a collection bargaining process or not.

Next week we will look at protected and unprotected strikes.

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

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Sales 101 - Finding the Right Prospects

SALES 101 - Finding the Right Prospects

By Nikki Viljoen – Viljoen Consulting 

As much as you need to have a really intimate knowledge of your product or service, so to do you need to know who your prospect or target market is.

Many small business owners like to think that their particular product or service is something that every single person on the planet has to have!  Well as much as that may be true in a Utopian world and as much as they would like to think that, the reality of the situation is that that is simply not true for a number of reasons.

There are those that will not see the value of what it is that you are offering, those who just cannot afford what you are offering, those that are just not in the right demographics to know what you are offering  and of course those who have no clue what you are offering.

Then from your side, you have to actually understand who it is that you need to target.

Think about sitting in a restaurant – the place is packed, waitrons are rushing around trying to get everyone fed and watered.  Some people are upset because they have been given the wrong food or it has not been cooked to their specifications, others are tired of waiting and are ready to walk out – on the other hand there are those who have really enjoyed their meals or are enjoying their meals.  Some have finished and are leaving, others are arriving.  Some are young, some are middle aged, some are grannies and grandpas.  Some are European, some are oriental, some are from right here in South Africa, some are from other countries.  Some come from rich homes and others from poor homes, some are male and some are female.  Do you get the picture yet?

You see, even though the restaurant’s target market are ‘hungry people’ there are different kinds of hungry people.  People who have different tastes and have different expectations.  Some who want fish and others who want meat or chicken and then of course those that only eat vegetables.  The chef has to understand all these different variables and ensure that he can accommodate all the different taste buds.  The restaurant manager have to make sure that their waitrons are properly trained and that they can handle the pressure of serving difficult clients as there are patrons that enjoy being fussed over and others that don’t, but still want good service. There are diners that want ice in their drinks and others that don’t and still some that want a single ice cube or two – the waitrons have to remember all of this, get the orders right and delivered on time to the correct person and so on.

Understand a little better now?

So, make a list of who your target market is, then for each target market that you have listed, draw down and make a list of all the sub-groups.

Once you have identified all of your sub-groups, make a list of the best prospect or the person that you would most like to deal with and why you would like to deal with them.  Once you have done that, make a list and select the top three things that your product or service has that would win them over and another list and select the top three problems that they may encounter that you would then be able to resolve. Don’t try and fix things that you have no control over – focus on what you can fix.

The list with the things about the product that would win them over becomes the focus of what you sell to your target market and the list of problems will ensure that you are ready to respond to any problems that you may encounter.

Do you see how you have narrowed your prospects down?  If you have followed these suggestions, in all probability you have found the target market that is most right for you.

Now all you need to do is get selling – and remember, always have fun!

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

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Networking 101 - Don't Confuse Networking with Friendship

NETWORKING 101 - Don’t Confuse Networking with Friendship

By Nikki Viljoen of N Viljoen Consulting CC

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

“Don’t confuse networking with friendship.”

Actually, whilst we are on the subject, don’t confuse business (of any kind) with friendship either – they are two different issues that should inhabit two different spaces in your life – if they don’t and if you confuse or blur the line the result could mean the loss of business or the loss of the friendship – so be careful about what you are doing and make sure that the lines and boundaries are very visible and very clear to all parties concerned.

Don’t get me wrong there is nothing wrong with social networking, in fact you can make some really great contacts and even do some really good business on places like LinkedIn or even Facebook but I wouldn’t rely on them as the sole focus of my networking commitments.  I would use them rather as tools to enhance what I already have.

There are a huge number of other Networking opportunities out there both from a local perspective as well as internationally. There will always be some that feel a whole lot more comfortable than others – it’s a matter of choice.  I would not say that one is necessarily better than the other – it’s about what works for you at the end of the day.

Having said that however, you need to take the first step and actually get onto the site or get to a meeting and get going!   Networking takes work, it doesn’t just happen!

For more information on Renate, please visit her website at

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

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Business Tips - Setting Goals

BUSINESS TIPS – Setting Goals

By Nikki Viljoen – Viljoen Consulting CC

I am sure that you have all heard the old adage that “if you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it”!  Although many business owners faithfully quote this saying almost on a daily basis, the sad reality is that few actually use it themselves.

The reality is that few actually set goals for themselves – goals that they can actually leverage off for their own personal successes. Goals that are specific, that can be measured – that have meaning and make perfectly logical sense.  Goals that motivate and excite them, that make them jump out of bed in the morning, ready and rearing to face the day.

Many business owners strategize for the business, for the staff, for the clients, for the suppliers  . . .  but fail to develop strategies for themselves.

So the challenge today is for you to develop a strategy for yourself, then work out your plan.  It might be something as simple as getting yourself to more ‘self-development’ type workshops or as complicated as working a four day week, and then a three day week and then a two day week and then a four hour week.

Whatever it is, write it down.  Set actions with deadlines and then focus on achieving your goal.

You know that it is something that you should do, you know it is something that you want to do and most importantly, you know it is something that you can do!

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

Monday, November 13, 2017

Motivation - The Smallest Decision - The Biggest Change

MOTIVATION – The Smallest Decision – The Biggest Change

By Nikki Viljoen of N Viljoen Consulting CC – March 2010

Kerri Russell says “Sometimes it’s the smallest decisions that can change your life forever.”

Much has happened in the last week that not only echo these words but also highlights them and I must admit that I sat in front of a blank screen for quite a while, waiting for inspiration to show itself.  Not that I have ever suffered from writers block, you understand, but purely from a place of finding the right words.

We make hundreds and thousands of decisions each day – some of them are conscious and many are not.  Some have little or even no consequence (that we are consciously aware of – but remember every action has a consequence) others carry profound consequences.

Think about if for a moment – how many times have we taken the wrong fork in the road and ended up lost or going in the wrong direction?  How many times have we second guessed ourselves only to find ourselves in a place that we really didn’t want to be or even need to be.  Those are the negatives and as negative as they seem to be, they are a reality and we need to be aware of them and aware of how we deal and engage with them. 

I want to however, deal with the positives.

I have often had the pleasure of a chance encounter with someone, who has then turned out to be ‘exactly what the doctor ordered’.  It is said that the Universe or God (whomever you perceive him to be) sends exactly the people that you need in your life at exactly the right time that you need them and I certainly find this to be true in my life. I have often made a last minute decision to go or be somewhere and then met someone who has had a profound effect upon my life.  I have often, as an afterthought said or done something, that has led to greater things or even a greater understanding of who I am and what my life’s purpose is.

Many of the articles that I write here, under the banner of “Motivation” have been written to challenge you the reader, but believe me most of them have challenged me, many have taunted me until I got it right or made the decision or changed my mindset.  The fact that I am writing at all was because of the ‘smallest decision’ and look at the profound affect it has had on my life.

Each day, as I sit down to write the article, especially the “Motivation” articles, I often find myself excited, nervous and above all eager to find out what it is that I will write – what the words will mean in my life and how I will choose to react to them. I find myself smiling at my recognition of the truth as I read the words that I am writing.  I find myself kicking my own rear end, as I take up the challenge that I have just laid down for you to do and I find myself wanting to know more, to understand more and to be all that I can be.

Who would have thought that Vanessa’s (my mentor and friend) statement that I should be writing would one day turn into this?  Who would have thought that a little decision to write, to commit my thoughts and opinions to paper, would result in international ratings and rankings and recognition.

Who would have thought it  . . . . . certainly not me!

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

Friday, November 10, 2017

HR 101 - WHAT TO DO WHEN . . . . Your Staff Want to Strike – Part 1

HR 101 - WHAT TO DO WHEN . . . . Your Staff Want to Strike – Part 1

By Nikki Viljoen – N Viljoen Consulting CC.

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

How much do we actually know about when the employee can strike and when they can’t?

Let’s explore this situation together.  Firstly let’s have a look at when employees can’t strike.

According to the Department of Labour and the Labour Relations Act (LRA), employees cannot strike if (but not limited to):-

1. the employees have entered into an agreement that they have collectively entered into that then prevents them to strike because of the reason why they want to strike.  Ok that sounds very confusing, let’s give an example.  Let’s say that the workers and management have all agreed to an incentive bonus at the end of the year based on performance and turnover and profit.  The first year that this is happening, the performance of the employees has not been great and this has resulted in the company not making targets because the turnover was not great and then because of huge theft in the warehouse, the profits are really bad.  The union cannot now call for the company to present 13th cheques as a bonus.  In this instance if the workers went on strike it would be deemed illegal.

2. the employees have entered into an agreement where any disputes have to be referred to arbitration. What does this mean, let’s have another example. The employees (and/or the Union) have signed a document stating that they will not strike and/or call for strike action until an issue (whatever that issue and/or disagreement may be) has been referred to arbitration. If the matter is still at a deadlock, with neither side being able to move, then under certain conditions (and they then have to list these), strike action may be called for. So the employer offers an increase of 8%, the employees decide that that is not good enough, they want an increase of 20%.  Neither side backs down and the union now calls for strike action.  In this instance if the workers went on strike it would be deemed illegal because they have not gone through the arbitration process.

3. ‘the issue in dispute is one that a party has the right to refer to arbitration or the Labour Court in terms of the Act.’  Again – what does this mean?  Let’s assume that one of the employees was caught with his hands in the cookie jar so to speak.  He has stolen large quantities of money and he has been disciplined and found guilty of misconduct and he has been dismissed.  His fellow workers are really angry about his dismissal because they pretty much like the guy and well stealing from your employee is actually not a bad thing, so they go on strike demanding that he be re-instated.  This would be considered an illegal strike as the dismissed employee has not (yet) gone to the CCMA for arbitration.

4. the employee works in what is considered an essential service or a maintenance service.  So this would be people like nurses and/or the refuse removal guys and so on.

Next week let’s look at exactly what a strike is and when a strike can happen.

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

Thursday, November 09, 2017

Sales 101 - Finding What Your Customer Wants

SALES 101 – Finding What Your Customer Wants

By Nikki Viljoen – Viljoen Consulting CC November  2009.

The easiest sales usually come about with the right kind of marketing and quite frankly I was not really sure where to put this particular article – there is such a huge divide between sales, marketing and branding and yet they are so incredibly close too. So if your perception is that it should be under something else . .  well just pretend that it is!

Here we go –

Let’s take the same product, in the same place.  On one of “The Apprentice” shows the challenge was to see which team could sell the most food at a football game.  Both teams had exactly the same food, both teams were at the same game, both teams had the same number of members.

Team # 1 had hundreds of people crowded around the point where they were selling the food from.  They had cheerleaders doing whatever it is that cheerleaders do, there were eating type competitions, lots of ra ra going on and lots of people everywhere.  Sounds quite like fun doesn’t it.  I am sure it was a lot of fun, but they did not win – Team # 2 did.

Team # 2 did not have a specific point where they sold the food from.  There were no cheerleaders, there was no ra ra.  So what happened?  What made Team # 1 and Team # 2 so very different.

Well let’s examine the setting.  Why do most people go to a football game?  For me the most logical answer is ‘because they want to see the game’!  

If you are going to the football game to watch the game, logic must tell you that you will not wanting to be queuing to buy food and drink, irrespective of how gorgeous the cheerleaders are, or what the prize is for the eating competition.  You’re there to watch the game and speaking from my own experience, I even resent having to queue up to go to the bathrooms.

So being logical again, it stands to reason that I would prefer it if someone came around to me with food and drink.  It would mean that my focus was removed from the game (as I decided and ordered whatever it was that I wanted to eat or drink) for seconds rather than hours.  

Here’s the other thing – people who get exactly what it is that they want, when they want it, don’t usually have a problem with paying more for it.  Again, speaking from my own experience I would much rather pay say R30.00 for a steak roll that was delivered to me in my seat than say R15.00 for the same steak roll that I had to get up and go and find in another part of the stadium, where I had the irritation of having to queue for 15 to 20 minutes, have people pushing and shoving at me (we all know how that happens in a queue and it is one of my personal pet hates) and then when I eventually get back to my seat, I have missed most of the play and as luck would usually have it, the best goal/catch/run (insert whatever you want here).  That would just annoy me immensely!

So what does that tell me?  Simple really, “The key to success in business is GIVING PEOPLE WHAT THEY WANT”.  

Very simple, yet so many people get it all wrong!

So change your mindset – find out how to do things better, or faster, more profitable but most of all, find out what it is that people want and then give it to them in a better way, or much faster and then watch how your profits grow!

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