Friday, August 18, 2017

HR 101 - What to Do When . . . You Want to Dismiss Staff - Part 6

HR 101 - WHAT TO DO WHEN . . . . You Want To Dismiss Staff? Part 6

By Nikki Viljoen – N Viljoen Consulting CC.

Staff who take part in, or participate in any way, a strike that does not comply with the provisions in chapter iv of the Act, are by default, guilty of misconduct.

Please remember, just because they have taken part in an illegal strike, and that that is considered “misconduct”, it does not necessarily mean that they deserve to be dismissed.  It still has to be determined whether or not a dismissal is fair.

In these instances the following needs to be taken into consideration:
- the seriousness of the contravention of the Act
- whether any attempt was make to comply with the Act
- whether or not the strike was in response to any unjustified conduct by the employer.

Before dismissal takes place the employer must, discuss the intended dismissal or any other action that they intend to take, with the trade union concerned.

The employer also needs to make it very clear, in simple language that all can understand, the terms and conditions of what is required and what the consequences will be, should they not comply with the requirements.

Once again the employees should be allowed a reasonable amount of time, in which to make a decision to either agree to the requirements or reject them.

Once again there may be instances where the employer cannot reasonably be expected to comply with these requirements, with the employees concerned.  In these instances the employer may disregard the guidelines.  Again this must be documented and a copy retained in the employee’s personnel file.

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


Thursday, August 17, 2017

Sales 101 - Be a Specialist

SALES 101 - Be a Specialist

By Nikki Viljoen – Viljoen Consulting CC

This one is a case of ‘Do as I tell you, don’t do as I do’ kind of article.  You see, although I am a ‘specialist’ in what I do, I am also a ‘generalist’ in what I know!  Talk about confusing the masses!

Actually it’s not that difficult.  Let me explain – as an Internal Auditor, I was trained (and through experience over the years) to notice certain things.  Let’s me be honest here – if you have changed your hairstyle or bought a new outfit, generally speaking, I won’t notice anything at all.  Put me in a ‘business or working’ environment though and I will be able to spot everything ‘out of the ordinary’ and even some things that you never even thought about looking at.  Now here comes the kicker – it doesn’t matter if that business or working environment is in the retail sector, manufacturing sector, security sector, medical sector – in fact any sector that you could possibly think of, I would still be able to tell you if something was ‘off’.  So in this instance, although I am a ‘specialist’ in what I do, I am also a ‘generalist’ too.

Ok, now that we have that out of the way, let’s get back to the business at hand.  I love going to the Rosebank flea market – not because I love to shop – but because that’s where I buy my slippers and that’s where I love to buy cheese and there are one or two second hand book stalls that I have to be very disciplined in when I get there.  The rest of the flea market – quite honestly, I don’t even bother with.  The reason for that is that they are all the same!  Every stall sells the same thing – all the clothing stalls sell more or less the same clothing, all the tourist souvenir spots all sell the same and boredom sets in very quickly.

Think about it logically for a moment – if you are exactly the same as all of your competitors, the whole thing becomes quite monotonous and actually what you are doing is making selling that much harder for yourself.  Who wants to make life harder for themselves.  Certainly not me, and I suspect you wouldn’t want to do that either.

So now logic must tell you that you have to make yourself different in some way, more exciting, more appealing.  You could ‘narrow’ your target market a bit – make whatever you do (product or service) more specialized.  Up your credibility or your service.  Collaborate with someone else and give ‘more’ than expected.

Whatever it is that you decide to do, remember you have to be ‘a cut above the rest’ – be noticed, be remembered, be credible, be authentic.

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, August 16, 2017

Networking 101 - More Tips for Introverts

Networking 101 - More Tips for Introverts

By Nikki Viljoen of N Viljoen Consulting CC

Following on from last week’s offerings on Networking for Introverts, here are some more tips for other Introverts.

When I first started looking for business at networking events, I felt that I had to get myself to every networking function that was available.  Please believe me when I tell you that I spent many a very uncomfortable hour standing around trying to force myself to smile and introduce myself to total strangers, because I wanted their business desperately, whilst trying to look casual, professional and anything but desperate.  Going to every meeting that was taking place was a really good thing though because, no matter how difficult it was at the time that is how I learnt, what kind of  meeting best suited me.  For me (and I suspect that this would work for most of the other introverts out there) a semi-facilitated, loosely structured type of environment works best.  At least I am sort of introduced to people, (not necessarily one at a time or even one on one) and they recognise me (and I them) and we can strike up a conversation and get talking.  Going to networking functions where you don’t know any one and nobody knows you and you have to go up to strangers and introduce yourself is like going ‘cold calling’!  That, as far as I am concerned is for the birds and I am not a vulture!

So now, when a new meeting (with a bunch of people that I have not come across yet) is marketed or I am invited to attend something new, I always go to check it out, but that does not necessarily mean that I will automatically join up.  There are different types of networking meetings and I function better at these when I feel comfortable in my surroundings.  This also does not mean that I am restricted to one group – quite the contrary – I belong to several different groups, each one slightly different from the other, but all semi-facilitated, loosely structured and made up of individuals who are serious about doing business!

Find the type of meeting that fits with you as an individual.  Make sure that you feel comfortable, meet the individuals and grab all of the opportunities that come your way.

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

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Business Tips - Managing Your Business - Part 3

BUSINESS TIPS – Managing Your Business – Part 3

By Nikki Viljoen – Viljoen Consulting CC

So far we have dealt  with Finance and Margins.  Today we have a look at your Customer’s requirements.

In my experience, one of the biggest challenges for SMME’s (Small, Medium, Micro Enterprises) is retaining clients.  Now I am really not sure why this should be since the fact of the matter is that it is easier to sell to existing clients than it is to procure new ones.  So what’s the deal? Perhaps it is because we don’t really know who and what a customer is!

The Wiki says that “A customer (also known as a client, buyer, or purchaser) is usually used to refer to a current or potential buyer or user of the products of an individual or organization, called the supplier, seller, or vendor. This is typically through purchasing or renting goods or services.”
So how do we retain our customers?  How do we ensure that we not only find new customers, but that we continue to sell our services and our products to current customers or even customers who we have not sold anything to in years?

Well there seems to be a whole host of different options and tips – some of these are (but not limited to):
- The personal touch.  Here’s an example of both good and bad.  I have been a client of Nedbank in my personal capacity  for in excess of 30 years now, and in my business capacity for almost 15 years – quite frankly I bank with them through absolute habit, it certainly is not because of the service that they have given me over the years, but rather the perceived hassle of changing banks, debit orders etc. that keeps me with them.  I have no idea who my ‘personal banker’ is, or if indeed I have one.  I have been dealing with the Cresta branch for the last 20 odd years and sadly the only person who knows my name, when I walk in, is the security guard.  In my opinion, the security guard should be doing their PR, he greets most people by name, always with a smile and a sunny disposition and the good that that does is soon smashed to pieces by the ineffectual, anal retentive service received by the branch staff. So make sure that you give your clients your absolute attention and use your personal touch as part of your branding and marketing.
- Assumption – I always say that perception and assumption are the two most dangerous words on the planet – and certainly what I am going to say now will bear that out.  Just because your customers are not complaining, don’t assume that everything is peachy!  Your perception of ‘everyone is happy because no-one is complaining’ is probably so far off the mark that it is scary.  Many people don’t complain, they just vote with their feet or their wallets.  Ask them if they are happy and if they aren’t do something about it!
- Expectations – all customers expect to receive good service and that is a reasonable expectation.  Not only meeting that expectation, but exceeding it will bring them great delight and will go a long way to ensure that they become loyal customers.  Remember though, do it once and the customer will expect even more the next time around, so don’t stop trying to do better.
- Customization – “One man’s food is another man’s poison!”  Just because one client is crazy about your product or your service, doesn’t mean that everyone will be.  Be prepared to ‘customize’ your product or service to meet the requirement of the client.  In fact, make sure that what you are selling (service or product) is what the client wants, rather than what you think that the client may need.

Next time we will have a look at managing your working capital.

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, August 14, 2017

Motivation - Teacher

MOTIVATION - TEACHER

By Nikki Viljoen of N Viljoen Consulting CC

The quote today comes from William Arthur Ward who says:

The mediocre teacher tells.

The good teacher explains.

The superior teacher demonstrates.

The great teacher inspires.

I know that from a personal perspective, I have always had the most out of someone (teacher or not) who inspires.  People who “tell” me things get my interest, but that is about all and yes it is great when people can explain things to me, especially if I do not understand the concept.  It’s good to explain so that you can get a ‘buy in’ and certainly the teacher, who demonstrates, will also get my attention, but usually just until the demonstration is over.  For me, the bonus is a teacher who can do all of the above – man oh man, that is pure inspiration!

A teacher can tell you about passion, a teacher can explain what passion is all about.  I dare say that, on occasion, a teacher can even demonstrate what passion is, but for me my mentor, inspires the passion in me.

Some time ago, I wrote about my mentor – she inspires me.  She challenges me to be all that I can be and then some more.

We are all, in one way or another ‘teachers’, whether by formal training or not.  We teach our children, our animals, our staff, our friends and acquaintances – most of all we teach ourselves as we learn about life.

What kind of impression will be your legacy?  What kind of teacher are you?

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




Friday, August 11, 2017

HR 101 - What to do When . . . You Want to Dismiss Staff - Part 5

HR 101 - WHAT TO DO WHEN . . . . You Want To Dismiss Staff? Part 5

By Nikki Viljoen – N Viljoen Consulting CC.

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

Following on from last time . So what exactly would be considered as “fair practice”?

Let’s examine this a bit more.

Firstly the employer must ensure that a proper investigation takes place in order to ensure that there are grounds for dismissal.  Whether or not this is a formal enquiry at this point does not make any kind of difference as this is just the preliminary investigation.

Once it is ascertained that there are sufficient grounds, the employee must be notified in writing, that there are allegations and what these allegations are.  Remember to use language that the employee will understand – so in essence – keep it as simple as possible.

The employee should then be allowed to respond and state their case or give circumstances etc around why they did whatever it is that they have been accused of doing.  They have to be given the opportunity to answer to the charges or allegations made and give their own explanation.  This is usually when the disciplinary hearing would take place.

The employee also needs to be given a reasonable amount of time in which to formulate a response to the allegation(s) or charges that has been levied against them.

The employee is also entitled to request and receive any assistance that they may require from a trade union representative or fellow employee and may even ask for assistance from the HR department if they are not sure of the process or how to proceed.

After the inquiry has been held, the employer must advise the employee of whatever the decision is that has been made.  This advice or notification must be made in writing and a copy retained in the employees records.

Any disciplinary that is taken against trade union representatives or any employee that holds any kind of office bearing position or any official of a trade union, should not be taken without first notifying the trade union.  The trade union should then be consulted before any action is taken against that particular staff member.

If the decision is taken to dismiss an employee, the employee has to be notified in writing that they are being dismissed and of course the reason for the dismissal.  At this point the employee has to be reminded of their rights in terms of the appeal hearings and their right to refer the matter to a council with jurisdiction or even to the CCMA for mediation or to any other dispute resolution, in terms of the employers laid down, or previously negotiated and accepted policies and procedures, or any other policies and procedures that have been established and agreed to by means of a collective agreement.

There are obviously exceptional circumstances where the employer cannot reasonably be expected to follow these guidelines and in these instances the employer would then document the reason why these guidelines could not be followed and copies of this documentation must then be retained and filed in the employee’s personnel file for future reference.

It is a legal requirement for employers to keep and maintain records for each employee.  All transgressions, whether they resulted in a disciplinary hearing or not, should be recorded in the file together with any hearings that may have taken place.  Actions taken against the employee by the employer must also be recorded and maintained as well as the reason that these actions were taken.

Next week we will look at Dismissals and Industrial Action.

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


Thursday, August 10, 2017

Sales 101 - Boosting the Sale and Soft Selling

I don’t know about you guys, but I am a real fan of the South African Lotto (AKA the lottery).  Granted most of us win far less than we pay to play, but for me, as long as it is fun and not an addiction – where’s the problem?

I used to grab a couple of ‘quick picks’ each week leaving the thrill of the win up to the Universe as the machine picks the numbers that you end up playing, on a random basis.  I was fairly successful and used to feel the same sense of elation and well being, whether I won R7.00 (my smallest and most frequent win) to a few thousand Rand (my largest win), and since each ticket was R2.50 the R20.00 or so I spent a week was really not a train smash at all.

Then they upped the cost to R3.50 a ticket and now they have introduced another component called “Power Ball”.

Powerball forced you to choose your own numbers and that has changed the whole ‘feel’ of the experience because now I have to choose the numbers which means that I am also looking at statistics to see which numbers come up more than others and ‘my win’ is no longer left entirely up to chance.  The draw is also done on two entirely different days to the normal lotto draws. This has also changed with time though and now the machine can also choose these numbers for me.

Thing is though that whilst I was quite happy to accept the R1.00 increase, I doubt very much that I would have been enamored with, say a R2.50 or R3.00 increase.

The R1.00 increase, together with the introduction of the “Power Ball” game gives the perception that I am getting more value for my money.

But what if the lotto ticket was, say R100.00 a ticket?  Would I be willing to spend that amount of money twice a week?  I doubt it very much – in fact knowing the kind of person that I am – I probably would not play anymore at all.

So what does this all tell me?  Well, generally speaking it evidences that the more the item costs the more reluctant people are to spend the money in the first place.  Put that together with the risk involved and people become even more reluctant to spend the money.

In the grand scheme of things, there are a relatively small number of individuals who are willing to take financial risks.

So therefore to make the ‘sale’ more attractive, it is in your own best interests to ensure that the perception is that the risk is kept to a minimum.

That’s why referrals work so well.  You see, because the product or service arrives tried, tested and trusted, the perception is that there is very little risk.

So for me, the biggest and easiest way to reduce risk is by being recommended by an existing client or contact.

It’s the easiest way to increase my database and the easiest way to boost my sales and most definitely the easiest way for me to get new business.

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, August 08, 2017

Business Tips - Managing Your Business - Part 2

BUSINESS TIPS – Managing Your Business – Part 2

By Nikki Viljoen – Viljoen Consulting CC – December 2010
Last week we had a look at some of the issues around Finance and today we continue with Margins.
As usual, let’s have a look at exactly what a “margin” is.  The Wiki says :
“Profit margin, net margin, net profit margin or net profit ratio all refer to a measure of profitability. It is calculated by finding the net profit as a percentage of the revenue.

The profit margin is mostly used for internal comparison. It is difficult to accurately compare the net profit ratio for different entities. Individual businesses' operating and financing arrangements vary so much that different entities are bound to have different levels of expenditure, so that comparison of one with another can have little meaning. A low profit margin indicates a low margin of safety: higher risk that a decline in sales will erase profits and result in a net loss.
Profit margin is an indicator of a company's pricing strategies and how well it controls costs. Differences in competitive strategy and product mix cause the profit margin to vary among different companies.”
The easiest way for me to remember it is that the margin is the difference (financially) between what everything cost (not only materials, but also time and expenses [for me as a service type business] and research, printing, paper, ink etc.) and what I charge.  If your margins are too low, you will never make a profit and on the other hand if you set your margins too high, you run the risk of never making a sale – it’s a delicately balanced scenario!
Essentially there are two ways to increase your margins (profit margins) and those are either to cut costs or cut prices.  In order to know which one to do it is obviously essential that you focus on your margins on a regular basis and also on what the current economic trends are as it is not always a good thing to cut prices, although it is always a good thing to cut costs, as long as that ‘cost’ does not interfere with the quality of your product or service.
Sometimes increasing the price of your services or your product has a powerful statement attached to it – it says “I’m worth it” or “the product is worth it”.  I know that when I started out, I had nothing to compare my services to and the result is that I used my corporate ‘salary’ as a gauge to set my hourly rates – wow, was that ever a big mistake.  I priced myself far too low and the result is that I attracted many clients, all of who desperately needed by expertise, but all of who could not afford me!  Within 24 months I had doubled my hourly rate and I was attracting clients who not only needed me, but who could also afford me.
In this particular instance, me raising my charges had an incredibly powerful effect – it said ‘this is what I am worth’ and the psychological effect on me, as an individual, was incredible. Before, even though my prices were very low, I was chasing business by giving discounts, hoping to retain the very clients that could not afford my services in the first place – that was a very costly mistake – I wrote off a lot of money to bad debt.
Nowadays, if I am going to give a discount – it is because there is a huge value to me and it is based on a whole different set of criteria, such as (but not limited to) early or timeous payment, no of hours on retainer etc.
Cutting costs is definitely the best way to increase your margins and thereby increase your profits.  This is not always an easy thing to do particularly in tough times, when you are looking at staff and salaries.  You have to divorce yourself from the emotions and look at the cold hard facts.  Can you do without this particular function being performed by a single person, in other words “Don’t make it about a person or personal”, but rather about what’s good for the Company.  If you have two people doing work that can be done by one person, then it stands to reason that you only need to employ one person – don’t get sucked into the emotional side of things.
Keeping your costs to a minimum and your clients to a maximum is therefore the best way to ensure that your margin remains on track and is the best way to meet and even surpass your budget requirements.

Next time we will have a look at your customers.

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, August 07, 2017

Motivation - The Basics to Succeed

MOTIVATION – The Basics To Succeed

By Nikki Viljoen of N Viljoen Consulting CC- June

I am often asked “what is the recipe for success?”  Well at the risk of upsetting a huge bunch of the population, let me say this – success for each person means different things.  So how you as an individual would then achieve that success would also then vary from individual to individual.

In my opinion through there are certain elements that are necessary, irrespective of what your idea of success may be.

These are (but not limited to) having the right attitude.  Your attitude must reflect who you are as an individual.  So if you feel that you are lost and on a ‘road to nowhere’ that is exactly what will be reflected in your attitude.  Clearly the best attitude to have is a “Winning Attitude”.  If you think of yourself as a winner, as someone who can do what is required or necessary, then this will be reflected in the way that you conduct your business.

Don’t get me wrong – you still have to have fun with what you are doing, otherwise – what’s the point?

But getting things done, efficiently and effectively and treating people in an open minded manner will show that although you mean business you are still open to the point of view of others.  It’s all in your attitude.

Common sense, although in very short supply, in my opinion also counts for a great deal in having the right attitude as does those who are willing to go the extra mile.

So have a good look at your attitude, the way it is rather than the way you think it is.  Be honest with yourself and if you feel that you need an attitude adjustment  - there is no time like the present!

What about belief? Do you believe in yourself?  Do you believe that you can be a leader or that you can be true to yourself and that you can make a difference in the lives of others?  You see, if you cannot believe in yourself – how is it possible that you think that others would believe in you.

Stands to reason don’t you think?

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, August 04, 2017

HR 101 - What to do When . . . You Want to Dismiss Staff - Part 4

HR 101 - WHAT TO DO WHEN . . . . You Want To Dismiss Staff? Part 4

By Nikki Viljoen – N Viljoen Consulting CC.

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

So here we have George, who has now attended his disciplinary hearing for a) stealing stock and b) hitting Simon.  Now what?

Well, generally speaking it would not be the right thing to do, to dismiss an employee for a first offence.  Obviously there are always exceptions, depending on the severity of the offence!

Some of the examples of serious misconduct are, but not limited to, and it should be noted that each case has to be judged on its own merits;
gross dishonesty
willful damage to the property of the employer
willful endangering of the safety of others
physical assault on the employer
physical assault on a fellow employee
physical assault on a client and/or customer
gross insubordination.

If the case does not meet the requirements of section 188, which states

(1) A dismissal that is not automatically unfair, is unfair if the
employer fails to prove-
(a) that the reason for dismissal is a fair reason-
(i) related to the employee's conduct or capacity; or
(ii) based on the employer's operational requirements; and
(b) that the dismissal was effected in accordance with a fair
procedure.
(2) Any person considering whether or not the reason for dismissal is a
fair reason or whether or not the dismissal was effected in accordance
with a fair procedure must take into account any relevant code of good
practice issued in terms of this Act.51

then the dismissal will not be fair.

When the chairperson was deliberating on whether or not to impose the penalty of dismissal on George, not only should he take into consideration the gravity of the misconduct but he also has to take into account other factors such as, but not limited to:
length of service
previous disciplinary record
personal circumstances
the nature of the job
the circumstances of the infringement itself.

The chairperson also has to take into account what the penalty was for any previous case, in which the circumstances were the same.  You see all employees have to be treated in the same manner – so if there was a previous case such as this, the penalty has to be the same as this.

Next week we will have a look at what a “Fair Procedure” would be.

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


Thursday, August 03, 2017

Sales 101 - Taking the Pain for Gain

SALES 101 – Taking the Pain For Gain

By Nikki Viljoen – Viljoen Consulting CC  September 2009.

One of my biggest challenges, when I am selling, is getting people to think proactively.  It’s a real problem I can tell you.  Most people, especially those who are small business owners or entrepreneurs are so busy guarding every cent, that they very seldom see the woods for the trees.  Quite frankly, therein lies most of the problem – that and the fact that they usually treat their staff like members of their families.

These are the very people who should be buying my policies and procedures to be implemented to cut down the risk of fraud or theft.  I am often saddened when I see their pain and total lack of understanding of what has just happened to them.  You see, they don’t expect the worst and they are therefore often totally unprepared for what comes their way.

The result is of course, that I usually am only called in when there is problem.  When theft has already occurred, I get called in to do the disciplinary, or do the audit on the stock to ascertain exactly how much stock or money has gone missing and then implement policies and procedures to ensure that it doesn’t happen again.  Talk about closing the stable door once the horse has immigrated! My problem of course is that when the smelly brown stuff hits the fan, I am then expected to sort the whole problem out and I am supposed to do that immediately!  Suddenly when the client feels the pain, they want something done about it, but until they feel that pain they have no concept of pain.  It’s the same as realizing you have completely run out of toilet paper when you’re already seated on the pot!

Sometimes, it is really difficult for me to understand why people don’t want to listen or refuse to understand that failure to implement procedures and controls, will in all probability end up in pain especially when these people plan everything else so meticulously in their lives.  The have worked out to 3 decimal points exactly how much it costs them to print a page but they don’t have, say a supplier procurement policy in place that could save them thousands of rand in VAT claims or staff members don’t have to sign an attendance register and they end up at the CCMA having to pay out thousands of rand to a disgruntled employee whose perception it is that they are hard done by.

Yep, sometimes people just have to feel the pain before they believe that the experience could be a painful one.

I really have to start thinking of myself as a ‘pain hunter’.  I have to ensure that my prospects understand just how painful it can become if they do not have proper policies and procedures in place, then I have to convince them that I can take that pain way, irrespective of whether that pain is perceived or real – I am the one who will take the pain away.  I have to make them really grateful that they have me there to take the pain away.  I have to pay special attention to understanding all the different aspects of the client’s situation, to their fears, perceived or otherwise.  I have to understand just what will take to make them react in a proactive way and thereby save them a whole lot of unnecessary pain (and then of course the additional expense that goes with that).

But you know what, perhaps I should just leave them to experience the pain that I know is going to come – I get more money that way!  Perhaps I am just that little bit tired of explaining things to people who clearly don’t want to listen or take actions because “well, it won’t/can’t/shouldn’t happen” to them. Perhaps that is why I have two prices – a ‘proactive’ price for putting things into place when I suggest them and then of course my ‘reactive’ price when I have to run around like a mad person to fix up and sort out the mess when it happens.

Yep, perhaps I should just sit back and wait for the smelly brown stuff to hit the fan, splatter and splash all over the place, then arrive with my sunny smile and pleasant disposition and sort it all out for them and then sit back and watch my bank balance grow.

I think I know what I am going to do . . . . as a small business owner or entrepreneur, do you know what you are going to do?

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, August 02, 2017

Networking 101 - Introverts & Extroverts

NETWORKING 101 - Introverts & Extroverts

By Nikki Viljoen of N Viljoen Consulting CC

I was discussing Networking with one of my colleagues the other day when he turned around to me and said, in all honesty “I’m not a natural networker because I am an introvert!”  I stood there with my mouth hanging open . . .  for several seconds.  You see, I am a natural networker and I am also an introvert!  Ok everybody, you can get up off the floor now and stop laughing!  I am an introvert!  Ask my shrink!

It’s not that I am shy around people or afraid to be in public.  Those of you who know me can attest to that.  I not too good at small talk though, I much prefer to get into debates on issues that are important to me or not . . . Being with people on a constant basis often leaves me completely drained of all energy and I spend most weekends, on my own, relishing in the ‘space’ that I have on my own without any other people around me.

I am not ‘naturally’ good with people and although I have been told that I am a ‘people’s person’, I don’t feel that way at all.  Mixing with people and interacting with them is a conscious thing for me and it is something that I have to work at – hard.

Why do I work hard at it?  Well that’s quite simple – you see I understand the value of networking.  I don’t see networking as a waste of time or a pain in the butt (although generally speaking, for introverts it is exactly that).

Networking for me, is me investing in myself and my company.  You see, by developing my network in the way that I have, when I need a particular product or a particular service, I don’t have to spend hours doing research on the internet, or paging through the yellow pages, or time and money sending out endless e-mails looking for help. It takes me one or two phone calls to find the exact person that I am looking for.  In fact, if the truth be told, most of my colleagues phone me when they need anything because I usually have that particular contact within my data base.

For me that is a triple win situation.  You see not only do I add value to the person who is looking for someone/something, I also add value to the person in my database who is that someone or who can provide that service, but in connecting these two, I have added huge value to myself – both will feel indebted to me and payback is always very sweet!

There’s a great deal more to Networking as an introvert, so 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

Tuesday, August 01, 2017

Business Tips - Managing Your Business - Part 1

BUSINESS TIPS – Managing Your Business – Part 1

By Nikki Viljoen – Viljoen Consulting CC

Most will agree that the light at the end of the tunnel is no longer an oncoming train and whilst the 2008 recession (such as it was) is now officially over, it will take the economy (read SMME’s) some time to rally, make a come-back and hopefully deposit us right back to where we were – obviously not in terms of what caused the melt down in the first place, but certainly in terms of running productive, successful businesses.

I know that I really had to ‘grit’ my teeth and bear it for a few months – you know what I mean – the uncertainty of money coming in or getting work in or making the sale and so on.

Fact of the matter is , that when you are in the dwang – that’s exactly where you are and sometimes it is just a matter of waiting it out.  There are a number of tips though, that will help and guide you through, should you find yourself in difficult and/or trying times.  Actually it is not a bad thing to get yourself in the habit of doing these all the time – bad or good times.

Finance
For me, if you have lost control of your finances, then you have lost control of your business.  I think that most people, when they think of business finances, what they think about are the books and whilst I agree with that on some level, I also want to make it very clear that the books are ‘reactive’. By that I mean that they are ‘in the past’ – what is contained in your books has already happened.  Cash flow, on the other hand, governs what is happening right now.

Think about it for a moment – it doesn’t matter how many people owe you money, or who have promised to pay you – the bottom line is that when you look at your bank account, it is about what is actually there (less what needs to be paid out) that actually counts.  So it stands to reason that the cash flow needs to be properly managed and should be discussed at every management meeting.  If, like me, you are on your own, it is a good idea to make time (at least weekly) to check up and see what is going on.

Make sure that the Management Accounts are monitored on a regular basis and that they are consistently checked for issues such as the key ratios, this will assist in enabling you to identify trends earlier, when you can still do something about them, rather than later, when you are already in the smelly brown stuff.  Updating your cash flow forecasts on a regular basis will also assist in ensuring that you are ahead of the game – remember to watch the sensitive bits – issues like a change in the exchange rate or a price hike in fuel could have a huge effect on your margins.

Next time we will have a closer look at margins.


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 31, 2017

Motivation - The Doer

MOTIVATION – The Doer

By Nikki Viljoen of N Viljoen Consulting CC

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Busienss Tips - Social Media - What Gives?

BUSINESS TIPS – Social Media – What Gives?

By Nikki Viljoen – Viljoen Consulting CC

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, July 10, 2017

Motivation - The Mind

MOTIVATION - THE MIND

By Nikki Viljoen of Viljoen Consulting

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, July 07, 2017

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

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

By Nikki Viljoen – N Viljoen Consulting CC.

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

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

This particular incident is going to be one of Misconduct.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

George has quite a history!

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

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

George’s situation, at best is precarious.

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

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


Thursday, July 06, 2017

Sales 101 - Timing is Key

SALES – Timing is Key

By Nikki Viljoen – Viljoen Consulting CC

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

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

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

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

It’s just a matter of time.

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

Wednesday, July 05, 2017

Networking 101 - Networking with Purpose

Networking 101 - Networking with Purpose

By Nikki Viljoen of N Viljoen Consulting CC

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, July 04, 2017

Business Tips - Be Careful What You Click On

BUSINESS TIPS – Be Careful What You Click On

By Nikki Viljoen – Viljoen Consulting CC

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Be careful where you click people!

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

Monday, July 03, 2017

Motivation - The Opportunity to Begin Again

MOTIVATION –  The Opportunity To Begin Again

By Nikki Viljoen of N Viljoen Consulting CC

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, June 30, 2017

HR 101 - What to do when . . . You Want to Dismiss Staff - Part 2

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

Part 2

By Nikki Viljoen – N Viljoen Consulting CC.

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

So here we are again – let’s look at what is considered an ‘unfair’ dismissal.

·                    any dismissal that is not done for a fair reason (like you just don’t like the person) is considered ‘unfair’.
·                    any dismissal that takes place without the proper and fair procedure, irrespective of whether  it is in accordance with any notice period in a contract of employment or in legislation governing employment.  So this means that you cannot just come to work one day and decide that George has to go, because he is irritating the hell out of you, so you give him a month’s notice as per his Letter of Appointment and in compliance with legislation – I mean you did give him a month’s notice so what is the problem?  Right?  Wrong!

Each time you dismiss someone, please understand in order for you to ascertain whether it is fair or not is always determined by the facts of the case and whether dismissal is appropriate or not as a penalty. 

I would also like to add in here that it is also determined by precedents that have been set in previous cases.  Let me explain.  If two years ago one of your employees (let’s call him Philip) was caught stealing say R100.00 out of the till and Philip managed to convince everyone at his disciplinary, that he had ‘borrowed’ the money for taxi fare and that he intended to pay it back the following day and you gave him a ‘Final Written Warning’ in consequence of his actions and now George is caught stealing say R100.00 out of the till and George now also says that he ‘borrowed’ the money for taxi fare and that he intended to pay the money back the next day, but you are fed up with George because his attitude is bad, so you dismiss him – this would be construed as ‘unfair’ dismissal because you did not dismiss Philip for the same offense, two years ago.  So be careful when dishing out punishments for first time offences – they may just come back and bite you on the rear end in the future!

You still have to follow the correct procedure and whether the procedure is fair or not is determined by, but not limited to, the following guidelines.

There are three grounds, by which ‘dismissal’ is considered fair and legitimate, by the Act.

These are:
·                    the conduct of the employee (which is why it is of critical importance to have a documented ‘Code of Conduct’ for your Company)
·                    the capacity of the employee and
·                    the operational requirements of the employer’s business.

The Act says that a dismissal is automatically unfair if the reason for the dismissal is:
·                    anything that is an infringement of the basic rights of employees and/or trade unions or
·                    if the reason is one of those that is listed in section 187.

These reasons include, but are not limited to:
·                    if the employee participates in a lawful strike
·                    if the employee intends to become or is pregnant
·                    any acts of discrimination against the employee.

Where the dismissal is not automatically unfair, the employer has to show that the reason for the dismissal is because the employee’s conduct was in question or that the employee’s capacity was in question or it is based on the employee’s failure to meet the operational requirements of the employer’s business. 

If you, as the employer cannot show this or if you cannot prove that the dismissal was performed within the parameters of fair procedure, then the dismissal will be deemed as unfair.

In essence you have to make very sure that you have all your ducks in a row and that you can substantiate and prove anything that needs to be proved in this respect.

Next week we will look at the Disciplinary Procedures prior to dismissal.

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



Thursday, June 29, 2017

Sales 101 - Time Wasters & Ideal Clients

SALES 101 - Time Wasters and Ideal Clients

By Nikki Viljoen – Viljoen Consulting CC  September 2009.

Boy oh boy, did I learn the hard way about time wasters!  Look we all get enthusiastic about meeting someone who clearly understands what it is that we are trying to sell them (be it widget or service), and I am sure that we also understand about the building of relationships and how that can also take time, that said I am sure we have also come across time wasters.  You know them, they are the people who love to have meetings, they love to set up meetings and you have to juggle all of your appointments to fit them in and then at the last minute, when you are on your way to meeting them (if you’re very lucky), they contact you and cancel.  Or if they actually make the meeting, it’s more of a social discussion than anything to do with work and then suddenly they have to dash off somewhere and they schedule another meeting with you and it has to be on a specific date and time that is good for them and you have to move all your appointments to accommodate them and then the same thing happens and so it continues and months down the line you find that they are not authorized to make the decision or as much as they want or need ordesire to have what it is that they are selling, they just don’t have the money right now because they have a cash flow problem that they don’t think will sort itself out in the foreseeable future – yes time wasters, I sure have had a few of them!

So how do you tell the difference between the typical time waster and an ideal client?

From what I understand this is the eighty five million dollar question.

On the other side of the spectrum, an ideal client is one that understands exactly what you are wanting to sell (be it widget or service), they understand how whatever it is that you are wanting to sell will benefit them, they have the means to pay for said service or widget and they want it now! They are professional people who are also busy and don’t want their time wasted and have no desire to waste yours either.

Quite frankly, it is extremely difficult to tell the one apart from the other and let’s be honest, how do you know if you are wasting your time or letting the opportunity of a life time slip through your fingers?

Perhaps we should be looking at it in a different way.  If you had a huge number of leads, which ones would you go after and which ones would you let go?  How do you tell of the lead is a good one or not.

I know that I for one, more often than not leaves it more up to chance.  If I get a card, then that for me is a lead, if I can’t get hold of the person (after several tries), well I put it aside for another time.  When someone physically gives me a lead, I will try and call – if I cannot get hold of them (after several tries), I advise the person who gave me the lead and I put it aside for another time.

Is that the right way to handle it – I have absolutely no idea.  What I do know though, is that while I am wasting time trying to get hold of and leaving countless messages for, people who don’t come back to me (even though I know that they need my assistance), there are others who also need my assistance who do come back to me and those are the people that I will work with in the first instance.  If I have time afterwards and I can get hold of the others at some point, then yes  - I will assist them, of course I will, but it will be done in my time.

If I find myself going backwards and forwards to the same clients who continually have nothing to say, the I make polite goodbyes and ask them to call me when they need me – I do follow up with them from time to time, but for the most part – I move on.

My time is very precious and quite frankly, I can waste it all by myself, I don’t need help from anyone else.

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, June 28, 2017

Networking 101 - Being a Connector

Networking 101 – Being a Connector

By Nikki Viljoen of N Viljoen Consulting CC

For the most part, networking for different people means different things.  For some it is about building relationships with a view to doing business in the future. For others it about selling their product or services – quickly.  Some on the other hand, use networking to be able to ‘buy’ whatever product or services that they need in order for their businesses to run smoothly and for a very select few it is about being a “Connector”.

Part of me being a ‘natural networker’ is that I am a ‘Connector’.  Connectors are people who do not only attend networking meetings to build relationships, to sell their products, to buy another product or even to have a few drinks or a coffee with someone, they like to match people up.  They like to introduce people to one another.

Thursday is my networking meeting day.  It is the day that I sit, from around 9.00am to around 4pm at ‘my office’ at the VovoTelo in Cresta (where I get excellent service I may add from the guys there, thanks guys) and I meet with people all day long.  These are the people that I have met briefly at a networking event, be it at the Inner Circle, or Business Engage, a Business Masters gathering, Rachel’s Conversations that Matter or indeed, even someone that I have met on Facebook.  I allocate an hour for each person – some take longer, some don’t need the whole hour and strangely enough, some don’t even pitch at all!

I listen to their stories, and am often amused by the fact that many arrive at the meeting and they have no clue as to why they are there!  All they know is that I have phoned them up, booked an appointment to see them (sometimes as much as 3 months in advance), confirmed the appointment the day before it has to take place, and now they are here!  To them I say – Well Done!

I digress - so I listen to their stories, try and understand what it is that they do in their business, who they need to ‘connect’ with and why.  As they talk I make notes and ask questions in order to understand something in a few minutes, that they have sometimes built up over months and years.  As I make notes and ask the questions about ‘target markets’ and the like, my mind wonders through my data base and the kind of people that they should be connecting with.  I start off by industry and then work on the individual in that industry.

For example, if I am talking to someone in the printing industry (yes I know we all need business cards, but there is just so much more to printing), my natural reaction would be to put them in touch with all the Training people (training manuals, course material – presentations and the like), all the Event Marketing people (banners, corporate gifts and the like), Team Building people (course material, manuals, banners), Advertising and Marketing people (corporate gifts, brochures etc) and of course the Corporate Gift people ( pens, t-shirts and the rest of the paraphernalia, that goes with that).  Sure, if I hear of someone who needs to have their Business Cards printed I will send them along to you too!

Whilst ‘listening’ to your story and asking the questions that I ask, I may also understand that you may have a problem somewhere in your business.  You may be experiencing difficulty with your financials and may be looking to outsource you Bookkeeping functions or you may be needing someone to help you with your frustrating IT problems, or you maybe battling to get the right staff – whatever that problem is, I have no doubt, that somewhere in my database there will be someone who I can refer to you to be of assistance to you.  Even if they are not in my direct data base, I can go to Business Masters, Inner Circle, Business Engage, Every Woman and ask for assistance.  Somewhere, someone knows somebody who knows somebody else, who knows or who can refer me to someone who knows who you need to help you with whatever problem it is that you have.

Hence the saying “There are no problems, just opportunities!”  Your problem is someone else’s opportunity!

When I am connecting people (and believe me when I say it isn’t just at my Thursday meeting that this happens), I am in my element – this is the world that I love.  Why you may ask, well it’s because I can add value to the people in my data base (or network) by moving them from one contact to another.  In this way the networks of all the different contacts ‘cross pollinate’ so to speak and in so doing I add value to myself and also grow my Network.

You see my networking isn’t just a matter of you ‘helping me right now’ or of you ‘selling me something right now’, it’s about finding synergies, from the people that I have known for years and the new people that I am meeting right now.  It’s about bringing the ‘old’ and the ‘new’ together so that they can do business together.

It’s about building credible relationships, not only between myself and the new people that I meet, but also between the new people that I meet and the people that I have known for years.

So what does networking mean to you?

Nikki is an Internal Auditor and Business Administration specialist who can be contacted on nikki@viljoenconsulting.co.za.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Business Tips - Preoccupations

BUSINESS TIPS – Preoccupations

By Nikki Viljoen – Viljoen Consulting CC

Dr Renate Volpe, in her Leadership Insight Nuggets says “The “new age” leader appreciates that preoccupation with living issues, affects our ability to perform at optimal potential”.

My obvious question (well to me it’s obvious) is – how could it not affect our ability to perform at optimal potential?

In my youth, I can clearly remember often being told (or hearing it being told to others), ‘don’t bring your problems to work!’  Whilst I do understand that we are employed or alternatively, we employ people to perform a specific task or function, the reality is that we are human beings.  As human beings we have feelings and emotions and we are not programmed like a ‘light switch’ to be turned on and off.  Quite frankly that’s like ripping the wings off an aircraft and expecting it to fly!

That said, there are often those employees that always seem to have something wrong.  If it’s not one thing then it’s another. They seem to live their lives in some form of disaster area, and the constant emotion that this generates as they go from person to person looking for sympathy and attention can be very trying as well as exhausting.

So where and how do you draw the line?  Realistically, as an employer you do need to have your productivity and the quality of your product or service, maintained.  You do have to ensure that the work gets done, because if you don’t, you will lose clients and losing clients will put your business, your staff and you at risk.  It really is a fine line and different things work for different people.

Although I don’t really do the ‘emotional’ thing very often, when it comes to staff – I am aware that different people handle different things in different ways.  Some people withdraw, some people act out – the bottom line is that as the employer, you have to know and understand your employee and then you have to deal with each employee based on who they are and how they react to any given situation.

Obviously that does not mean that you have to allow yourself to be abused by your employee and no, showing your ‘soft side’ does not make you a softie, but you do need to be able to show empathy and support.

How you do that of course, is up to you.

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, June 26, 2017

Motivation - Stuff Happens, Deal with it!

MOTIVATION –  Stuff Happens – Deal With It.

By Nikki Viljoen of N Viljoen Consulting CC

Today’s quote comes from Aldous Huxley who says “Experience is not what happens to a man, it what a man does with what happens to him.”

Profound words I am sure you will agree and certainly ones that made me dig deep . . . really deep.

You see, of late, I have been really struggling with ‘my life’s purpose’.  For a while now, everything has been a mission – getting new clients, getting paid, getting people to my workshops, even getting the work done (its that time of the year when I battle with sinus and coughs and sore chest and this year I added ear ach to the mix as well).

To make current matters worse (although in many ways it is also very exciting too), I have also been working on four different long term projects, that will certainly pay handsome dividends  . . . .  down the line, but at this point bring nothing in and cost a fortune in terms of time and energy.

Technology challenges with my website being hacked into, servers going down and a general disruption of my life has left me feeling more than a little cut off and a tad isolated.

“So what’s this all about?” I started to wonder “Why am I here and is it worth all of this effort?”  Isn’t it strange how at the first hint of things not going the way that we want them to, that this is generally the first thing that we think?  Well I do!

This for me is where today’s quote and what it means, is so important.  Sure there are a number of options open to me.  Some are as simple as closing up shop and getting myself a job (not really an option I must say, as it would kill my spirit and make me even more grumpy than I usually am), some as scary and as deep as  . . .  ok, I’m not going there and a whole host more in-between.   Being a logical person though, I did have to look at ALL of my options, unemotionally and fairly and then made a decision.

I had to make a decision on the ‘what and how’ I felt and the ‘where’ of my life, based on what I felt as opposed to being guided through the whole process by my mentor, it was time to stand on my own two feet.  It was damn scary I can tell you!

Let’s just say that I had to think about things that I didn’t want to think about and go to places inside myself that I haven’t been to for a long time and that I would prefer not to have to visit again.  We all have a ‘dark side, so I know that you know what I am talking about.

So I hear you asking – ‘what will you do?’

Well I am feeling a lot better and I am sure that has a lot to do with as I find being sick very exhausting.  A whole bunch of ‘new’ opportunities have presented themselves and the ‘old’ opportunities  seem to have taken on a new life of their own.  I have completed as much as I can on some of the long term projects and now await the outcome, which I know is out of my hands and in the hands of the “Gods” (whomever you perceive them to be).

I look around me and have a deep sense of something about to happen, like the electricity in the air just before one of our infamous Highveld storms.

I know that whatever is going to happen, will happen whether I worry about it or not and it will happen when it should and not a moment before.

I know that I have a purpose and that I am going in the right direction, but that there are times when I am too impatient for my own good and I try and push to make things happen faster, when in fact I should be resting, so as to be ready, willing and able, when they do happen.

I know that often I am the biggest ‘doubting Thomas’ in my own life, when I doubt my ability and my capability and then I am always gobsmacked when people tell me of the impact that I have had in their lives, and then I do a 180 degree turn around and become humbled by who I am and what I have achieved and how much more there is for me to achieve.

And then I see words like “experience is not what happens to a man, it is what man does with what happens to him”, and I know that I am fine and I know that ‘ all is well’ with my world.

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