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Managing Staff

How To Make Your Board Meetings More Effective

Developing guidelines on how to present board packs is a key element of good corporate governance, and it is very important for those guidelines be communicated to staff who prepare board packs.

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Board meetings are a requirement of the Companies Act 71 of 2008 (the “Act”), as envisaged in section 73 of the Act. Section 73(1)(a) and (b) of the Act reads as follows:

73(1) A director authorised by the board of the company:

  1. may call a meeting of the board at any time; and
  2. must call such meeting if required to do so by at least-
  3. 25% of the directors, in the case of a board that has at 12 members; or
  4. two directors, in any other case.

For your board meeting to be effectively and efficiently conducted, a number of elements need to be in place, not least of which is the preparation and circulation of board packs. The board packs provide the directors with the relevant information needed to place them in a position where they could apply their mind properly to the matters at hand in order to discharge their statutory and fiduciary duties.

This article will focus on the preparation of board packs as a necessary part of the preparation for a board meeting.

Related: Meetovation: The New Approach To Meetings

The level of detail to include in your board packs

The documents for inclusion in board packs should be as clear and informative as possible, indicating the purpose of each document, and simultaneously ensuring that the directors are properly informed about the matter. Sufficient information is required to allow the board to undertake its deliberations.

The level of detail required should be counterbalanced against the risk of providing too much information. This should be considered carefully as providing too much information could result in important information becoming shrouded in irrelevant details which could create confusion on the part of the recipient of the board pack.

The key question to ask is: what is the relevant information the board requires to make an informed decision?

Guidelines for your board packs

Developing guidelines on how to present board packs is a key element of good corporate governance, and it is very important for those guidelines be communicated to staff who prepare board packs.

The guidelines should ensure that board documents:

  • Use clear and “easy to understand” language
  • Are consistent in terms of format and layout usage
  • Clarify upfront whether a matter is for noting, discussion or for decision
  • Contain a clear recommendation, and the exact wording of the proposed resolution, if directors are asked to consider and pass a resolution
  • Contain sufficient information to provide for an informed decision by the directors

Submitting your board packs

It is common practice to circulate the board packs to the board with sufficient time in advance of any meeting to ensure there is ample time for them to familiarise themselves with the contents. Ideally, board packs should be circulated to the directors at least 7 (seven) days before the meeting.

Establishing a board meeting year planner at the beginning of the year is another essential element of good corporate governance. This will effectively guide the board in providing for regular agenda items to be discussed at all meetings, or at particular meetings.

It is suggested that a process of submitting the board packs to the board should be established. Despite the implementation of the process to ensure board packs are circulated prior to the meeting, documents may from time to time need to be tabled, and it is important that directors have sufficient opportunity to read and consider tabled documents.

Tabled documents can be problematic for directors who are not attending the meetings in person. If these directors can’t be provided with a copy of the tabled document electronically, then the document should – if practical – be read aloud to them. If neither is possible, then the director concerned should be given the opportunity to abstain from voting on any decision related to the tabled document and the minutes of the meeting should record their abstention and the reason for the same.

Related: 10 Entrepreneurs Share Fail-Safe Strategies For More Effective Meetings

The length of time to keep your board packs for

Board packs should be retained in accordance with section 24 of the Act. Section 24(1)(a) and (b) of the Act read as follows:

24(1) Any documents, accounts, books, writing, records or other information that a company is required to keep in terms of this Act or any other public regulation must be kept:

  1. in a written form, or other form or manner that allows that information to be converted into written form within a reasonable time; and
  2. for a period of seven years, or any longer period of time specified in any other applicable public regulation, subject to subsection 2.

It is therefore important to ensure that:

  • Hard copies are maintained for each board meeting which includes a complete set of board pack and copies of all documents tabled at the meeting. Confidential documents subject to legal professional privilege or HR papers should be kept separately.
  • Electronic copies of the board pack and tabled documents should be kept whenever possible as this could be an alternative to a hard copy, should it be lost or misplaced.
  • When documents are tabled, the name of the author, that author’s title and the date of the document should be noted on the document itself.

Owen Chimkolenji is a qualified chartered Company Secretary (SA) and is currently employed at RSM South Africa in Cape Town. He holds an Advanced Certificate in Financial Management from UNISA and a Postgraduate Diploma in Corporate Law from University of Johannesburg. Owen has varied experience in the individual tax, accounting, secretarial and governance fields.

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Managing Staff

How To Avoid People Leaving Your Company

How can entrepreneurs ensure a better business model to limit the impact of high staff turnover in these environments?

Joel Stransky

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If your business requires a call centre or service centre environment the chances are that you will find yourself faced with a high staff turnover (attrition rate) versus other departments in your business.

The main reason is a generational issue as these environments are increasingly being staffed by members from the Generation Y cohort, also known as Millennials, with digital natives from Generation Z looming on the horizon.

How can entrepreneurs ensure a better business model to limit the impact of high staff turnover in these environments?

Related: 11 SA Entrepreneurs on What They’ve Learnt About Managing Staff

Understand why staff turnover is high

Firstly, technology innovation regularly introduces new skills and competencies that staff is required to learn, while also creating some degree of uncertainty with regard to what the future holds in terms of job security.

Secondly, the call centre or service centre environment is often considered a stepping stone to other career paths, and is seldom viewed as a long-term job prospect.

Thirdly, the perceived lack of career opportunities, coupled with other challenges such as low levels of stimulation; a tough sales-based environment, and hierarchical management structures1, all make the call centre a unique and complex environment where staff has a short lifespan.

Talent acquisition

As an entrepreneur, anticipating and proactively addressing talent issues requires a focused acquisition strategy. Finding ways to better predict performance alongside traditional methods of assessing candidates has become a top priority. And it is not only about whether new hires have the skill-set to perform in the role but also do they fit into your company culture.

Traditional assessments such as psychometric testing can deliver some insights about potential employees, but the reality is that these tests only accurately measure between 16 to 20% of key performance predictors.

Related: How To Keep Your Sales Staff Focused On The Future

In addition, the skills required in a modern multi-channel call centre are varied as staff need to engage via various mediums such as social media and email, not just over the phone.

Companies therefore need the ability to match core competencies/skills with the job role, while also ascertaining both written and verbal skill sets.

As such, it has become increasingly complex to assess which candidates will be a good fit for the call centre environment when relying on traditional assessments alone.

Understand your talent to manage staff turnover

Once hired, the ability to understand your employees and track their talent lifecycle can help to identify early warning signs of discontent and consideration of leaving, which is highly beneficial to your business.

There are technologies today which allow you to do just this. By understanding your employees better you can intervene to hopefully address their concerns and secure their continued service, or plan for the attrition to ensure a smoother transition by finding a replacement before they leave.

It is important to limit the financial impact that empty seats in a call centre can have on your bottom line as it limits the risk of sales targets not being met, and helps ensure that customer engagement and satisfaction goals are not compromised.

Related: How To Know If You’re Focusing On The Wrong Types Of Staff Skill Enhancement

Boost performance

By better understanding call centre employees, your managers will develop more robust strategies to boost both workforce performance and job satisfaction, which is of particular importance to Millennials.

By understanding employees better, career planning and progression can also become more focused by aligning skills or helping to identify weak areas that require improvement. This personal development will help employees feel like they are growing and advancing.

Today entrepreneurs have access to technology, specifically Artificial Intelligence (AI) that are being used to support a stronger talent acquisition and staff development business model.

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Managing Staff

These 4 Types Of ‘Nightmare Managers’ Are Scaring Employees Away

You don’t have to drive to the local cinemaplex to see “It,” to see monsters in action. Just check your workplace.

Andre Lavoie

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Things that go bump in the night, monsters hiding under the bed and terrifying clowns called “It”: These are the things nightmares are made of. But for some employees, the scariest part of their day isn’t a movie; it’s dealing with bad managers.

While no one sets out to be a bad manager, this scenario happens and all too often. In fact, one in two employees surveyed by Gallup in 2015 said they had left jobs to get away from a bad manager.

Since managers are the main sources for employee motivation, productivity, happiness and retention, one who’s a “nightmare”  can wreak more damage than just unhappy employees. Even with today’s technology and resources, managers continue to make major mistakes – and that can hurt the bottom line at the same time it costs companies quality employees.

The solution? Be aware of the habits that could make your managers a nightmare, and don’t get tangled in that web to begin with.

Related: Fighting Sleep Is A Losing Management Strategy. Let Your Employees Take Naps

Here are four examples of managers who haunt employees long after the workday has ended – and how to avoid becoming one:

1The poor “people” person

A manager who doesn’t interact well with people sounds like an oxymoron, but these individuals exist. When someone who doesn’t work well with others is in charge of a team, the entire company dynamic becomes derailed.

One of the biggest things that suffers is free-flowing communication. OfficeVibe’s August State of Employee Engagement report found that 31 percent of employees polled wished their manager communicated with them more frequently.

Unfortunately, however, a manager categorized as a “poor people person” may actually be uncomfortable communicating and dealing with critical employee situations.

For some managers, this type of bad management style will be easy to avoid. However, others will have to overcome their natural tendencies to stray away from social situations. This means that leaders have to assess personality types and understand which people skills that certain managers lack may need improving.

The best place to get information is from your current team members. Because they may feel they’re being put into an awkward situation, you might offer an anonymous survey. Ask how frequently your employees would like to speak with management and in what format, and whether they feel management is opening up and communicating with them on the level they need.

2The self-involved manager

Quality managers have a knack for motivating their entire team toward one end goal – the company’s mission. While this is accomplished by setting and pursuing personal and company goals, good team leaders know how to invoke passion from employees and help them succeed on every front.

The self-involved manager, on the other hand, has no awareness of anyone’s goals but his or her own. This is why the incidence of managers taking credit for their team’s hard work and not empowering employees happens all too frequently.

Self-involved managers may seem successful due to their ability to hit goals and make the numbers move, but that’s all they’re interested in.

For managers who want to improve, a good place to focus on is the greater good of the company. In this regard, managers need to know exactly where employees stand with their individual goals, the nature of their personal missions and where they picture the company moving to.

Ignoring this kind of detail about employees may make managers seem self-involved, and employees will quickly lose trust in their leadership.

Sit down for weekly meetings or create an online chat room where managers and employees can come together. Make this a safe place for all to share their personal goals or discuss where they hope to see the company in a few years. Offer advice, step-by-step guides or continuing education courses to help employees reach their greatest potential.

Related: To Have An Innovative Company, Let Your Employees Take The Reins

3The overly involved manager

This type of manager often wears a mask of popularity and is frequently involved in a small company or startup. “Overly involved” doesn’t simply refer to the micromanager who has to be in on every project, opinion and decision. Overly involved managers take things a step further and try to meddle in every aspect of their employees’ lives.

While it is important to care about team members as more than just employees, there is a fine line between being a caring manager and becoming a close friend. Going beyond that point can make employees uncomfortable and even make it difficult to manage them.

Employees, meanwhile, may appear to like this type of manager, but his or her inability to successfully lead and manage will eventually cause the team to feel stagnant.

Rather than focusing on getting employees to like them, managers should look at what boosts those employees’ productivity, motivation and passion. Knowing what makes them tick inside and outside of work will help bosses lead their teams to victory. Remember to keep things professional in order to maintain employees’ respect for management and the company.

4The indecisive manager

These managers are infamous for being hard to please. From their perspective, they’re simply putting the company’s best foot forward and perfecting employees’ projects and tasks. But being unpredictable makes for a scary workplace situation. Employees are left feeling uneasy, apt to second-guess themselves and overly critical of co-workers.

Related: What Are Your Employees Doing When You’re Not Looking?

Once indecisive managers become known for their lack of predictability, morale and creativity get thrown out the window. Employees need to feel safe in their working environment, especially with the person who is reviewing and assessing their final products.

So, loosen the reins a bit and have employees take control of their projects. When necessary, post guidelines in a shared drive, like Google Docs, to offer direction when employees need it, and don’t forget to always be available for questions.

It’s okay to make small changes to these guidelines, but don’t jump in and change them too frequently. Let team members know they can always expect a supportive and guiding hand from management when needed.

This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.

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Company Posts

Workplace Evolution 2.0: Are You Ready For The New Era?

Much of workplace change is driven by technological advances and ongoing evolution of workplaces and the workforce will continue to be the new norm for some time to come.

Wits Plus

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Multi-generation collaboration

Generations X and Y work together with Millennials and baby boomers, and Generation Z (born after 1998) is just starting to join the workforce. It’s a multi-generation mix that provides a collaborative ecosystem where innovation and problem-solving could thrive.

But how do companies ensure multi-generation collaboration across these multi-generations?

Related: 3 Ways Workplace Gamification Can Backfire – And How To Avoid Them

Automation of more tasks

Understanding the activities most susceptible to automation from a technical perspective could provide an excellent opportunity to rethink how workers engage with their jobs and how digital labour platforms can better connect individuals, teams, and projects.

The biggest challenges are the workforce and organisational changes that leaders will have to put in place when automation upends entire business processes, as well as the culture of their organisations.

Improving culture and workplace wellness

Companies are using wellness programmes to lower absenteeism, attract talent, and save on healthcare costs, while employees themselves become more health conscious. This type of investment in staff creates an environment where people want to work and where they feel valued.

Spaces and dress code promote culture

workplace-environment

Many workspaces (also known as ‘open plan’) have been designed for extroverts and their need for lots of stimulation. However, it is important to accommodate both introverts and extroverts in the workplace, so mobile and flexible workspaces are becoming the order of the day!

With the increased presence of younger generations, and more employees working remote, there’s no doubt that the workplace dress code is increasingly casual.

Related: Purposeful Work: The Six Barriers To Fulfilment In The Workplace

Augmented and virtual reality to improve recruiting and training

Gen Z and Millennials want their companies to incorporate virtual reality into the workplace and the technology that employees are experiencing outside of work naturally influence them to desire the same tech at the office.

Virtual and augmented reality can help close the experience gap for job seekers and allow employee training to be more engaging, less expensive and free of distractions.

Prepare yourself with the flexible part-time and online study opportunities offered at Wits Plus!

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