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Increasing Productivity

Communicating When Times are Tough

These guidelines will serve you well during good times and bad. Ensure that you communicate constructively, mobilise your entire team during tough times and stand amazed at what you can achieve together.

Su-Mari Du Bruyn




With energy and labour costs on the rise, competition increasing from all over the globe, customers becoming more and more demanding, and price wars rife throughout many industries, more and more employers are facing challenging times.

Compared to this, being the bearer of good news is a more pleasant experience. The biggest mistake that these companies are making is trying to turn things around with only the efforts of the owner or the senior management team.

A big boat can be turned faster and more easily if all the passengers are doing their bit to paddle in the right direction, instead of relying on the efforts of only a select few.

Companies often delay having these discussions with employees for fear they will panic and prematurely jump ship. Managers shy away from having these difficult conversations with their employees because of the discomfort they will feel when facing questions to which they don’t presently have the answers to.

It’s important however to note, however, that these discussions are a sign of significant trust in your employees and that, in the end, they have a right to know.

Here are some communication guidelines to help you face up to the challenge:

  • Make sure that the person communicating with employees is someone they trust.
  • Thoroughly prepare for the discussion – brainstorm potential questions that employees may have and be prepared to answer them. Also prepare on how you’re going to respond to questions that you didn’t prepare for. If you promise staff that you’ll revert back to them at a later stage on certain questions they have, make sure that you honour that commitment and that you do so promptly.
  • Your communication must be factual, honest and sincere – avoid losing control of your emotions. If you need to apologise, do so. Be prepared to be criticised, challenged and questioned all throughout this recovery period. Encourage this behaviour and be grateful for these employees who still care so passionately about your business.
  • Be clear – if you expect staff to cease all luxury expenditure, you’ll have to be very clear on what you consider to be luxury items (for example not everyone will view training, catering for on-site meetings or venue fees for off-site meetings as luxuries).
  • Do not make promises that you cannot keep.
  • Make sure that employees are clear on your commitment to stick it out and that you reassure them that you’ll do your best to find a way to turn things around. Any changes in the management team or public disagreement between members of the management team during this time will create more uncertainty and should be avoided.
  • Remind team members that it is natural for tensions to rise during challenging times, but that you expect them to look out for each other, pull together and support each other.
  • Squash rumours with honesty. Where you do not provide the true story, people will make up their own. Make it very clear that spreading rumours will not be tolerated and make sure that you back this up with your actions.
  • Set the example. Be fair and consistent. Do not allow one department to spend on luxuries whilst holding another department accountable for savings. Do not approve any unnecessary expenditure.
  • Set targets, keep track of the progress against these targets, regularly update employees on the progress and recognise employees for working together to achieve the common goal. Once things take a turn for the better and have stabilized, reward employees appropriately.

Su-Mari Du Bruyn is co-founder of Adapt To Change. She is a qualified HR practitioner and logistics specialist and is passionate about Continuous Improvement and people development. Through Adapt To Change she assists businesses to improve their business performance and better engage their staff. Su-Mari also recently launched her e-book business guide, The Power to Ignite. Available exclusively on for Kindle, The Power to Ignite is a practical guide to the powerful art of Continuous Improvement, sharing proven methodology and highlighting important dos and don’ts in engaging staff and improving business results. Find her on Google+


Increasing Productivity

The Entrepreneurial Case For A Co-Working Space

Morné Stoltz, MiWay Head of Business Insurance shares the benefits and competitive advantage of co-working business spaces.

Morné Stoltz




South Africa’s small business sector continues to grow, with the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor report for 2016/17 indicating that SMMEs now account for over 36% of the country’s GDP. Yet these numbers do not reveal the many challenges faced by local entrepreneurs, many of whom are unable to sustain their business operations due to limited support and countless administrative hassles.

Many entrepreneurs also suffer as a result of reduced opportunities for collaboration and networking, with many working from home or out of small offices that leave them with little exposure to other like-minded business owners, whilst their larger counterparts are able to build networks and push the boundaries of innovation by tapping into a wider spectrum of human capita.

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

Entrepreneurs have been largely left to fend for themselves, leaving them at an obvious disadvantage in the marketplace.Yet, with the recent emergence of co-working spaces, this pattern is slowly starting to shift, with small business owners now beginning to band together in the absence of appropriate support from those able to give it.

Why you need collaborative spaces

Not only do these collaborative spaces expose entrepreneurs to others facing similar challenges, but they also facilitate networking opportunities and much needed interpersonal interaction without a hefty price tag. In these 21st century workspaces, entrepreneurs are able to feed off one another’s energy, discuss and find solutions to administrative challenges and share resources so as to preserve that all-important cash flow.

Some co-working spaces also host regular presentations and events attended by industry luminaries, enabling business owners to up their expertise and connect with relevant big players in their respective fields.

Could this new way of working be the answer for the South African economy, which relies heavily on SMEs to sustain its growth? Sadly, the massive administrative and psychological challenges faced by small business owners are unlikely to be completely overcome without the necessary investment from government and the private sector. Inevitably, businesses need both money and time to survive and it is usually only the former that frees up the latter.

Co-working spaces offer a lifeline to new business

Nonetheless, there is certainly an entrepreneurial case to be made for the co-working space. While it might not be a complete entrepreneurial elixir, it does nonetheless offer up a lifeline for new businesses, affording them access to the people and networks that can elevate emerging enterprises from good to great.

Related: The Workspace And MiWay Announce Entrepreneur Competition

That being said, not all co-working spaces are created equal and it is important that entrepreneurs seek out locations that best suit their businesses and working styles. Here are a few key things to look out for when embarking on the search for the perfect space:

Search for synchronicities

It is not simply enough to be around other entrepreneurs – if you want your business to thrive rather than simply survive, you will need to find a space populated with others in similar fields.

Naturally, you do not want to be sitting across from your biggest industry rival, but it is not going to do you much good if you are a marketing guru surrounded by a group of architects. So look for places typically frequented by those with complementary skills – it is the perfect kick-off point for great network building.

Do your research

Everyone has different working styles, so it is important that you find a co-working space that best suits yours. A loud, boisterous environment might be invigorating for some, while others prefer a quieter, more laid-back tone. By setting up camp in a space that facilitates productivity and energy, you’ll be far better placed to succeed.

Buy into the right benefits

Co-working spaces come in many shapes, sizes and price ranges. Ensure that you pick one that offers you exactly what you need without breaking the bank. While you’ll want your space to be adaptable in the event of growth, you also don’t want to have to invest in more square meterage than entirely necessary. By all means think big, but also preserve your bottom line for the time being.

Related: Lifestyle-Focused Work Environments Are Not Just For Millennials

You’ll also want to look into the other perks offered by your local co-working spaces. Many offer secretarial services, administrative assistance and other similar amenities, which are like gold dust for entrepreneurs who’ve started up their operations based on skills rather than savvy.

For other business owners, networking events and seminars might be exactly what’s needed to fast track your growth trajectory, so carefully weigh up the benefits and costs based upon your specific pain points and potential areas for improvement.

MiWay is an Authorised Financial Services Provider (Licence no: 33970)

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Increasing Productivity

You Can Motivate Your Employees Without Creating A Hyper-Competitive Culture

Creating work atmospheres where people choose to engage and do their best work for the right reasons will lead to sustainable success.

Gary Beckstrand




Recently, major companies – from the flashiest tech startups to centuries-old legacy banks — have made unwanted headlines due to unrealistic expectations and growth-at-all-costs behaviour.

Employees expressed concern that Uber favoured “high performers” over a safe environment for its female employees, as detailed by a former employee’s viral blog post; Zenefits created software to help its employees cheat on state online broker license courses to sell insurance illegally, and hired people with little experience in the highly regulated insurance industry. Also among companies reluctantly in the news recently, Amazon reportedly condoned workaholic behaviour to achieve its ambitions.

These companies exemplify company cultures that seem to focus only on results, leading to unintended consequences. Unfortunately, this corporate perspective is common to many Silicon Valley start-ups, as well as established companies.

In attempting to accomplish innovative feats, they ignore fundamental culture practices that will benefit every company, regardless of whether they’ve been around 30 months or 30 years and what metrics they’re trying to hit. Focusing on results without creating work atmospheres where people choose to engage and do their best work for the right reasons will lead to behaviours that put current and future business results at risk.

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

What can be done to avoid growth-at-all costs environments that continue to be an issue for many organisations? It begins with leadership.

How leadership can improve

Many leaders scale the ranks because they were effective doers – they got the results they wanted through hard work. These leaders often don’t understand that when they assume a new role as manager of a team, their purpose in the company shifts as well. Their primary responsibility is to influence the work of others rather than do the work themselves.

Often, inexperienced or poor leaders can be micromanagers who unintentionally put unhealthy pressure on team members, rather than taking a step back and creating an environment in which people can do their best work.

Connecting to purpose

Leaders cannot force their employees to do something, but they can give their employees the choice to engage. The best motivator for true engagement is to help the employee connect with the overall purpose of the company, rather than driving performance through fear or pressure.

Is your company simply driving results for results’ sake? Now might be the time to connect the results to an end benefit for the customer and to share that greater purpose with your employees.

People aren’t lazy

lazy-staffMany leaders hold the misconception that people are inherently lazy and will slack off if highly competitive cultures aren’t cultivated or goals aren’t mandated. They believe that if people don’t have structure and steep quotas to reach, their natural tendency is to not produce.

Related: 10 Tips To Motivate Employees Without Resorting To Money

The reality is people want to make a difference. People want to do great work and achieve what hasn’t been done before. If they feel their work is connected to a deeper purpose and the overall mission of the company, they will willingly spend more time on projects, rise to the occasion and hit targets, without undue pressure.

Recognising rather than penalising

Employees want to achieve great work, but they also want to be recognised for it when they do, rather than penalised if they don’t hit the mark. They want a culture that celebrates wins of individuals and teams instead of one that instills fear. A recent study conducted by my company found that of the six most common motivating factors that cause employees to produce great work, recognition is by far the number one factor.

We live in a competitive business world in which every company wants to go above and beyond the industry standard. Establishing aggressive goals and focusing on results is important; however, unless leadership works to create cultures where employees are motivated to do their best work for the right reasons, they may unintentionally reinforce unhealthy and unethical behaviour that puts the very business results they seek at risk.

This article was originally posted here on

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Increasing Productivity

How To Build Organisational Wealth Through Increased Efficiency

Using the right business systems can allow your staff to become more efficient through best-practices and better process flows.




As your business grows, the demands of running and managing all its parts increase. Fortunately, technology can help you standardise, streamline and adapt your operations in order to meet these increased demands. Let’s have a look at some of the ways in which you can increase efficiency to build your organisational wealth.

Integrated business units

It can be difficult to get a holistic view of what is going on in your business if information is floating between different departments and/or locations. Manually pulling data together can be very time consuming, causing delays and leaving greater room for human error.

Related: How To Improve Your Business Productivity And Efficiency With Help From Tech

By implementing an integrated business management solution, you can significantly increase efficiency among all your business units, allowing departments to easily share and access information. This real-time, inter-departmental integration allows you to get a birds-eye view of the performance of your business at the click of a button.

Business process automation

You can significantly save time by automating key business processes with an Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system. Accounting, for example, is much easier when details of all transactions are quickly and automatically shared between departments (no need to manually upload or download information).

Automation will enable your teams to respond to customer enquiries with alacrity and maintain optimal stock levels. Through automatic alerts and responses, relevant managers will be notified when stock reaches predetermined minimum levels. When these levels are reached, purchase orders for replenishment stock are automatically generated.

Automation also enforces consistency in your business’s day to day operations by following local and industry best-practices built into the system.

Synchronised customer data

The success of any small to medium sized business depends on getting new customers and providing excellent products and services to existing customers. Collating and sharing customer data across all departments is essential for effective customer service. SAP Business One, for example, provides the tools to track and manage the entire sales process, from initial contact and invoicing through to project management and after sales support – playing a pivotal role in customer retention management.

This complete view of past, present and prospective customers, along with historic purchases will help you to better understand your customers’ needs, behaviours and preferences. This will enable you to respond to clients effectively in order to boost satisfaction levels, increase sales, maximise profits and ultimately promote client retention. In addition, your marketing team can better plan campaigns based on insights from accurate data about prospective and current customers.

Related: 101 Efficiency Hacks For Busy Entrepreneurs

Instant access to information

You have to be able to plan properly to stay ahead of your competitors. Having access to up to date, relevant and accurate business data removes the guesswork and empowers employees to make informed business decisions. With an integrated business management system, you will be able to better manage your cash flow and stock holding with a real-time overview of current stock levels, orders in process and outstanding payments. This, in turn, will save time and allow you to better manage your procurement process and help build organisational wealth.

Who doesn’t like it when a plan comes together and things are working well? Working smarter and better – not harder – is what increased efficiency is about. Your teams will share the benefits of increased efficiency as you grow your organisational wealth together.

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