Be transparent. Be straight
“I’ll say straight up that you know you’ve let us down and it’s affecting the team. 30% clean up their act, and 70% leave.”
- Steven Cohen
- Head of Sage One International
- Oversees Africa, Australia, Middle East, Asia and Brazil
“We’re transparent about our profits with the whole company. Our monthly meetings include the entire company, and are used to show turnover figures. We break this down to our profit level.
“Everyone understands that we need to meet targets set by Sage, but it’s also very empowering for them to know how they’re contributing to our profits. It gets everyone engaged, and they can see if their department or team is meeting or exceeding budget targets. If something dips, everyone wants to interrogate why. The more transparent you are, the more engaged your employees will be.
“Transparency is important at a personal level too. I’m honest, I’m one of the guys and I often have after-work drinks with my teams, but if you let me down you’ll know it. Ethics and attitude are the only career-limiting issues in the company. People with great attitudes will learn the job, so we hire based on attitude, particularly our managers, because culture flows down. If you consistently let me down, I’ll take you out for coffee and have an honest chat. I’ll say straight up that you know you’ve let us down and it’s affecting the team. 30% clean up their act, and 70% leave.”
Read more: Learning Along the Way
Even the best people can use re-training
“When you’re offering a premium service, the customer must always be your number-one priority. We hire our technicians for their skills, but they often come from a network background where saving money comes first, the customer second. It’s the opposite here, so we have to retrain them to continue doing their jobs well, but put the customer first.”
- Alex Fourie is the founder of nation-wide out-of-warrantee smart-device-repair company, weFix.
- The company has enjoyed triple-digit growth since launching in 2007.
When you’re in the services industry, your customer is king. Alex Fourie knows this especially well – in fact, he hires his store managers from the hospitality industry.
Why? Because hospitality managers work well under pressure, are excellent when it comes to client service, and also manage staff well. Similarly, it’s important that everyone in your business, lives and breathes your company culture and delivers on your promise to customers.
In this case, Fourie’s technicians are hired for skill, and then thoroughly re-trained on putting customers above cost.
Read more: Can staff training increase my turnover?
Know your culture. Be consistent
“I’m an autocratic leader. I tell everyone how things are going to happen, and they make them work. I’d go so far as to say that I even rule by fear, but I’m consistent.”
- Albe Geldenhuys is the founder of USN, manufacturers of sports and nutrition supplements.
“I’m an autocratic leader. I tell everyone how things are going to happen, and they make them work. I’d go so far as to say that I even rule by fear a bit, but I’m consistent, and my team listens to what I say. This was the company culture that I created. However, as we grew, our back-end couldn’t keep up with our sales. I needed to focus on that. I also wanted to focus on product development, advertising and sales. I didn’t want to be MD as well, and so I promoted one of my managers, a lawyer who was excellent at the details, to be MD. The move caused problems I just hadn’t foreseen.
“For many, the shift in leadership style was just too much. Where I had been a firm task master, the new MD was a mild-mannered, diplomatic accountant, trying to operate within a framework that I had created. The company culture didn’t know how to adjust. We ended up losing some great people as a result. People need consistency, and to know exactly what the company culture is.”
Read more: Does Your Staff Dislike You?
Put your energy into great employees, not the bad apples
“Give your top employees more and more responsibility. It takes trust, and they won’t always get it right, but they will learn, and, if you’ve judged them correctly, they’ll fly.”
- Antonio Iozzo is the founder of Insurance Underwriting Managers (IUM)
- IUM is a R350 million business he built from R10 000 seed capital
Antonio Iozzo works on a simple system with his staff, based on what he calls A, B and C employees. ‘A’ employees are extremely good at what they do, they work hard, and they’re rewarded for it. The more responsibility I give them, the more they thrive.
‘B’ employees are the worker bees. They come in every day, do their jobs and can be relied on. They’re essential to the business.
“’C’ employees are the bad apples, and, when we spot them, we get rid of them as quickly as we can. It’s not because they’re necessarily lazy or inept; more often than not it’s because of their attitudes. They don’t take responsibility for their own happiness or success, but instead blame their managers, colleagues and the business for their failures. They’re incessant complainers. C employees can turn Bs into other Cs quicker than you can blink, and you can’t fix them. Don’t waste your energy on Cs. Get rid of them. You should be spending your time on As and Bs – they’re the foundation of your success.”
Read more: Want to Lead Your Staff? Serve Your People
Encourage healthy, heated debate
“The rule is simple: You can challenge anyone, at any time, but you must play the ball, not the man. It’s not allowed to get personal.”
- Ran Neu-Ner and Gil Oved are the founders of The Creative Counsel
- The company is SA’s largest advertising agency with a turnover of R700 million.
“We really believe in a sense of competition, and healthy, heated debate is part of this. It’s bred into our backgrounds. You respect your parents, but if you disagree with something they’ve said or decreed, that’s where the negotiation begins. You need to find the angle to get your way.
“It follows that the more and harder you debate something, the better. You chip the block away from all angles, and you’ll find the best answer and a better result. As business partners, we might not always agree with each other, but we’ve always had the same intent: What’s best for the business?
“And this filters down to the whole company, from managers to new employees. Anyone can challenge anyone, as long as it’s not personal and logic prevails.
“We end up with juniors who think they have a right to challenge us – and they do. If Ran tells a junior copywriter his idea is bad, he can (and will) fight for it. On one memorable occasion, a junior copywriter actually came back six times to defend his idea, until he finally won the debate.”
Read more: 4 Steps to Hiring Killer Sales Staff
Lead by example
“The most important job description that I have is managing people.”
- Colin Thornton is the co-founder and CEO of Dial a Nerd.
“Customer service is our entire business. If we relax, this starts slipping, so I keep a constant watch over how we are delivering on our mandate and receive monthly reports on client interactions. I am also very conscious of the fact that I need to lead by example.
“If a client wants to speak directly to me, I make sure I’m available. One of the things that has always driven me nuts is companies whose MDs are inaccessible. You have a problem and you’re passed from manager to manager and never feel as if your issue is being addressed or taken seriously.
“This isn’t the business we want to be. Our differentiator is service, and I can’t insist on that with our managers and technicians if I’m not willing to follow suit with my own time.”
Read more: How To Keep Your Staff
KPIs drive growth
“We first create a detailed job description for each employee in the company, from the CEO to the receptionist — everyone has their own KPIs.”
- Paul Veltman is the founder of Velti Events.
Paul Veltman is all about giving his employees a reason to not be average.
Paul Veltman is all about giving his employees a reason to not be average. “We wanted to create key performance indicators for each employee that aligned their five-year goals with the company’s growth. These needed to work for everyone, but they also needed to offer enough of an incentive for employees to embrace. It’s hard work, for them and us, but it means a bigger pay cheque (or additional time off) for them, and top-class staff for us, which ultimately means satisfied and loyal customers.
“We first create a detailed job description for each employee in the company, from the CEO to the receptionist — everyone has their own KPIs. It’s important to state exactly what they do so that we can rate each element accurately. In an SME with ambitious go-getters these need to be updated quarterly as job descriptions are constantly evolving. We then do monthly, quarterly and yearly reviews that are driven by the employees themselves.”
“They take us through their performance and how they rate themselves, which keeps them actively involved in their progress. It’s time consuming, but the results — improved performance and client satisfaction — make the system worth it.”
Read more: Ubertech Meets Ubergeek: Stafford Masie isn’t Just Changing the Rules… He’s Changing the Game
Pick your people carefully
“The key factor in making flexi-time work is to hire the right people. Our agents are self-starters, have outstanding work ethic, and are over-achievers, which means there’s no need for micro-managing or monitoring.”
- Nicole Stephens is the co-founder of The Recruitment Specialist (TRS).
- The company was founded in 2010, has two agents and two founders, all of whom work in a decentralised manner across two countries.
- They’ve been profitable from day one.
Flexi-time is the way of the future, and many studies show that employees with more freedom and flexibility with their work hours are much more productive than their nine-to-five counterparts. But many companies are anxious about letting go of control.
The answer is just like Nicole Stephens suggests: It’s about hiring the right kind of person rather than retro-fitting non-flexi-time employees and learning the hard way that they’re not cut out for it.
Flexi-time staff need the above-mentioned qualities, and without them, you could have trouble.
Read more: Should You Hire a Motivational Speaker to Motivate Staff?
Finding affordable talent
“We found an international company that placed volunteer interns in your business for a few months.”
- Mike Silver is the founder and MD of Stretch Experiential Marketing.
“As a start-up, employees are a bit of a chicken-and-egg situation. If you employ a team too early, you don’t have the cash flow to pay their salaries, but if you don’t deliver well on jobs because you don’t have support staff, you’ll lose repeat business. My solution was to find affordable talent. We did this in two ways. First, we found an international company that placed volunteer interns in your business for a few months.
“They’re here to discover South Africa and get some work experience, but because they’re on holiday visas they can’t be paid, so your only expense is to the agency they’re sourced through. It was a mixed bag of talent. We had about 30 students working over a five-year period, some being incredible, others barely speaking English.
“For my permanent employees, we targeted kids who were looking for their first jobs and didn’t have high expenses and responsibilities.
“We’d ask them the absolute minimum they could accept, and in exchange they’d receive what we call ‘glamour tax,’ which is basically a cool working environment where they’d have fun, meet people, spend time at events and be exposed to great brands.”
Read more: How Mike Silver Became The Next Best Brand And Marketing Guy
Encourage employee growth
“Great employees take responsibility and build themselves and the business with it.”
- Amy Kleinhans-Curd is one of the country’s most famous Miss South Africa winners.
- Today, she’s better known for her role as co-founder and director of the PLP Group.
“Understanding myself and my limits and strengths isn’t only important for my own development, but that of my employees as well. To be truly productive as a business owner, you need to know when to let things go. I’ll gladly let someone else run with an idea and make a success of it.
“It’s my job to come up with those ideas and conceptualise where we are, where we should be, and how we’re going to get there, but I have a great team who then takes care of the operational side of actually making things happen. If it’s something I love and I’m good at, I’ll run with it, but first, I take a step back and critically evaluate if I’m the best person for that particular project. If the answer is no, I hand it over. It’s as simple as that.
“We’ve built an incredible team over the years, and everyone has their own passions and strengths. It’s important to play to those strengths; pick the best person for each job, and remember that just because it’s your company doesn’t mean it’s always you.
“It then becomes my role to delegate, and then stay in touch through regular updates. I’m not saying hand something over and walk away – that’s also counter-productive. But you don’t need ownership of everything. Great employees take responsibility and build themselves and the business with it.”
Read more: Amy Kleinhans-Curd on Lifelong Entrepreneurship
Maximising info in minimal time
“To manage teams we’ve got a report back system called ‘15-5’. It takes 15 minutes to write and five minutes to read, and each contains a manager’s top five priorities for a week or month, and their one absolute top priority. The report details what they’re working on, stuck on, or been successful with.”
- Yossi Hasson is the co-founder of Synaq, a company listed as one of Forbes’ Top 20 Tech Start-ups for 2012.
- In 2011, Dimension Data bought a 50,1% stake in the business.
Time is a commodity that’s not to be squandered, especially when your skills are required at higher levels of business such as strategising, and Yossi Hasson knows that.
Every Monday he’s able take 20 minutes to get a full grasp on what his four managers are handling for the week, and his managers know what their teams are up to.
He’s then able to make decisions, direct, and have follow up conversations where needed without requiring lengthy meetings.
Read more: As An Entrepreneur, Be A Motivational Leader To Your Staff
Day Zero And Your Employees – What An Entrepreneur Needs To Know
With Day Zero pushed out to 2019, entrepreneurs in the Western Cape are still left with one concerning question: “What will happen to my business should the water supply still run dry?”
Depending on their reliance on municipal water, entrepreneurs could potentially find themselves without the ability to generate revenue in the absence of water. During this time, they will still be expected to pay staff a salary, creating a potentially untenable situation for certain businesses.
It is imperative that entrepreneurs in the Western Cape region start early discussions with their employees to find possible solutions that can be implemented should Day Zero actually hit. CDH provides the following possibilities to consider:
To pay or not to pay, that is the question
The duty of the employer to pay remuneration continues as long as the employee tenders his or her services. This is also the case where an employee is prevented from working, due to an unanticipated or unpreventable act such as a natural disaster.
An employer would have to pay its employees that tender work even if it cannot provide them with any work. Fortunately for employers, labour law recognises certain measures that can be taken to minimise this burden. The two most common are short-time and the temporary suspension of payment of remuneration. It is also important to note that these two measures can only be implemented if all parties concerned have agreed to it.
Short-time is a system of work that is used for periods when there is little or no work. The system recognises that paying an employee for periods when he or she is not working places undue strain on the financial position of the employer and the employee.
Employees may either agree to short-time in a contract of employment, or an employer may enter into a collective agreement regulating short-time with a union representing the affected employees.
A temporary suspension of payment of remuneration may be implemented when there is some prospect of the work situation improving in the near future and the employer being able to provide the employee with work. This may be implemented as an alternative to a dismissal.
Where there is no agreement to these alternatives an entrepreneur will have to engage with his or her employees, explain the company’s position and attempt to secure an agreement in this regard. If an employer is unable to do so, he or she may have to consider retrenchments.
Can you retrench employees as a result of Day Zero?
This is a difficult question. An employer will have to consider whether employees’ inability to work will be for a prolonged period.
There is no way of knowing how long a drought will continue. With the unpredictable effects of global warming, the weather has become increasingly difficult to forecast. The World Wildlife Fund anticipates that if the Western Cape region receives the same rainfall pattern as last year, the drought will continue for six months.
The Labour Relations Act, No. 66 of 1995 allows an employer to retrench employees for ‘operational requirements’. Operational requirements are defined as requirements based on economic, technological, structural or similar needs.
In order to establish that an ‘operational requirements’ dismissal is substantively fair, an employer must determine that genuine operational requirements exist. If the anticipated consequence of the drought is that a business may not be able to continue with its operations – without access to municipal water – this would constitute an operational requirement.
In conclusion, CDH advises entrepreneurs in the region whose business is heavily reliant on water to consider entering into working arrangements with their employees for the duration of the drought. This will ensure that the entrepreneur and the employee are both in agreement regarding available options should Day Zero occur. It will also help provide a sustainable alternative to retrenchments.
10 Corny But Undeniably True And Inspiring Quotes About Teamwork
As Michael Jordan said, “Talent wins games; teamwork wins championships.” He ought to know.
With two games remaining, my daughter’s soccer team is in second place. They’ve won nine games and lost only one – to the team in third place.
Although that team doesn’t not have as many star players as our side, they beat us on the admittedly widely held but elusive principle that sharing the ball leads to more goals (and better defense) than impressive dribbling or individuality.
In other words, their 11 played better as a team than the three remarkable players on my daughter’s team. Granted, the third-place team probably dropped more games than we did because playing as an effective team in consecutive games is harder to do. After all, it’s easier for a few great players to show up to every game (as we have mostly done) than a reliable team.
In any case, my daughter’s “club” will square off against the first place team this weekend. I suspect they’ll lose unless they listen to Michael Jordan: “Talent wins games; teamwork wins championships.”
The same is true in business and life in general.
If we want to “win championships” in both of those, we have to get others involved, pass more, risk failure, allow teammates to learn from their mistakes by letting them commit them and putting the needs of the group above our own selfish aspirations.
To that end, I encourage you, my daughter’s soccer team and everyone else interested in winning to consider and internalise my 10 favourite quotes on the importance of competing as a team. Some are a bit corny. All are true.
Your Team Will Succeed Only If They Trust Each Other
Trust is difficult to establish, hard to maintain and easy to break.
Bureaucracy exists were trust doesn’t. Excessive process and micromanaging exist because people don’t trust each other to do what’s right and what’s needed. In a digital era where social tools make you more visible and accessible, you make personal and business decisions based on trust daily.
The 2018 Edelman Trust Barometer, often identified as the benchmark of trust measurement, recently identified that there has been a “loss of trust: The willingness to believe information, even from those closest to us.”
Trust is difficult to establish, hard to maintain and easy to break. In business, trust is one of the most valuable and complex of all your assets. It solidifies your relationships with all people and leads an organisation to thrive. As Richard Branson often says, “Learn to look out for your staff first, and the rest will follow.”
Let me share with you eight principles that determine whom and how you trust in the workplace.
1. How people handle failure
Within an organisation, when people trust each other, their energy is invested in minimising damage and getting on with it.
The involved parties take responsibility without prompting and lead the conversation to see how the problem will be avoided in the future.
A recent Google study, Project Aristotle, was founded on the premise of understanding why certain teams in the workplace struggle while others thrive. Researchers determined that “psychological safety” is the key to building and fostering successful team.
When people don’t trust each other, blame and shame runs rapid through the tapestry of the organisation. Taking responsibility embraces your vulnerability and leads people to move forward together.
2. Accumulate trust deposits
Trust is like a flower. Once we step on a flower, it’s difficult to revive it. When you think about trust within a workplace, we know that when members trust each other to execute, teams are inherently productive.
When we want to create and build upon an environment that fosters trust, then what we say we will do, we do. We genuinely are curious and listen.
We are honest in how we provided feedback, without the sugar coating. And we don’t engage in gossip, eradicating the “I shouldn’t be saying this, but…” conversations. When we are visible and transparent in the workplace, we create a platform that invites shared thinking from all.
3. Work together to solve pain points
Most projects take more than one person to accomplish. Trusting colleagues is about letting go of the urge to be a lone ranger. Your team members have to be trusted to accomplish their tasks so you can complete yours.
Autonomy is only possible where there is trust. When you trust, you don’t expend much of your time and energy watching your back. Your energy is directed towards productivity and innovation.
Horst Schultze, one of the founders of the Ritz-Carlton Hotels, epitomised what it meant to be a trust-building leader.
Every employee was provided with an induction to the organisation, coupled with extensive training and a $2000 discretionary fund they could use to solve a customer problem without checking with anyone. He honoured his people by collecting their stories in making a difference for customers.
Related: Team Building Without Time Wasting
A team with high trust inspires its members to retain trust through excellence. Time is spent on identifying and breaking through road blocks, inspiring people to share more and working together to resolve pain points.
4. Small actions over time
Trust is not a matter of technique, but of character. You are trusted because of your way of being, not because of your polished exteriors. Building a culture of trust in the workplace occurs one step at a time. It is the small actions over time.
As a leader wanting to build trust, talk about what you want, not what you don’t want. Lend your voice toward what you want to bring to make it happen. When you operate from a place of trust, you demonstrate a commitment toward trust.
You show others what can be by promoting the ideas, talents and contributions of those you work with. Focus on what people can do and help others succeed. Step toward trust from where you are.
5. Sharing stories
Trust can grow rapidly when someone shares with you something touching that happened earlier in their life. You start to build a shared empathy.
When you want to create trust in teams, initiate conversations or invest in team games that help you tell stories you want to tell.
You control what you want to share with colleagues that can break down the divide between people and teams and lead to more empathy. Sharing stories is one way to connect and build trust.
6. What can mice teach us
A study at NYU Langone showed that when mice were given oxytocin, they started caring for the other mice’s babies as if they were their own. The oxytocin hormone enhances bonding, and even after the mice’s oxytocin receptors were shut off, this behaviour continued.
Oxytocin, the trust molecule, can teach us a lot about working together as a team and building great working relationships leading to more trust in the workplace.
Related: Making The Team ‘Work’
The best way to build your team’s internal trust is to be transparent about the overall vision and progress of the business, showing people how and why their work is important. Leaders must provide guidance, schedule check-ins between colleagues, and make room for conversations that strengthen connections.
7. Monkey see, monkey do
Our brains are wired to place survival as the top priority. In the workplace, any person who can demonstrate that they can reduce or eliminate threats to other’s survival is deemed trustworthy.
When we watch someone else, our brain is activated in the same way that the brain of the person you are observing is activated, effectively through what is called “mirror neurons.”
This means you may unintentionally transfer your own feelings of distrust to others. The trick is you can’t fake trust. You must believe that your colleagues are trustworthy to transmit this signal to them. In return, their brain will start feeling trust towards you as a result.
8. Emotions impact trust levels in the workplace
There are many ways to treat your colleagues well, but one of the most important initiatives is creating a culture that makes it safe to make mistakes and openly debate and discuss issues without fear of retribution. Your colleagues will trust your ability to help them grow if they know that failures will be treated as teachable moments.
In a time of crisis, how you act in difficult times is the greatest measure of your integrity. Don’t wait to talk about a mistake that happened until everyone finds out about it on social media, and don’t sugarcoat what happened. Take swift action to right a wrong. Taking responsibility preserves trust.
Atlassian, a global software giant, built a culture where articulating why certain decisions are made is important in how they have built trust.
An “open company, no bullshit” value within the company has provided teams with access to information as quickly as possible, allowing employees to share and express their opinion without feeling they are going to get judged or pulled down. The company supports an environment where individuality is celebrated.
This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.
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