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Managing Staff

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

Are you managing your people correctly? If you aren’t you could be losing your best people.

Entrepreneur

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Be transparent. Be straight

Steven-Cohen

Steven Cohen

“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.”

Vital Stats:

“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

Alex-Fourie

Alex Fourie

“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.”

Vital stats:

  • 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

Albe-Geldenhuys

Albe Geldenhuys

“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.”

Vital Stats:

  • 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

Antonio Iozzo

Antonio Iozzo

“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.”

Vital Stats:

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-Creative-Counsel

Ran Neu-Ner and Gil Oved

“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.”

Vital Stats:

  • 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

Colin-Thornton

Colin Thornton

“The most important job description that I have is managing people.”

Vital Stats:

  • 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

Paul-Veldman

Paul Veltman

“We first create a detailed job description for each employee in the company, from the CEO to the receptionist — everyone has their own KPIs.”

Vital Stats:

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

Nicole-Stephens

Nicole Stephens

“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.”

Vital stats:

  • 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

Mike-Silver

Mike Silver

“We found an international company that placed volunteer interns in your business for a few months.”

Vital Stats:

“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

Amy-Kleinhans-Curd

Amy Kleinhans-Curd

“Great employees take responsibility and build themselves and the business with it.”

Vital Stats:

  • 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

Yossi-Hasson

Yossi Hasson

“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.”

Vital stats:

  • 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

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Managing Staff

7 Simple Steps To Strategise For 2019’s Success

To make that happen you will need to start strategising soon. So let’s talk about how all of us can create effective team strategies for 2019.

Revel Africa

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With the buzz and hoopla in full swing this holiday season, as managers and business owners it’s good to remember that the new year is right around the corner. We all want next year to be better than this one, and you probably have a few improvements in mind that you want to see come to fruition.

To make that happen you will need to start strategising soon. So let’s talk about how all of us can create effective team strategies for 2019.

1. First, clarify your goals

To know what the new year should look like, start by understanding what this year was like. Pull reports now while data is fresh, and look at this year’s performance. Identify the changes you’d like to see in the upcoming year.

Then you can clearly see what you want your team to achieve in the new year:

  • What specific metrics need work?
  • Do you want to see an increase in overall revenues by a certain percentage?
  • How about improving productivity and cutting costs?

2. Time to plan

Once you have an idea of what needs changing you can work out the details of how you will achieve it.

Consider the SMART acronym when putting your plan together. Is your plan:

  • Specific (simple, sensible, significant).
  • Measurable (meaningful, motivating).
  • Achievable (agreed, attainable).
  • Relevant (reasonable, realistic and resourced, results-based).
  • Time bound (time-based, time limited, time/cost limited, timely, time-sensitive)

As leaders we need to lead with clarity and decisiveness, but we will do well to gain the input and ideas of those we lead.

Once you have your plan in place, you can bring in your team.

Related: Planning A Year End Function On A Budget? Five Fabulous Tips To Get The Most Bang For Your Buck

3. Book a break-away meeting

Plan your meeting after the holiday season has passed. The start of the year is a good time, as everything has calmed down, minds are fresh, and people are ready for vision. So, early in January, bring your key management team together and let them know you would like to discuss the goals for the upcoming year.

Plan a meeting away from the office so that the usual distractions are eliminated, and you can all focus on the key objectives. Sometimes we need help arranging these things, like finding a great venue, arranging food, including ice-breakers, creative starters and games to get the juices flowing, and so on. This is not your core skill set, so consider hiring an event planner and an MC to keep the day on track, so that you can focus on the main thing – getting the team focused and energised for success in 2019.

4. Setup the meeting agenda

Start the meeting by bringing everyone up to speed by reviewing last year’s stats. Show the results that you reviewed and allow them to see where the areas of success were, as well as the areas that need attention. If you haven’t already, recognise the team members who stood out in various important aspects of the business. This is tremendously motivating and encouraging.

Get a conversation going either in small teams, or around the table where ideas are brainstormed for how to solve the areas that need improvement. Find out from the team why they think the business struggled in these areas, and how they think improvements can be made.

Your agenda could cover these conversation starters:

  1. What are the three most important objectives for this year. Think “big picture” here, things that touch on profit and future achievement.
  2. Who is responsible for each of these?
  • What will you do?
  • How will you do it?
  • By when will you do it?
  1. Break the year up into monthly metrics and put quarterly goal-planning reviews on your calendar. This commits you to pause and measure every 90 days, while keeping a close eye on profits, clients, projects, revenue in 30-day intervals.
  2. Link up. Remember, lone wolves starve to death. Think about who can you partner with in 2019 to reach your goals – who are your advocates, allies, referral sources, and potential joint venture partners who can help you leapfrog over obstacles and who complement your own products and services. Get contact details and build your relationship with them so you can collaborate more closely – starting right now.

Remember to take breaks that are fun and creative in order to unhook from this intense deep dive into strategy. You don’t want to burn out your team right at the start of the year. Keep snacks, water, and activities going so that they have fuel to keep on but start the year motivated and positive.

5. Draw up the final plan

Once done, it is time to go through all of the input you have received to supplement your strategies, and draw up the final plan. When your final plan is ready, bring the remainder of your team together and lay out the plan for 2019. This can be done via a video recording, Skype, an email, a meeting, or one-on-one conversations, depending on the size and locations of your team. Be clear about what they need to bring to the table in 2019 and how it will be measured. Then ask for a commitment from each team member to work toward the improvement in the coming year.

6. Tracking and Measuring

Once the team is committed and bought into the 2019 strategy, you’ve only just begun. Set policies and procedures in place to track progress, provide updates, and hold people accountable to their commitments. Some managers might opt to check the metrics daily and send out weekly updates, while others may check weekly and send out monthly updates. Whatever you decide, consistency is key to ensure you stay on track to achieve your goals in 2019.

7. Invest in resources for success in 2019

As this year winds down, commit yourself to leading, motivating, and inspiring your team to work together towards your common goal. Plan how you can come alongside your managers to ensure their success by offering mentoring, support, training, and whatever resources they need to achieve these goals.Their success is ultimately your success.

Similarly it might be a good time to invest more into your own growth – consider a mentor for the year ahead who can help take you past your own limitations and rutted thinking. Read books on leadership and other’s business successes; plan three mini-holidays in the year to keep you sharp and focused. Remember you can only give to others what you yourself have.

This simple yet effective strategy can be applied to whatever type of business you are in, and can help you gain the buy-in of your vision by your team and make 2019 a year of achievable success.

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Managing Staff

The Value Of Employee Growth

When you’re running a fresh and shiny new business, how do you ensure your employees feel like they have a place to go?

Chris Ogden

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Investing into the future of an employee is a complex task at the best of times. Well-established organisations battle to manage employee expectations and growth trajectories so what options does a startup have when it is still finding its feet? While having an agile and energetic young company is often enough of a drawcard for talent, you still need to create pathways that are unique to your business and that allow for employees to grow, both personally and professionally.

Step 01: Embrace difference

Recognise that your business is made up of a variety of different roles and that each one offers different employee pathways. You need to find the pathways and roles that suit an employee’s personality and their idea of where they want to grow.

It’s in seeing these differences and embracing them that you are already providing your employees with a voice and showing them that they are heard.

Related: 5 Benefits Of Turning Your Employee Into An Intrapreneur

Step 02: Be inventive

Find a way of creating growth opportunities even with the few roles you have in your business. For example, you could create a methodology that has tiered levels within a specific role. Then a person has opportunity to expand their skills and responsibilities in that role. This would work for roles that are fixed, like an office admin, or for roles that are flexible.

Step 03: Finance and responsibility

Outline how a person can grow financially and show them the additional objectives and responsibilities their role offers. Some people aren’t just about the money, they want more to do and they don’t want to be bored.

Step 04: Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)

It is essential that you measure people so that you can create opportunity for them. Tell them their KPIs so that they have benchmarks and everyone has expectations. This allows you to let people know when they are or are not doing well.

They can assess their performance properly and there is no risk of people having differing expectations that impact on ability or role. You must openly and honestly review employees and yourself.

Related: 6 Ways To Build Your Business With Employee-Entrepreneurs

Step 05: Encourage mentorship

It’s really worth encouraging people to guide or mentor one another. Some people may stay in your business for years, some only for a few months, but you want to see them all grow. By creating an environment that inspires people to mentor and guide one another, you’re ensuring that every person in your business is given a chance to teach and to learn.

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Managing Staff

Peak Performance: How To Get The Best Out Of Your Business Team

Understand and more importantly apply the following to your business and you too can dramatically improve the experience of your employees and ironically, with that people over profit approach attain profits never seen before.

Dirk Coetsee

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“Sell your cleverness and purchase awe”

Rumi

Under the periphery of Leadership and humanitarian philosophies lies the reality of people not always being understood nor treated well in their workplaces. Albeit that lip service is often paid to a people over profit Leadership style few entrepreneurs or companies bring it to life to its fullest potential.

Those select few leaders whom have had the awesome experience of leading business teams that are inspired, constantly learn new skills and sharpen existing ones, are change adept, with behaviours aligned to the business vision, and solving problems within a ‘family environment’ of mutual trust and respect have indeed ‘sold their cleverness and have purchased awe’.

Understand and more importantly apply the following to your business and you too can dramatically improve the experience of your employees and ironically, with that people over profit approach attain profits never seen before.

Related: Peak Performance: Multiply Personal And Team Business Performance

If it is to be it is up to me

tony-robbins

The author totally agrees with Tony Robbins who states that “Business is 20% technical and 80% psychology”. The state of your business and the performance of your business team is so much dependent upon your state as an entrepreneur, business owner, or investor. Your psychological  state as a tapestry weaved together by your thinking, beliefs and behaviours influences all aspects of the business.

If you demand states of positivity, peak performance, massive and confident actions from your team you yourself better embody those states day in, day out.

Luminaries and leaders such as Jim Kwik (Brain and learning expert) , Tony Robbins (World leading Life coach and Billionaire entrepreneur) , Ed Mylet (Entrepreneur and passionate advocate for peak performance) take control of their lives, days, and states by consciously doing a variety of practises each morning to ensure that they are at optimal levels of performance and state as they approach a new day.

Conscious , focussed, and mindful efforts such as ‘NLP Peak state exercises’, Meditation, Prayer, reading, visualisations, breathing exercises,  and physical exercise can be very impactful with regards to your daily engagements as a leader or entrepreneur.

I love what Ed Mylet has to say about self-confidence and influence:

Self-confidence comes from keeping promises to yourself which equals self-trust’. We all lose self-confidence and self-trust when we keep on promising to ourselves that we will start exercising or stop smoking and we never do. Start keeping promises to yourself as a matter of honour.

‘Influencing is not making others believe but its’ about showing them that you truly believe in what you are saying’.

Inspire instead of motivate

Be future orientated in deed and speech as an Entrepreneur. Hold and treasure an inspiring future Vision in front of your team and ‘sweat and bleed’ alongside them to actualise that vision. ‘First seek to understand and then to be understood’, as the late Leadership expert Stephen Covey said, in relation to your communication style. Most of all love your team and foster a culture of self-improvement, growth and learning.

Tell inspiring and true stories in relation to the vision and team members’ behaviours that are in alignment with your companies’ vision. Motivation is fickle and tied to your will-power which is finite.

Sincerely hold on to an inspiring future vision and defining Purpose which can provide infinite inspiration.

Related: Business Leadership – Learn How To Embrace Change

Entrepreneurs and leaders create environments for team members to thrive in

The ultimate ‘hack’ in relation to performance for entrepreneurs and leaders is to create an environment for their co-team members within which they can thrive, creatively contribute, and feel as part of a family that is actualising an inspiring future vision.

When team members do not feel safe or trusted they spend a lot of time creating safety nets (even sometimes false ones) for themselves as opposed to actually doing their work. Lead by inspiring example and actually do what you say you will do all in alignment with the companies’ vision and values and your team members will trust and follow you.

Personalise their rewards and constantly demonstrate that you care about them as people and value them as highly important contributors to the attainment of the companies cause.

Go forth and lead your team to the peak of your collective performance!

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