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Managing Staff

The Best From the Rest

How important are your employees to you? And do they know?

Su-Mari Du Bruyn




It’s inevitable that somewhere, somehow, in business, a process is in some way dependent on an individual. Another way to look at this is that no business can exist if we keep people entirely out of it. Do your employees experience that they are the core of your business’s existence?

Do you regularly stop to say “Thank You” for a job well done? Do you acknowledge them when someone has gone the extra mile to help a fellow colleague or a client? Do your employees feel valued and appreciated for their efforts and commitment?

Reward systems work

Reward and recognition is a powerful way of encouraging the right kind of behaviour from your employees and to make your company an employer of choice. It’s one of the key elements that clearly distinguish the best from the rest. There are many ways to apply reward and recognition in the workplace and it does not have to cost you much. Here are some ideas of ways to reward or recognize your employees:

  • A gift or voucher

This can be for an experience like a massage or a voucher for the recipient to take his or her entire family out for supper.

  • A written thank you

We have found that a hand written note has the biggest effect. This could be given to the individual at work in front of his or her colleagues or sent via mail to their home. Alternatively it could be included in a flash email that is sent out to the entire organization. The most important thing is that you took the time to say “I saw that! It did not go unnoticed and it is appreciated.”

  • An increase, bonus or promotion

Increases and bonuses should always be performance related and it should be applied consistently throughout the entire organization. Be very careful that certain managers in your company do not give high scores more easily than others or give high scores for the wrong reasons.

Promotions should not be based on seniority, but on competency. Keep in mind that the fact that someone is good in a job as an expert and employee does not necessarily mean that the person will be an excellent supervisor or manager. Have a plan in place to advance experts within your organization without necessarily placing them in a managerial role.

  • Care

This aspect is about showing that you actually value your employees enough to be interested in them and really care about what interests them and what is going on in their lives. This can be done with a birthday card, flowers when they are in hospital, a gift when their baby is born and a sympathy card when they have lost a loved one.

These are small things that do not have to cost much. It makes a big difference receiving a sms to check how you are feeling when you are off sick at home with the measles versus your boss dropping your laptop off at your home, expecting you to work even though the doctor has booked you off. Not bothering your employees unnecessarily after hours also falls into this category.

  • Ask, Listen and Utilise

Asking for someone’s opinion, really listening to them and using their input where appropriate, shows that you value their point of view.

  • Trust

Showing that you trust someone to complete a project or take care of business while you are out of the office, without following up on them every five minutes, shows that you trust them and believe in their competency.

  • Training and development

Giving someone the opportunity to attend training and participate in projects for their own development (even if slightly outside of their current role) can be an excellent win-win reward for employees. It is wrong to waste a training opportunity on ‘dead wood’ in the organisation just because you can afford to have them out of the office for a day or two.

  • Awards

Having a system whereby an employee of the week or month is chosen, or the best performing team of the quarter is displayed and / or a trophy or certificate is awarded, can be a great way to recognize excellent performance.

  • Communication

Sharing information freely with employees and encouraging and participating in two-way communication is an incredibly important part of showing your employees that you value them.

  • Lucky draw

Let’s say you have a problem with some staff regularly arriving late. You can hold a lucky draw to reward one (or a few) of the people who have been at work on time the entire month.

  • Enable them to Pay It Forward

If you hold a random lucky draw it can also be with the requirement that the recipient spends the voucher in some way to do something nice with someone who has supported them at work in the last month or alternatively they can choose a fun activity for their entire department to enjoy together.

These things can do wonders to encourage teamwork within the organization. A variation of this is to let them choose a charity of their choice, for the business to support in some way or another.

  • Make their environment nice

As a reward for the achievement of a specific target, buy the big screen TV they have been wanting for the canteen area or the cuppachino machine for the kitchen. Alternatively give them a specific budgetary amount with which they can redecorate their office area to make it nice.

  • Being flexible and accommodating

If someone works through their lunch hour 90% of the time and then needs to take a two-hour lunch off site once or twice a year, accommodate this without demanding that they work in that extra hour. If someone is responsible and reliable, but needs to work from home for two days because their child is sick, be flexible to allow them to do that rather than making use of their family responsibility leave.

An effective reward and recognition system does not only include just one item from the above list, but combines multiple ways of acknowledging the hard work of your employees and showing them that you value and appreciate their efforts. Do not hesitate to ask your team what they would like as a reward (within a specific budget amount) once a specific target has been reached. The key to making a reward work is to offer what they value.

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So you want your employees to be more productive and creative? You need to let them goof off. Here’s why.


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+

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




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




“Sell your cleverness and purchase awe”


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


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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Managing Staff

5 Things To Do When An Employee’s Performance Deteriorates

It can be confusing and frustrating when a successful employee’s performance takes a nosedive. Intervene effectively using these five steps.

Liz Kislik




For all kinds of reasons, even longstanding, highly productive employees can experience a performance slump at some point. The Towers Watson Global Workforce study showed that up to 26 percent of workers surveyed said they felt disengaged, and another 17 percent felt detached.

As a founder, you may not always find an obvious way to get someone back on track, but the investment of energy you would need to turn this situation around is still so much less than what would be needed replace and train a new employee.

So, the upshot is that it only makes sense to figure out what’s going on and take action. Ready? These five approaches may help.

1. Ask explicitly if the employee is okay

And find out if there’s anything that you should know about instead of assuming you understand this individual’s current circumstances and reactions. Of course, it will help if you’re already aware of his or her personal situation.

Perhaps the employee is dealing with a new and challenging circumstance that’s distracting. In that case, it can help to share your evidence: “James, I was wondering if everything’s okay. I noticed that you stopped/started doing X, and I figured I’d better check in with you about it.”

At one of my clients’ companies, when a leader touched base with a staffer who had fallen below expectations, the woman explained that her dog had died, and she was grieving. Knowing her boss cared about her helped her refocus on her work.

2. Look for signs of stress and burnout


Burnout costs U.S. businesses as much as $300 billion each year, whether the reason is employees having had to absorb too many changes or the fact that they’ve just been plain old working too hard for too long.

A longtime administrator I knew was being criticised for her negativity, her self-pacing and  her avoidance of anything new. After some analysis, however, it became clear that there was more work than her team could handle. Once her team was staffed up and the new team members were reasonably up to speed, she started to recover her resilience and became more even-keeled.

Related: Why I Stopped Doing Annual Employee Reviews

3. Probe for changes in the employee’s job

Perhaps there are new problems with equipment, resources or information flows; maybe a major customer is giving the employee a hard time, or a manager is behaving differently in some way.

A CEO I work with was concerned about a downturn in an executive’s previously outstanding performance. We discussed how the employee had recently been assigned to lead a new initiative for which he did not have previous experience, although he was the best internal candidate. The CEO agreed that as soon as the new initiative could afford to pay for an experienced executive, the reassigned employee should return to the assignment where his performance had been consistently superior.

4. Describe your expectations for the employee’s performance


And talk about how the business, team or customers are affected when it’s lacking. Although up to 87 percent of employees in one survey reported by Strategy + Business said they wanted opportunities for development, only one-third reported actually receiving feedback to help them improve.

So, make sure you’re concrete and specific about both expectations and impacts. Ask what employees need from you or from others in the organisation to help them get back on track.

I had to give one senior leader excruciatingly detailed feedback, in areas from interpersonal dynamics to personal hygiene. It wasn’t pleasant for either of us, but until he was made aware of exactly what was disturbing to customers, there was no hope for improvement.

Related: How Diversity Drives Board Performance

5. Provide meaningful recognition

Employees in  a survey by the Cicero Group were three times more likely to choose recognition as the single factor most likely to motivate superior performance– over inspiration, autonomy and even pay.

Recognition doesn’t have to be expensive or even time-consuming. One leader I knew started using the daily standup meeting not just to review the progress of the work, but also to mention superior contributions and excellent performances. Not only did preparation for the daily meetings improve, but team members were eager to make contributions that could be noted.

In sum, even excellent performers can lose momentum or be stalled by circumstances from time to time. How to respond as the employer? Intervening early will help you feel optimistic about a positive outcome and give the employee involved the benefit of the doubt so you can demonstrate to staff the confidence you have in them and your willingness to provide support during a tough time.

Just don’t wait to do this: If you wait till you’re fed up with either the person or whatever’s going wrong, you’ll find it much harder to turn the situation around.

This article was originally posted here on

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