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Goodbye Performance Reviews, Hello Leadership Conversations

When it comes to annual performance reviews, there are five psychological obstacles that come into play, explains Vermaak.

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The way we’re working is changing. Recent research undertaken by The Human Edge, has found employees prefer continuous engagement with their managers, as opposed to once or twice a year engagement in performance reviews. “It’s time we seriously think about eradicating the outdated annual performance review,” says Helene Vermaak business director at The Human Edge.

“In fact, millennials [who according to Gallup. Inc will by the year 2020 make up 50% of the global work force] don’t understand why they must wait an entire year to learn how they’re performing on the job – they’re accustomed to instant gratification. They want and need daily feedback in real time and thus we need to be conducting leadership conversations.”

Continuous engagement between managers and employees is an absolute must. The Human Edge’s research found that the majority, 69%, of managers only engage once or twice a year in performance conversations, and only 38% of employees found the annual performance review a good return on their invested time.

When it comes to annual performance reviews, there are five psychological obstacles that come into play, explains Vermaak:

  1. Infrequent feedback – Timely feedback is more likely to be helpful and feel constructive, while delayed feedback seems more like an evaluation and criticism of past mistakes.
  2. Lack of clarity – Traditional annual reviews not only provide feedback too infrequently for it to be actionable, but their ratings and rankings are often too vague to help employees know how to improve their performance. A fundamental flaw in most annual performance reviews is that managers do not tailor them to reflect what they expect of each employee, and they do not help employees prioritise how to move forward.
  3. Manager bias – Ratings often reflect the manager’s often-unstated expectations and implicit bias.
  4. Adverse reactions to evaluation and feedback – When employees have a negative reaction to evaluation and feedback, they are unlikely to be motivated to perform better following their performance review. If this only occurs annually, it is a long wait before managers can counteract those negative feelings.
  5. Too much focus on pay and incentives – If workers feel that the evaluation system is inaccurate and unfair, they assume they will be paid and promoted unfairly as well.

Related: Year-End Reviews Are Not Always A Positive Experience

Vermaak adds that the performance review approach does not result in better employee retention, or improved employee satisfaction and there is not a better link between performance and pay. So, we know that everyone comes to work wanting to do a good job, and you can help people do this, says Vermaak, by:

  • Giving clear direction and priorities
  • Agreeing on the performance standard expected
  • Identifying support and development to help
  • Keeping in touch and providing feedback on progress regularly

Managing is done minute-to-minute in a series of conversations. More specifically, Vermaak describes five Leadership Conversations that drive performance and strengthen employee relationships:

  1. Goal setting and expectation clarification – The purpose of this conversation is to have a dialogue that focuses the person on exactly what needs to be done, by when, how the manager will measure success, and when and how regularly the manager should follow up and provide feedback. All good performance begins with mutually created, clear and compelling goals.
  2. Progress review, re-directing and feedback – This conversation should ensure that employees are clear about the work they need to do and what qualifies as successful. It should create a shared understanding of what needs to be done today, tomorrow, next week and into the future. Managers and employees should collaborate to determine performance expectations based on the employee’s abilities, aspirations and developmental needs. Together, they should clearly identify performance targets and determine the most important objectives to prioritise. Managers should help employees understand why their role exists and how their role expectations align with team and organisational objectives.
  3. Quick connects – Managers should assess quickly how an employee is doing and identify successes and barriers.
  4. Formal review (wrapping-up conversations) – Formal reviews of progress on goals, expectations and planning for future opportunities. This conversation should focus on celebrating accomplishments and discussing any new knowledge or skills gained during the process.
  5. Developmental and career aspirations – This conversation should focus on strengths and talents, opportunities for growth, learning and development and innovation and continuous improvement.

Related: Peak Performance: Multiply Personal And Team Business Performance

Vermaak offers five tips for positive leadership conversations:

  1. Operate from a FACTS base
  2. Ensure PSYCHOLOGICAL SAFETY
  3. Emphasise MUTUAL PURPOSE
  4. Works towards JOINT SOLUTIONS
  5. Document WHO will do WHAT, by WHEN, how will we MEASURE, FOLLOW UP and give FEEDBACK

Visit The Human Edge website for more information

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Entrepreneur Today

Global Guide For Entrepreneurs, Innovators Launches In Johannesburg

Startup Guide partners with SAP Next-Gen, Tshimologong Precinct to bring global guidebook to Johannesburg innovation ecosystem; calls for nominations.

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Calling all entrepreneurs, accelerators, innovators, co-working spaces and experts in the City of Gold: Startup Guide, the leading global guide for start-ups in high-growth innovation hubs in Europe, the US and Middle East, is open to nominations in Johannesburg.

Founded in 2014, Startup Guide is a creative content and publishing company that produces guidebooks and tools to help entrepreneurs to connect to communities and resources in the leading start-up cities around the world. Its global footprint covers some of the most innovative and thriving start-up ecosystems in the US, Europe and the Middle East, including those of London, New York, Berlin, Tel Aviv, and Stockholm. After launching in Cape Town earlier in the year, Startup Guide now moves to Johannesburg.

According to Sissel Hansen, Founder and CEO of Startup Guide, South Africa’s largest city is emerging as a key innovation hub for start-ups.

“Johannesburg has recently emerged as a growing ecosystem for start-ups and entrepreneurs in Africa, particularly in the tech industry. We’re thrilled to have the opportunity to create a comprehensive guide of resources for aspiring founders wanting to do business in South Africa’s largest city.”

Startup Guide Johannesburg was launched at Wits University’s Tshimologong Precinct, one of Johannesburg’s newest high-tech addresses in the vibrant inner-city district of Braamfontein. Tshimologong, which means “new beginnings” in Setswana, focuses on the incubation of digital entrepreneurs, commercialisation of research and the development of high-level digital skills for students, working professionals and unemployed youth. Lesley Williams, CEO of Tshimologong Precinct, says: “South Africa is fast-becoming a go-to source for innovation, especially in the tech sector. We believe the introduction of a dedicated resource for the startup ecosystem in Johannesburg will unlock significant opportunities for innovation hubs such as ours to more easily connect with entrepreneurs, experts and other roleplayers, ultimately providing a more supportive environment for growth.”

Related: Watch List: 50 Top SA Black Entrepreneurs To Watch

Startup Guide has partnered with SAP Next-Gen, a purpose driven innovation university and community for the SAP ecosystem enabling companies, partners and universities to connect and innovate with purpose linked to the UN Sustainable Goals for Development. Ann Rosenberg, Senior Vice President and Head of Global SAP Next-Gen says:

“We strive to connect digital innovators in an open innovation community to drive the future success and growth of industries through the use of technology. As we have witnessed in other high-innovation cities around the world, the introduction of knowledge resources – supported by opportunities for collaboration and partnership in an open ecosystem – enhances the overall success of entire start-up communities. Johannesburg’s world-famous energy and business acumen will greatly benefit from the launch of Startup Guide Johannesburg and the support of industry partners, including SAP Next-Gen and the Tshimologong Precinct.”

Cathy Smith, Managing Director of SAP Africa, adds that the partnership with Startup Guide aligns well with the company’s commitment to the UN Sustainable Development Goals. “As an organisation we are committed to achieving the high ambitions set out by the SDGs. However, it is virtually impossible to do so alone: the concept of partnership with likeminded purpose-driven organisations and initiatives is vital not only to realising the SDGs but to foster a greater and more inclusive innovation ecosystem in Johannesburg and across the African continent.”

Nominations for the Johannesburg edition of Startup Guide are now open. If you know a start-up, entrepreneur, programme, space, accelerator, or experts and would like to see them featured in the book, please visit https://startupguide.com/shop/startup-guide-johannesburg and submit your nomination.

Visit the SAP News Center. Follow SAP on Twitter at @sapnews.

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Aspirations For SMMEs In South Africa

Research released earlier this year, revealed that there are only 250 000 formal SMMEs in South Africa.

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Entrepreneurs who have started up a business over the past 10 years have done so in an environment that has been largely negative, with slow economic growth and an unstable political landscape. “So, all in all, a very difficult setting to launch, grow or even maintain a business,” says Bizmod MD, Anne-Marie Pretorius.

Pretorius says that many entrepreneurs who operate in South Africa can be forgiven for often wondering if the slog is worth it. Yet they continue – despite economic uncertainty, strikes, retrenchments and downscaling.  “It is this tenacity that sets entrepreneurs apart, and I often wonder how much more successful they would be in an easier and more supportive environment.”

Below, Pretorius shares her ideal pro-entrepreneur outlook for the future:

  • Greater policy certainty on all key government policies from land reform to regulations surrounding labour broking.
  • Being able to do away with bad policy faster. An example of where this did not happen was in the changes of visa requirements; leading to an unnecessary dent in our tourism industry, an industry that should be targeted for growth.
  • Lower compliance requirements for companies with a turnover under R50 million. The cost of compliance for smaller enterprises is significantly higher in comparison to their income and the cash they have available. Smaller companies need simpler frameworks where compliance is required. A portal similar to SARS e-filing, which makes compliance across various pieces of legislation clear and simple, would be ideal.
  • The Labour Relations Act is a key piece of legislation that has done a lot to protect the rights of the employee. It has attempted to balance the power relationship between employee and employer. Some innovation is however required in labour practices, allowing for mutually beneficial flexible working relationships that keep pace with the changing work environment.
  • Buy small, buy South African! A framework whereby large corporations and government would have to allocate a certain minimum percentage to buying from smaller local companies. There are encouraging signs that this is happening more, however this is still not an ingrained practice. In addition, consumers should be more informed on what items are South African produced, in order for them to be encouraged to purchase locally.
  • Easier access to funds enabling entrepreneurs to grow their businesses. There are currently a few options available, but all of the options require significant governance and red tape. Whilst this is understandable from the lenders perspective, it does hamper the agility and growth of companies.
  • Make good financial governance aspirational, attractive and easily accessible.
  • The process for tenders to be corruption free and fair, enabling more companies to add value.
  • Pay SMME’s on 30 days or less. Enormous pressure exists on smaller companies when not paid on time. They simply do not have the cash flow to carry a debtor’s book of 90 days and this inevitably hampers their growth.
  • Tax SMME’s at a lower tax rate. Profit tax should be lowered in order to drive entrepreneurship.
  • Creating a platform that makes it simpler to employ young individuals with potential and create support programmes for SMMEs to upskill them. There is a significant financial and time investment required to train a young person, which can make SMME’s sometimes wary to do so.

“If we are able to make only some of these ideals a reality, there is no doubt that we would see economic growth, entrepreneurial growth, and more employment opportunities,” concludes Pretorius.

Related: A – Z Easy Small Business Ideas

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South African Students Win R50 000 In The Universities Business Challenge

Students from Mangosuthu University of Technology beat 500 students from 13 different universities across South Africa.

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The Overlings from Mangosuthu University of Technology are the 2018 winners of Cognity Advisory’s Universities Business Challenge (UBC), sponsored by General Electric (GE). The winning team of four students are walking away with R50,000 to turn their business idea into reality.

Launched in July this year, the UBC has seen 500 students from 13 different universities across South Africa participate in a business simulation competition designed to develop entrepreneurship skills.

When the competition launched, all teams were challenged to form virtual companies and to virtually manufacture and sell bicycles.

The final 10 teams were from the University of Limpopo, Mangosuthu University of Technology, Vaal University of Technology, University of KwaZulu-Natal and North-West University.

During the two-day final, the teams played six rounds of simulations. Each simulation gave the teams a chance to re-evaluate their progress and better certain areas that needed improving. The winning team realised during one of their simulations that in order to maximise profits they would need to introduce two new products and market it differently from their initial product. They paid special attention to their customer’s needs. 

The aim of the UBC was designed to tackle South Africa’s high level of youth unemployment. Statistics South Africa (Stats SA) announced that South Africa’s official unemployment rate increased by 0.3 of a percentage point to 27.5% in the third quarter of 2018.

Nkosinathi Sokhulu from the winning team said, “Even though we didn’t have a great presentation we made the most profit. This experience taught us a lot about ourselves and business. Most of the decisions that we made came from serious debates. We learnt that market research is crucial when starting a business. We learnt that marketing starts and ends with the customer.”

Related: 20 South African Side-Hustles You Can Start This Weekend

“Based on this market research information we realised that it was important for us to introduce two new products and this, in addition to the main product we were selling, helped us to maximise profits. We saw an opportunity to add more products and it paid off” said Mbali Tshozi.

Tope Toogun, development advisor and CEO of Cognity Advisory said, “All the teams showed tremendous promise and I was very impressed by their levels of engagement with one another and their tenacity.”

“We really want to ensure that students are equipped with the necessary skills to not only start a business but to run it effectively. While we have selected one winner, our hope is that each team has benefitted by having learned the skills needed in the workplace.”

“The competition is designed to develop the ‘soft skills’ that are important for those wanting to set up their own business or simply be successful at work. With rising unemployment and ongoing talent shortages, having these skills is crucial for those wanting to get a job.”

The UBC, now in its second year in South Africa, will continue into its third year in 2019 and will run as the Africa Enterprise Challenge (AEC).

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