Inhibiting your employees’ sense of purpose – in a static, go nowhere environment – is a sure-fire way to obliterate any sense of team morale or job satisfaction. It’s the death knell for productivity and overall profitability for any business. You feel compelled to grow your business; why shouldn’t your employees feel compelled to grow as individuals? That’s why we can think of no better way to improve your business’s bottom line than to improve the skills of your employees.

Upskilling your employees not only boosts productivity by instilling confidence, making employees less reliable on external resources and generally allowing for more work to be done, but promotes business growth and employee satisfaction. These are all indicators of a successful business. But what so many employers and entrepreneurs so often get wrong is the types of skill enhancement they focus on, ultimately achieving a poor ROI (return on investment).

With a business to worry about, frivolously spending resources on skills transference will only put you in the red. You need to be strategic about how you provision training and focus on achieving tangible results from your investments. That’s why skills enhancement should always begin with a good induction for new employees, not just because it requires very little in the way of expenditure but goes a long way to establishing the right attitude and work ethic in employees from the get-go.

A formalised, structured induction will let employees know what is expected of them and establishes the short-term skills necessary to start working immediately. Crucially, it should assist in preparing new employees for the culture of their new workplace – acclimatising them and assisting their integration into new teams.

Another fairly cost effective but potentially very beneficial consideration is to focus skills enhancement initiatives on an employee’s weaknesses, as opposed to concentrating on what they’re interested in or already good at. Employees will naturally educate themselves in the fields that interest them. But supplement that by encouraging them to subscribe to relevant content like webinars or seminars, read more about their interests, and spend free time researching those topics.

Working on their weaknesses and ironing out the pain points that inhibit optimal productivity means generating a potentially huge ROI. Solving problems by eliminating their cause rather than attending to the symptoms is a far more productive, efficient way to go about your day. Compliment this practice by identifying future supervisors and leaders and give them the tools necessary to fill those positions within their teams. If they’re effectively able to communicate and lead a team, they will be able to put out fires – should they occur – without you needing to step in.

Modern businesses are increasingly flexible, innovative and adjustable to meet new customer demands, or alternatively, disrupt the market with entirely new products or services. Rather than outsourcing those skills, incentivise employees who take on those new responsibilities with soft skills that might benefit their new position, then ultimately promote them to a permanent role. As skills investments go, it’s going to directly affect your bottom line, improving productivity and preventing reliance on external, often far costlier, skills.

There are other relatively inexpensive methods of skills transference worth considering. One-on-one mentoring, for example, lets new and junior level employees have close working relationships with more experienced staff members. It doesn’t even have to be a formal program. All that is required is a commitment to set aside some time each week or month to provide feedback, assist with decision-making and direction, and offer general support and encouragement. Think of it as an extension of onboarding.

Perhaps the most effective solution to permanent skills enhancement is creating a workplace culture that encourages learning. Because it requires relatively little monetary investment, it affords an optimal ROI.

A continuous program of ongoing skills development is a popular choice because it means catering your spend to adjust to what’s required from employees on the fly – a flexibility that should match your business. Remember that skills quickly become obsolete in the modern digital era, and front loading your employees with an impressive list of skills, while certainly beneficial, is costly and may eventually prove pointless if they aren’t always put to use.

In the end, it’s all about effective communication – that you communicate with your staff as much as they want to communicate with you. That way you get a sense of what is required while they’re updated on what is expected and, together, you can fill in the holes with appropriate skills. It means building the right attitudes, encouraging leaders to step forward and boosts team morale by encouraging collaboration – something that mentorship will echo.

By Pieter Scholtz – leading business and executive coach and South Africa’s Co-Master Licensee for global franchise company, ActionCOACH

With skills in short supply and the level of unemployment in South Africa rising, the issue of how best to manage people in business continues to gain traction. Aspects like leave and leave policy often makes the critical difference as to whether a business can retain talent or not.

The various forms of leave accrual, and entitlements as set out in the Basic Conditions of Employment Act (BCEA), provide for the minimum – however no limit is placed on maximum amounts which a business may decide to make available to employees.

However, they should remain within the confines of objectivity, consistency, transparency, ethical practice and good governance – or risk becoming subject to discrimination and complaints of unfair labour practice.

This is the reality of the market today, says Nicol Myburgh, head of HR Business Unit at HR and HCM specialist services provider CRS Technologies.

Myburgh explains that the four main types of statutory leave are enacted in the BCEA; including annual leave, sick leave, family responsibility leave and maternity leave, but these do not in any way limit additional leave types and entitlements which the employer may wish to offer – such as study leave, paternity leave, cultural leave and marriage leave.

“It should be noted that even though employers may offer the above additional leave types at their own discretion they should have appropriate reasons for approving or declining the applications or they could be at risk of having an unfair labour practice or a discrimination complaint leveled against them,” says Myburgh.

Another challenge facing most businesses is how best to manage issues such as accrued leave, leave encashment and additional paid leave.

As CRS Technologies explains, accrued Leave is the amount of leave time that an employee has accrued as per the BCEA, Bargaining Council, Sectoral Determination, Company Policy or any other reason recognised by legislation, but which has not yet been used or paid. This is a financial liability for the employer.

In terms of the BCEA the accrual of leave is only applicable to annual leave, the employee is entitled to 15 working days per annum on full pay. The Act states “21 consecutive days” and reference to a calendar will show that 21 consecutive days equals 15 working days based on a 5-day week, or 18 working days based on a 6-day week. ‘Consecutive’ means that an employee has an entitlement to take the accrued leave in successive days.

“This doesn’t mean that an employee immediately has 15 days leave due to him/her from the first day of employment, this leave has to be accrued before it comes due and it is accrued by a simple formula, as follows: 15 days divided by 12 months’ equals 1.25 days leave accrued per month. In other words, this leave is only available to the employee once it has been accrued,” Myburgh advises.

However, as CRS Technologies explains, other statutory leave types become immediately available, with two variations, during the first 6 months of employment – sick leave, which is accrued at one day paid sick leave for every 26 days worked, where after the employee’s full entitlement becomes available and is not subject to accrual. Family Responsibility Leave becomes available after 4 months of employment.

Leave encashment

Leave Encashment is a term used to describe what is in effect the selling of one’s leave and amounts being paid out for the financial value of leave days.

“The BCEA is quite clear on this based on section 21, employers may not pay workers instead of granting leave, except on termination of employment,” says Myburgh.

However, many companies do still encash leave without terminations taking place. In terms of the BCEA this is not allowed, or is it?

“Yes, within certain conditions it is allowed,” says Myburgh. “The BCEA makes provision for minimum leave entitlements either 15 or 18 paid days depending on 5 or 6-day work weeks. If, as per company policy, employment contract or mutual agreement, an employee receives a leave entitlement larger than the minimum, it is not regulated by the BCEA because this is a benefit over and above what is provided by the BCEA.”

This means that additional paid leave over and above the statutory minimum, can be regulated by the company policy, and may be paid out.
The MEIBC provides for additional paid leave over and above the minimum entitlement provided for by the BCEA.

For Myburgh and colleagues at CRS Technologies, the issue of leave management in general is one that many businesses will have to grapple with as staff satisfaction and retention are major issues in the digital age.

Alternatively, those that are intent on growth and for whom issues like digitisation and agility remain challenges, will have to come to terms with and understand these issues thoroughly if they are to successfully evolve.

Getting the word out

Any business owner would love to have their business mentioned in the media. That is why many hire public relations agencies or have their own in-house PR professional. But if you need to do it yourself, here are six tips that are (almost) guaranteed to score you press coverage.

Pick your target
Target a specific publication or journalist with a corresponding area of interest. By appealing to a writer’s existing passion point, you’re far likelier to get a foot in the door. If you’re not sure where to start, head to Google – a simple topic search will quickly reveal the names of journalists who regularly cover it.
Dive a little deeper by trawling through their Twitter accounts, identifying views and areas of interest, and crafting your story to appeal to these.

Offer exclusives
By offering your story as an exclusive, you have a far greater chance of success. Rather than emailing your pitch, give the editor a call and ask for their input upfront, so that you can expertly craft your story in line with their suggestions. That way, you’ll ensure that when your story arrives in their inbox, they’re expecting it.

Work the calendar
It might feel contrived to use occasions like Valentine’s Day and Christmas to score coverage for your brand, but the reality is that journalists are hard pressed for seasonally-specific content over these periods.
For instance, if you’re a property brand, you might want to consider an article focusing on tips for couples looking to buy their first home together.

Another way is to request a copy of your targeted publication’s editorial calendar, which will identify the topics to be covered over the course of the year. By writing a story specifically for a planned feature, you have a good chance of success.

Team effort
Whilst being credited as the sole purveyor of expert insight in an article is undoubtedly first prize for any business, the reality is that journalists prefers an unbiased story with multiple sources.

By pitching a story angle and offering up multiple spokespeople able to add further insight, you are making a journalist’s life easier by basically doing their job for them.

Yes, you might have to share the headlines with one of your rivals, but by positioning yourself as a collaborative force, you’ll better position your business to be seen by the right types of readers, and start establishing your brand as a go-to source of industry insight.

Curate local content
Journalists in Africa are starved of local statistics, having to rely heavily on facts and figures from abroad to substantiate their stories. As such, local research findings are highly sought after by media outlets, so if you can supply your own, you’ll be able to get positive media coverage. It will also help to establish you as a credible, well-respected industry leader.

Use the news to your advantage
By keeping close tabs on current events and providing stories in line with a topic currently occupying the news agenda, you’ll be in a great position to score some high impact wins.

For instance, with the Rio 2016 Olympics around the corner, and you just so happen to be a security company, you can give safety tips to those attending the Summer Olympics. There you’ve got the perfect angle to hook your story on.

Time is money

The Basic Conditions of Employment Act (BCEA) sets the fundamental conditions of service for all employment situations, ranging from the domestic to, with variations, the industrial.

When it comes to hours worked per week in business, particularly overtime, the BCEA is precise – the maximum normal working time allowed is 45 hours per week, any overtime is voluntary and may only be worked in agreement between employer and employee.

Nicol Myburgh, head of HR Business Unit at CRS Technologies, an HR and HCM specialist services provider, offers a broad perspective on the matter and the company’s view, which, as he explains, is only a guideline.

Myburgh says there are terms and conditions that have to be taken into consideration – including the fact that the above regulation excludes lunch breaks. “Lunch breaks are, by law, not defined as working time and will therefore be unpaid,” and does not mean the employee must work 45 hours per week normal time.

“The normal working hours are determined by mutual agreement between employee and employer, in this aspect the act only provides the maximum limit of 45 hours, and does not mean the employee MUST work 45 hours per week normal time. The statutory limitation of 45 hours per week means that the employee may not work more than 45 hours per week normal time,” says Myburgh.

As CRS Technologies explains all overtime is voluntary and may only be worked by agreement between employer and employee.

Labour legislation is also clear on overtime, defined as time worked in excess of the normal working hours. “The maximum permissible overtime is three hours per day or 10 hours per week. The employee must be paid at one and a half times his/her normal wage rate except for Sunday work and work on public holidays, which must be paid at twice the normal wage rate. The employees aren’t necessarily paid for overtime, instead by mutual agreement, they can be granted time off in lieu of payment calculated by the same formula mentioned above,” Myburgh continues.

By mutual agreement

However, this segment of the law is only applicable to employees earning below the earnings threshold, as determined by the Minister, and is currently R205 433,30.

As CRS Technologies executives explain, overtime payment or time off in lieu thereof for employees earning above this threshold is not compulsory, but rather a mutual agreement between employer and employee.

Employees earning above the threshold for overtime who are not compensated by employers have the right to refuse to participate in overtime work.

While it is true that each industry has its own variations and is governed by specific dynamics, legislation regulating overtime is applicable irrespective.

“No employee may work more than 45 hours per week normal time and the no employee may work more than 10 hours per week overtime. However, while the BCEA sets the fundamental minimum rules, there are legislated variations based on sectoral or industry operational requirements. A sectoral determination, a Bargaining Council Main agreement or a union agreement, etc. may bring about variations on the conditions mentioned above since these documents are viewed as extensions of the act. These are known as delegated legislation,” says Myburgh.

CRS Technologies refers to the security industry as an example.

The company explains that Sectoral Determination 6: Private Security Sector, regulates among other conditions the maximum normal working hours to 48 hours per week for a security officer.

“and the Metal and Engineering Industries Bargaining Council regulates the conditions for employees operating in the industry, among other conditions the ordinary hours of work shall not exceed 40 in any one week for employees on day shift and/or night shift or employees working on the two and/or three-shift system,” Myburgh explains.

A further example is the retail industry, where overtime provisions allow for extended shopping hours.

Sometimes knowing when to start again is the best thing you can do as a budding entrepreneur. ActionCOACH’s Pieter Scholtz discusses using a failed business idea as a platform for success.

To be a truly successful jockey, you’re going to have ride a lot of horses. There’s no way to tell how well a horse will compete on race day until it’s on the track – and by then, what you thought would end in success, might be headed for a fall. It can be the same for entrepreneurs. Few have an idea that is an immediate success – and some simply never get out of the gate, no matter how passionate or rambunctious an entrepreneur you are.

It’s a hard reality to face, but facing that failure and learning from it is crucial if you’re still going to make a success of yourself. See, a successful business should not be your ultimate goal; instead, it’s a means to an end. Your goal should be to fulfil your aspirations – to live a comfortable life, or retire to a beach house on the coast. So when something isn’t working in your business, the trick is not to abandon the sport, but to find a new horse. But how do you know when it’s time?

Reassessing your business model
The first step is to re-articulate your business model – to flesh it out on paper and really think it over. Ask yourself: Is what you’re offering merely a copy of a service or product offered by a competitor, or is it a genuine innovation? If it’s the former, it’s time to call it quits. Moderately better goods and services as well as price-cutting doesn’t work, at least not in the long term. However, if you believe you’ve got something that will truly disrupt the market place, then you should keep at it.

Once you’ve established that, it’s time to take a look at the value proposition of your business. If your stakeholders, business partners or customers are left pondering your business’ existence, it’s time to throw in the towel. Innovative or not, a business will never see profitability if it cannot improve the lives of its customers, or solve their problems.

Just be sure not to let your risk overshadow the return possible. When expenses continue to flow out and there simply aren’t measures in place to prevent your capital from steadily declining, the risk is too high. You can usually tell because running your business has become a lot scarier than it is fun.

If you truly believe you have something of value to offer, but you’re repeatedly failing to meet short-term goals, then it’s time to ask a business coach for assistance. Whether you’re a veteran business owner who’s lost customer interest or a startup who’s failed to capture the market’s imagination, continually amending poor projections is a bad sign. The advice of an experienced coach could be exactly what you needed.

A failed business does not mean the entrepreneur has failed
If your current business is all but guaranteed to fail, what you need to do is to fail fast and fail cheap. When it looks like it’s not working, it helps to be agile, to quickly adapt and take another crack at the market, or perhaps, a new market altogether.
Learn from your failure, identify a model that will generate revenue and focus on building that new business model. Pumping more capital into a failing business will not suddenly make it profitable. Instead, as the jockey, you need to find a new, faster, better horse.

Patience is a virtue
It’s worth mentioning that starving yourself should never be a part of the plan. It sounds obvious at first, but you’d be surprised by what a determined, budding entrepreneur will give up to fulfil their dream. Always remember that failing cheap also refers to putting your mental health and well-being first. Sticking with a sinking ship will only alienate your employees, friends and family, and your morale and confidence will eventually succumb to the pressure.

That includes taking care of yourself while you re-evaluate the market place. Just because you’re in the planning stages of a second, or even third attempt at a business, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t eat. Have some work to fall back on while you plan your new business. Yes, it will likely slow you down a little, but patience and preparedness is key. Urgency may mean missing the right angle of attack – a death knell to your next business, before it even starts.
Remember to ask yourself the hard questions: Why do I believe my business will succeed? What am I willing to sacrifice to make it work? And to really commit to it. To sacrifice it all for your business – especially if its plan isn’t clear – is to put the horse before the jockey, which doesn’t make a lot of sense.

According to an article from the World Economic Forum, 35% of the skills that are crucial in today’s workforce will have changed by the year 2020.

The emerging Fourth Industrial Revolution – characterised by an exponential increase in various digital and cyber technologies – will be in full swing.

The rise of smart machines and systems, our computational world, new media ecology, superstructure organisations and the reality of globalisation, are all key factors driving this era. Your current job may cease to exist; new jobs will grow in its place, and currently nonexistent jobs will become the norm.

The question is: how do you ensure your skillset is aligned with the pace of the future’s workforce?

A recent IDC survey, commissioned by Microsoft, shed some light on this question – identifying that although technical skills are valuable, employers of the future will place greater importance on soft skills:

Check out five of the soft skills you’ll need to impress your employer with in 2025, and how you can master them for maximum impact:

Social intelligence
Employers value this skill today and will value it even more in the future: the ability to adapt your behaviour to accommodate various styles of communication, different strengths and weaknesses, and a multitude of personalities.

If you’re in a position of leadership or looking to move into one in the future, this will be a key competency to develop.

Cross-cultural competency
Linked to social intelligence is the capacity to function in a multicultural setting – a soft skill which will be key for working in a world where globalisation is here to stay.

This means you’ll need to be able to adapt the way you communicate, collaborate and interact with people across cultures, as well as work with varying cultural beliefs, time schedules, and nuances. How will you identify, understand and accommodate different cultures in your future work environment?

Speak a universal language of visual communication – this is translatable across language and cultural barriers, so use images or video, as a way to train employees, or educate others in your workspace.
Ask your current co-workers questions – take the time to learn basic words, phrases and gestures from other cultures in an effort to identify with people you may work with in the future.
Make the effort to educate – cultivate an environment of learning, where you transfer the cultural knowledge you have acquired to those you work with. Maybe even teach your boss a thing or two.

New media literacy
As you might be aware, video and audio content are becoming even more prominent when it comes to the exchange of information. Within the next five years it will be even more present, in a wider range of industries. Whether your role currently has a direct relation to these forms of media or not, your ability to consume and understand visual content is going to be a highly desirable skill to your future employer.

Virtual collaboration
Globalisation has resulted in workplaces coexisting in different countries and time zones, meaning it’s almost impossible to have everyone in the same room. In fact, a survey of business leaders at the Global Leadership Summit in London found that 34% of executives said more than half their company’s full-time employees would be working remotely in 2020. And that number is only going to increase.

The only way to solve this problem is by using technology to communicate and collaborate. Virtual collaboration is here to stay, which means you need to be able to continue to engage and encourage productivity with a virtual team in the same way that you would if everyone was in the same building.

Master this soft skill by using tools like Google Docs, Skype, Time Doctor, Basecamp, Slack and Trello.

The ability to self-direct
The use of outsourcing, freelancers and telecommuting will increase in future workplaces, making it impossible to supervise every employee. What does this mean for you? You’ll need to know how to self-direct. This involves increased responsibility, being self-disciplined and accountable, making important decisions on your own, keeping your cool under pressure, and a high level of self-awareness.

In a study by Green Peak Partners and Cornell University on what determines executive success, it was noted that high self-awareness was the “strongest predictor of overall success.”

One popular way to develop this self-awareness is through an examination of the 6 leadership styles proposed by Daniel Goleman, in his publication: Leadership That Gets Results.

From robots to virtual reality, the future workspace may be nothing like we could ever imagine today.

But as founder of Google, Larry Page says, “Lots of companies don’t succeed over time. What do they fundamentally do wrong? They usually miss the future. I try to focus on that: What is the future really going to be? And how do we create it? And how do we power our organisation to really focus on that and really drive it at a high rate?”

As long as you’re willing to future-proof the way you approach your work, interact with people, and embrace technologies, you’ll have no problem keeping up with the changes to come – and make a massive impression on your future boss while you do.


Reaching targets isn’t the only, or even the biggest, challenge facing today’s workplace leaders.
The most difficult ones often relate to managing people and optimising their work environment to encourage every team member’s best performance.
After all, numbers don’t respond to your Monday blues, but people do.
Managers are responsible for time management, decision-making, team-building and managing a multi-generational workforce.
Regardless of whether you’re planning a move into management or you’ve already been there a while, learn from these common managerial errors to avoid making your own in the future.

1. Static thinking
A promotion to management means your job responsibilities shift away from being the chief technical contributor and move into the realm of managing the success of others through their own technical abilities.
Here two common mistakes are made: the first relating to holding on to the role you’ll leave, and the second to the one you’ll move into.
In terms of the role just left, what many managers do wrong is retain a “technical expert” mind-set instead of adjusting to more of a “coaching” one. They continue to execute at the same time that they attempt to lead.
The result? Twice the work, half the impact, and the infamous micromanagement phrase: “just let me do that for you”.
The same “technical expert” mind-set accompanied by the move into unknown territory results in leading out of fear – fear that the technical skills of team members will soon rival the new manager’s, as focus shifts to coaching rather than execution.
This, of course, is not true, as management requires a very different set of skills to those of technical roles.

How to avoid it
Make a conscious effort to shift your thinking to a coaching mind-set. The first step is being aware that it’s necessary, and after that it’s down to how much you’re willing to learn, both on the job and outside of it. There are plenty of books on leadership to choose from if you want to accelerate your experience outside of working hours.
On the job and outside of educational material: observe, learn and adjust. Identify a mentor – a leader you can mirror – and pay close attention to how they deal with similar challenges to your own. On top of that, trust your team to execute while you guide them to do their best work.

2. Undefined goals
When you’re on the ground, it can be difficult to see all the way to the top. And that’s exactly what some managers fail to do – show their team what it looks like up there.
Think about it: how would you feel if you knew you had somewhere to get to, but didn’t even know where that place was? Anxious, stressed, confused, unmotivated? That’s how team members feel when they don’t know the impact of their own contribution, or the end-goal they’re aiming for.
The definition of success differs from company to company and, despite the obvious monetary indicators, is not always easy to define. The manager’s job is to define overall and individual goals clearly so that the team has a definite idea of what they’re chasing, and how they’re going to achieve it.

How to avoid it
Start with a clear definition of what the overarching company goals are. Filter those down into your own priorities, and into the broader goals of your entire team. Once you’re there, you can start to define how each individual contributes in their own capacity, and set priorities and targets for team members that align along a clear path, all the way to the top.

Reminding your team of why they do what they do gives them a strong sense of motivation and purpose. It also allows you to hold them accountable for achieving those goals, because they understand the impact of their work and the detriment that not carrying out their responsibilities could have on both company targets and the ability of others to work.
Ask yourself and your team how each individual objective affects the overall goal? How does each role inform the other? What is the result of good work, and the cost of non-performance?

3. Not knowing the team
Motivating a team requires not only that you ensure individuals are aware of how their work impacts broader company goals, but also understanding, supporting and encouraging them in ways that are relevant to their unique personalities.

What some managers fail to do is make a concerted effort to really get to know team members on a personal level. They focus instead on optimising productivity through task management and success incentives because it’s easier and less time-consuming.

They fail to realise that the most powerful approach to managing people is by being human and connecting on a person-to-person level. Figuring out what works and what doesn’t for every team member is the ultimate way to optimise efficiency.

How to avoid it
Firstly, don’t hide behind the convenience of technology, like e-mail or a task management system – prioritise face-to-face interactions.
A simple way to do this is to have short team check-ins at your desks every morning. This is a space where team members can report on their wins, losses and current challenges, as well as what they’ll be focusing on that day. It’s a great way to get a sense of what’s going on, and what problems need to be solved.
Setting up a weekly meeting for each team member will allow you to have valuable one-on-one time.
These meetings allow you to check in on how every individual is coping; give feedback on their performance; allow for feedback on your own performance; and allows you to develop a unique relationship with each person.

4. Being reactive
For many, it’s a natural reaction to want to solve a problem as it appears, but this reactivity can be detrimental if not focused.
A mistake made especially by new managers is to work long hours responding immediately to crises, instead of setting time aside to think strategically about what they need to achieve so that they can focus on what’s most important and respond appropriately.
Every time a challenge is experienced by a team member, the manager quickly springs into action to clear the path. Although this might earn the immediate approval of your team, misdirected action will be detrimental in the long run.

How to avoid it
“Think of yourself as one of your managed people,” says Lindsey Pollak, author of the leadership book Becoming the Boss. As much as you need to spend time on your team to make sure they’re able to perform at the highest level, you also need to spend time on yourself to coax out your best performance.
Make time to prioritise and strategise. Proactively planning ahead means you’ll not only be able to anticipate potential problems, but allows you to be less reactive in the future because you know to respond immediately only to top priority issues.

5. Only managing downwards
In the same way that undefined goals can cloud a team’s view of the top, exclusively downwards management limits the team’s upwards influence.
Sometimes, managers fail to realise the value of extending their influence into positions above their own. Leaders at higher levels must be convinced of the legitimacy of your perspective (which aligns to your team’s goals) so that those below you can benefit too.
The mistake here happens one of two ways: either, the manager attempts to join the ranks of colleagues in higher leadership positions and so comes across as being “above the team”, or believes they are too far below people in higher positions to have any impact.

How to avoid it
Learn to manage up as well as down. While the way you talk and interact with those in higher positions to your own will differ from how you interact with your team, the end-goal is the same: draw optimum value from both.

When managing up, you may have to adopt a more formal tone, but doing things like referring to shared goals, talking up the skills of your own team, and humanising team members to those who aren’t as familiar with them as you are, are all ways you can extend your team’s influence to the upper echelons of your organisation.

6. Attitude
Remaining calm, positive and upbeat can often be the most tiring responsibility of a manager, and an area where many fall short. A manager’s attitude can determine whether people feel anything from relaxed and motivated, to tense and pressured.
The mistake many managers make here is responding with emotion to the actions of those they’re leading. Whether it’s in reaction to an opinionated comment, below-par work or even the detrimental attitude of a team member, managers are consistently faced with the challenge of maintaining composure and handling every situation in a fair, calculated and professional manner.
If you’re wondering why team morale is low, take a hard look at your own approach to work.

How to avoid it
Unless people believe something is possible, they won’t create conditions for success, and only you, as a leader, can maintain their belief. You have to be the face of possibility.

It’s important to think about the desired environment you want to create, and be an example of that environment so that others identify with its merits and buy in to the associated behaviour.

7.  Treating money as motivation

If you really know your team, you’ll likely find that money isn’t the only way to motivate them – and sometimes it may even be the wrong way.
Many managers make the common error of assuming that team members do the work they do purely for the monetary rewards. In some cases, this may be true, but for the majority of the time there are other ways to motivate.

How to avoid it
People value different things, so by knowing your team you should be able to identify what speaks to that value, and use it as a form of motivation.
For example, work/life balance is valued highly by many. For these sorts of team members, the chance to work from home one day a week (if their type of work allows for it) could be a contributing factor to morale.
Other motivators include showing trust in an individual’s skills by increasing their responsibility, as well as privately praising team members who have overcome obstacles, made progress or performed exceptionally.

8. Not drawing the line
It’s easy to fall into the trap of wanting to appear friendly and approachable as a manager, but not being professional enough can lead to complications when it comes to making those tough decisions regarding people in a team.
This can result in anything from hurt feelings to the temptation to take advantage of your professional friendship. It’s important to maintain a balance and nurture a professional understanding between you and your team.

How to avoid it
While this doesn’t necessarily mean that you can’t make friends with team members, it’s important to ensure that you develop an understanding that there’s a time and a place for everything.
If you’re friendly with your team, ensure that criticism of work or behaviour is based on solid examples to leave as little room as possible for misunderstandings. An example is the “Situation, Behaviour, Impact” approach to feedback. This approach frames behaviour in a way that highlights its impact on the person who suffered because of it, and avoids directly accusing the person who performed it, so that they are less likely to get defensive.
Every team is different, and so requires a unique approach tailored to extracting the best from every member. Avoiding these mistakes will make the journey a lot smoother.


As any employer or HR practitioner will know, expensive schooling and impressive certificates are not always a reliable indicator that your candidate has what it takes to do the job you’re hiring them to do. While education is vital, more and more business owners are waking up to the value of apprenticeships as they build and groom their next generation of star employees.

Many business owners, perhaps justifiably, view apprenticeships with a certain amount of suspicion. Taken on for the wrong reasons or managed incorrectly, apprenticeship programmes can indeed be a drain on company resources with little advantage to show for it. In the South African context, we’re seeing a lot of companies establishing government-sponsored apprenticeships. Sadly, many only use their programmes as a way of getting cheap or free labour, with no idea of just how mutually beneficial apprenticeships can be if done right.

Apprenticeships are not cheap labour. In fact, they can be a significant drain on a company’s resources, compared to an experienced hire. Implementing an apprenticeship programme is therefore likely to entail much more work for you and your team, not less. The upside is that if all goes according to plan, you will have taken a common resource and made it into a rare one. Here are ways that implementing an apprenticeship programme can revitalise your business:

Providing a skilled workforce for the future
Apprenticeships help to ensure new recruits develop exactly the skills they need to successfully join the organisation, which can only benefit a business in the long term. Managers can ensure that the competencies being developed are exactly those that the company will need more of in the future – filling in any gaps and allowing the business to source future leaders from within.

Increasing staff loyalty and retention
Employees trained in-house tend to be more highly motivated, committed to their role, and supportive of the company and its objectives. Apprenticeships encourage employees to stay with the company longer by demonstrating its willingness to invest in its new recruits and treat them as a valued and integral part of the workforce.

More efficient recruitment
Apprenticeships can revolutionise the efficiency of your human resources efforts – saving you time and money lost to the recruitment process, as well as helping to make the need to replace employees a far less frequent bother. Apprenticeships are a great way to incubate the talent of your company’s future leaders and test the waters in a safe, insulated environment. You’ll also get to oversee and mould that talent as it develops. What’s more, having an apprentice around is a good insurance policy in case one of your team members should suddenly leave, because they’ll be leaving a trained “understudy” behind who can help pick up the slack.

Freeing up existing staff members’ time
As your business grows, your team will probably find their time being taken up by smaller tasks that tend to derail their main work responsibilities. Delegating these tasks to apprentices not only provides them with the hands-on upskilling they expect, but also frees up the time for your other employees to be more productive and less distracted.

A breath of fresh air
Bringing new, young people on board often translates to a fresh approach and a renewed positive attitude in the workplace, which can have the effect of enhancing workplace morale and cementing team unity. Apprentices inspire existing staff members to be willing to lend a hand in their training, as well as focus on improving their own skills. Apprentices from a variety of backgrounds and with different educational histories also give you fresh insight and out-of-the-box ideas to your business operations, encouraging change and innovation.

Companies considering taking on apprentices should not do so without considerable planning and the willingness to oversee every aspect of their apprentices’ progress. It is vital to be clear about your expectations as well as theirs, and make them a welcomed part of your team. With guidance, encouragement and good communication, you may find a few hidden gems among your new recruits, who may eventually show themselves to be your star employees in the future.

By Pieter Scholtz, leading business and executive coach and SA’s Co-Master Licensee for global franchise company ActionCOACH

Women in the boardroom

South African women have come a long way in the boardroom; however, they still have a lot of work to do when it comes to making their mark and claiming ownership at board level.

In a rapidly evolving world, one would think that considering all the milestones we have passed and overcome as a nation and country, gender equality in the workplace is automatically observed.

At the Beijing Conference of 1995, women’s rights came to the fore. Here delegates prepared a declaration and platform for action aimed at achieving greater equality and opportunity for women. In South Africa we have our Bill of Rights, which was intended to promote the rights of women as equal citizens. This legislative environment is very much in line with a global trend that indicates that the advancement of women who hold leadership positions is linked to a legislative framework or environment and not a voluntary action of society.

Even with these milestones of women making their mark across various industries being very prominent and continuously encouraged, the success of gender transformation according to Stats SA and other relevant sources tells a different story.

Other than government, corporate SA shows an 80/20 split in the job market focused mainly on levels of directorship such as executive and board levels whereby men dominate the workplace.

According to the Stats SA 2015 survey, the gender gap is higher in the private and semi-private sectors. The percentage of senior posts held by females in state-owned enterprises is only 24%, with 76% being held by men.

Similarly, in chapter institutions this number is only 25% of senior leadership positions being held by women, with 74% held by men.

The most alarming, however, is when we look into the JSE Top 40 listed companies and find that only 3% of these CEOs are women.

“South Africa has a long way to go in establishing and promoting the future of female leaders. This clearly indicates the importance of gender mainstreaming as well as BEE transformation at board level,” says MD of Transcend Talent Management, Zanele Luvuno.

According to a report released by PwC, Executive Directors 2014, only 13% of women hold executive roles in the basic resource sector, in comparison to the 87% of males who occupy the same space. It highlights the amount of work still to be done and also the fact that the gap between male and female at board level continues to grow.

Another area of concern to be pointed out is the financial services industry, where the positioning is 85% male and 15% female split. Given these facts, it is evident that women in the workplace have a long way to go and grow, especially at board level.

Research has further pointed out that women at board level play a vital role in the dynamics of the organisation, bringing to the table more productivity, a visible increase in companies’ bottom lines and seeing better corporate governance. With there being a business case for women in leadership positions, why then has corporate South Africa been so slowly to transform?

The Businesswomen’s Association of South Africa indicates that women are mostly appointed in non-executive directorship positions, only 9,2% of women hold chairperson positions and only 2,4% of women are appointed as CEOs.

An argument for keeping women out of leadership positions has been our desire to have children and our responsibility to our families. Being the ever-increasingly independent beings that they are, women have become accustomed to a work/life family balance and are able to single-handedly juggle all these responsibilities.

By not empowering women, we not only deprive the economy but also deprive households of opportunities, where in this day and age run households as single parents and mothers, providing for their families. The facts continue to unravel of how male candidates have owned the corporate leadership space over decades and have been given preference over more senior opportunities.

Transcend Talent Management offers unique and tailored solutions to boards and companies to help align and place qualified women into leadership positions. Being headed by a successful female promotes the placement of women at directorship levels and into transactions so that we may start to be drivers of initiatives such as black industrialisation. Managing Director Zanele Luvuno focuses on partnering clients with the appropriate black partner to create the perfect fit and relationship for long-term success.

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