In an age of professional social networks, it might seem as if the design of your CV and depth of your LinkedIn profile determines your ability to advance your career. In reality, networking is still an essential skill that should be fine-tuned and perfected. Here are some important insights into this often-overlooked business skill.

Network first, Facebook later
Decision makers still value human contact. Your digital profile is still considered a ‘cold call’ by the people who matter – they want to know who you really are, beyond a one-dimensional summary. Although it’s vital to play in the digital networking space, there’s no substitute for face-to-face interaction. The perfect LinkedIn profile means nothing if you can’t win people over in person, even though the end goal is ultimately the same: to promote yourself and connect with the right people.

Know your game
It’s pointless to attend an event and blindly try to make an impact on everyone in the room. You have to know your short and long terms goals, and align your networking strategy accordingly. Be strategic: before you attend an event, research who will be there and a little bit about them. Know who you want to chat to, and make it happen.

Listen longer
The most vital skill in networking successfully is listening. Never approach a group of people and start running your mouth off because you feel you need to assert yourself and promote your skill set.

Ask questions, listen and identify similar interests. Pick up on these interests and ask more questions about them. Be flexible – if they’re not responding to you, change your agenda. Endearing yourself to someone as a person first makes it much easier to approach them professionally later. Always remember to keep it strictly friendly and familiar, never flirtatious.

Understand it takes time
Would-be-go-getters are often awestruck by the raw talent of successful networkers – this is a misconception. No one is a born networker – it’s a learned skill. Some people might be more naturally confident, but that certainly doesn’t make them a good networker. It takes endless hours of practice to fine-tune and master a fruitful networking style. So practice as much as you can.

Attend events that push you out of your comfort zone and try to leave with at least a few contacts. You’ve got nothing to lose, so be bold. Like anything else in life, the more you practice, the easier it gets.

Network everywhere
It may sound odd, but your networking skills spill over into your personal life too. Social occasions are equally important opportunities to network – but in this case, you’re looking to make friends, or just create a relaxed and comfortable environment.

The same goes for networking within your company. Just because you’ve landed the job you want, doesn’t mean you should stop networking – connect with people above and below you in the corporate structure. Offer support where and when you can, because one day you’ll probably need it in return.

Master the follow-up
You’ve spent a day connecting with the right people, swapped business cards – now what? Always think ahead and plan how you’re going to connect after the event. If possible, try and swap numbers and send a follow-up message the day after. Don’t be too aggressive and stalk them: asking for a coffee or lunch meeting to chat is okay, asking them to swing past your house for a glass of wine probably isn’t.

If you want to become a successful networker, remember you have to be self-motivated. The onus is on you to fine-tune your skills, because no-one is going to do it for you. It’s about being your own personal cheerleader, without anyone actually noticing. You’ll be surprised by how much it benefits other areas of your social life – and it might just land you the position you want.

By Tish Magongwa, franchise marketing manager at Nashua

“When you play the game of thrones, you win or you die. There is no middle ground.”
It’s a quote that aptly sums up the cutthroat world of Game of Thrones, but one that I often find myself thinking about when considering the unforgiving digital marketplace. Fail to play the digital game and your company will find itself facing a nasty fate indeed.

In fact, watching this season’s Game of Thrones, I can’t help but see the world of Westeros and our own as surprisingly similar. Sure, there are fewer shadow assassins and dragons in our world, but we both find ourselves facing major forces of disruption.
Thankfully, our own disruptive forces are more beneficial than the marching white walkers, but there are still a few important leadership lessons we can take from Westeros.

Tradition won’t save you
It doesn’t matter how old and venerated you are in Game of Thrones. No-one is safe in Westeros, not even the kings and queens themselves. Those leaders who allow themselves to get comfortable, thinking they’re safe because of the traditions they surround themselves with, are the ones who inevitably lose their heads – often literally.
Compare Ned and his unwillingness to compromise with the more agile Lannisters, who are at their peak when Tyrion is given free rein. Old business models are losing out to more nimble enterprises who are able to get product to market faster and respond to change.

Back the right house
Alliances are a huge part of building and maintaining power in Game of Thrones. Get the right house to support you and you’ll be able to stave off the worst that your enemies have to offer. The same is true in today’s platform-based economy – those companies that stand alone are the most in danger of falling to ruin.
In a platform economy, having strong digital partnerships is like having a powerful house behind you. The capabilities a company needs to have on hand to innovate in such a fast-paced, hyperconnected world are staggering. Working in apartner ecosystem model allows for the scale and agility necessary to be able to deliver real-time customer experiences, as well as create bold new innovations.

Anticipate the disruptive threats
Winter is coming. Everyone on the show already knows this and yet they consistently choose to ignore it and rather focus on their own petty battles. While not everyone might know of the peril of the white walkers, the signs are there that something big is coming over the Wall.
For real world enterprises, the changing digital landscape can seem as alien and daunting as an army of ice zombies. But transformation, like the white walkers, doesn’t have to be a surprise. Unlike the Night’s Watch, we have the tools to be able to predict how disruption might change businesses, markets and even whole industries.

Knowledge is power
At the heart of these tools is data. Just why is it that Littlefinger – a rather minor figure among the great houses of Westeros – wields so much influence? It’s because through his network of spies and informants, he knows practically everything that goes on in the Kingdom and can adapt his own plans accordingly.
Data is even more critical in the real world, where markets live and die on accurate insights and predictions. Companies that embed analytics into their decision-making processes enjoy the fruits of better performance across their whole organisation.

Think young
Jon. Daenerys. Arya. It’s the young who are taking charge in Westeros, trying to either create their individual paths to happiness or take up their family legacies in their own unique way. When the dust settles and the battles are won, it is they who are likely to be standing at the end of the series.
Similarly, some of the most disruptive companies in the world are the likes of Uber, Tesla and Spotify. Start-ups and newbies are out-manoeuvring their larger, slower competitors, shaping what the future of their respective industries look like. And within enterprises themselves, it is often millennials that are driving innovation and change.
As you fight your own digital battles, you need to ask who the Jon Snows – those visionary young heroes that drive innovation – are in your organisation. What alliances are you putting in place to help you face the winter?

By Lee Naik, MD of Accenture Digital in South Africa

Workplace culture is a unique sociological construct. While it may work in much the same way as any other type of culture does in a community (say, ethnic or religious culture), it differs in one major respect: it is inherently multi-cultural.

In South Africa this is particularly true, with the average workplace containing employees of all races, genders, religions, political affiliations and many other differentiating factors. This makes the creation and maintenance of a positive and unifying workplace culture all the more difficult – and all the more important.

There are manifold ways a strong company culture contributes towards business success. It makes the workplace more appealing to potential employees and helps to retain the best talent. This makes the hiring process more successful and also reduces staff turnover. When you factor in the costs of hiring, training and disrupting the productivity of your team, it makes perfect sense to create a workplace environment that people will less likely want to leave.

A strong culture also contributes greatly towards a company’s brand by aligning their employees’ perceptions from the inside with their customers’ perceptions from the outside, solidifying a positive public view of the company as a whole. Happy employees make the best brand ambassadors, and in this age of social media, both employees and customers alike broadcast their experiences for all to see.

No two workplace cultures are ever quite alike, because no two organisations are the same. To a certain extent, the industry in which it operates will dictate the company culture. In a law firm, for example, a strongly hierarchical structure, a certain sense of decorum and formal dress-code come standard, but cultural similarities in workplace organisations do reveal cultural patterns common to most companies. This provides a useful framework for managers who want to assess or alter their organisational culture for the better.

Charles Handy, Irish philosopher and a world-leading figure in organisational culture, identified four overarching types of workplace culture.

Power culture
In some organisations, power is held in the hands of very few trusted and authorised decision-makers. These people enjoy special privileges in the workplace and delegate responsibility to the rest of the company. Employees in these types of environments are expected to follow their superiors’ instructions to the letter and do not have the liberty to express alternative viewpoints. Such cultures often suffer in the long run, falling victim to high staff dissatisfaction at the lower hierarchical levels.

Task culture
In a task culture, solving problems and achieving the targets of the company are at the heart of the team’s interactions. In these types of companies, small teams (generally four to five people) with similar interests and specialisations are grouped and expected to contribute equally to the task at hand. These employees tend to remain stimulated and content, and are given the room to innovate and think creatively.

Person culture
In these organisations, the wellbeing of the company takes a backseat to the personal importance of each employee – and eventually suffers for it. When employees place too much emphasis on their own concerns in the absence of a strong sense of teamwork or common goal, productivity, staff satisfaction and loyalty all tend to be low.

Role culture
In a role culture, every employee is given responsibilities based on their delegated role and their professional specialisation, as well as their educational background and even their personal preference. This is all done in the interest of extracting the best performance out of each individual. In these cultures, power and responsibility are the results of hard work and proven performance, and employee motivation as well as work performance tend to be higher than average.

It may seem like a clear-cut group of categories, but in reality, most companies are hybrids of more than one, or even all four of these cultural archetypes. All have their pros and cons, and all are suited to different industries, companies of varying sizes, different sociocultural contexts, and different points in the company’s development.

Managers are encouraged to be open-minded and take a hard look at the values of their organisations before deciding which cultural model fits them best, looking for opportunities to weave them into the fabric of the company’s daily operations.

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

Satisfaction guaranteed!

My Office magazine’s simple guide to giving – and getting – great customer service.

Giving great customer service

If you’re in the business of selling products and services, a content and loyal customer is worth their weight in gold.
However, as technologically-enhanced, real-time communication grows, a dissatisfied customer can be a ticking time-bomb that can do significant damage to your brand’s reputation.


Choose the right medium

It’s vital to know when to use technology-based services and when to rely on human interaction. An online form or automated response might work for a customer who’s looking for efficiency and a quick fix, but someone who’s desperately seeking consolation, advice or assistance won’t react well to a machine. Train service agents to know when which form of service is most appropriate.

Streamline consultancy

Working with one consultant is invaluable for customers. One point of contact simplifies exchange, makes problem solving efficient and decreases frustration levels. This system also allows consultants to build strong and lasting relationships with clients.

Reward valuable customers

Tailored services for long-standing clients, as well as new and existing “big spenders”, are a useful value-add – whether it’s additional or personalised services, or exclusive benefits. This can result in significant growth and investment from the customer’s side.

Listen

“Customer service” often drums up images of sub-par call centres, but valuable support can be offered in so many ways. Social media, if used properly, can be a powerful tool to gain insights from customers to improve service. Feedback is never diluted and happens in realtime, which is a huge asset if managed properly.

Offer specialised support

Effective communication is the first tenant of great customer service. This means if your customer service support team isn’t speaking the same language as your customers – literally and figuratively – you’ll never be offering the best service possible. Make sure your support team is tailored according to region, accents and even vernacular, to ensure a fruitful exchange.

Fix issues quickly

As far as possible, make sure customers’ issues are resolved the very first time they complain, so clients experience the least downtime and maximise efficiency. First time fix (FTF) is a sure-fire way to get repeat business.

Follow up

A customer scorned once is dangerous; a customer scorned twice is fatal – and they will not hesitate to make their plight known. Even after the resolution of an issue, there should always be some kind of follow-up communication to check the problem hasn’t returned, and the client is happy. It never goes amiss.

Getting great customer service

Have you ever wondered how some people always seem to get the best table, the upgraded room or the best piece of meat at the market? Conversely, others seem to continually get the surly waiter, the lazy clerk or the indifferent bellhop.
Great customer service is no accident; there are things you can do to get it. Indeed, those who receive the most professional, courteous and friendly service follow a deliberate recipe that turns even a cold and raw initial encounter into a warm and delicious experience.

Here are six tips for almost always getting great customer service:

Be positive

Enter the scene with the expectation that greatness is about to happen and that it should happen to you. Visualise being served well. Then let your obvious positive attitude and confident expectation come from your terrific mental picture. Avoid making demands. Instead, put your energy into creating early, light-hearted vibes.

Make a good first impression

The first 10 seconds are vital to shaping the reception you are likely to get. Aim your eyes and best smile at the service provider. Deliver a friendly greeting. Be confident, but not aggressive or pushy. Optimism and joy are generally infectious. Remember, servers favour customers who are a pleasure to serve.

Lend a hand

Most service people really are eager to give great service. But sometimes barriers can make it difficult. So, be a willing helper in clearing those barriers away. If the barrier is the server’s foul mood, try a quick tease or sincere compliment to turn sour into sunny. If the barrier is an absurd policy, offer a novel suggestion that helps you get what you want without putting your service person at risk of managerial disdain.

Be respectful

No matter how determined a service provider seems to be to provide the absolute bare minimum, always treat them with respect. Sometimes a “no!” is an unshakable “no”.
Always use your very best manners: “please”, “sir” and “thank you”. Remember that a chilly initial reception will generally thaw if you are persistent in your cheerfulness. Your server just might surprise you with a turnaround attitude late in the encounter.

Be playful

Use a playful style that lets the service person be a bit mischievous. Instead of announcing: “I’d like a no-smoking table with a view”, try: “We’d love to get the table that you would want if this was your special night. I know you can get us just the right spot.”
If you help make service delivery feel fun, you’ll have servers wanting to join you on the playground.

Be generous and thoughtful

Never view a service encounter as a single transaction, but rather the start of an important relationship. Assume you’ll be back, and be generous in expressing your gratitude for great service.
Praise service people to their superiors. Express your compliments to great service providers with a follow-up note or call. The next time you return, you’ll get their red carpet best.

Don’t wait for great service to come to you. Take charge of elevating the encounter from a “pretty good” transaction to an “I wouldn’t go anywhere else” relationship.

Service people enjoy great customers just as much as customers enjoy great servers. So, “serve” from your heart and you’ll be served in the same fashion.

What is a millennial? Commonly defined as a person who was born between 1980 and 2000, the term “millennial” is at its heart a generational marker. There is another side to it, though, one where the phrase broadly encompasses a mark of behaviour. At least it has become common place to identify certain behavioural traits when referring to millennials.

Unfortunately, not all characteristics associated with this generation are perceived in a positive light. Described aptly by Chelsea Krost, 24, co-founder of MPulse a Millennial-focused marketing agency from Forbes article “Is Millennial a dirty word?” written by Samantha Sharf, the word millennial has previously perceived connotations:

“To set the record straight the word Millennial is NOT a dirty word. Unfortunately, the Millennial Generation has been labelled with stereotypes like lazy, entitled, and narcissistic, which has created confusion and frustration amongst many Millennials and generations prior. This generation is often misunderstood and the ‘Millennial Hustlers’ of today don’t always get the recognition or credibility they deserve because we tend to fixate more on the negative than the positive about this demographic of people. Millennials are a generation unlike any before and we are pioneering new methods in the workplace, technology and ways of communicating that will have a great impact on our near future. It is crazy to me to think that we can define 80 million people with three negative stereotypes. Instead, I believe many Millennials are entrepreneurial, innovative, liberal and charitable.”

However, there is a common thread that is definitely associated with this generation and that is that they are redefining the workspace. Millennials are no longer happy with the typical nine-to-five day. To many it is regarded as an outdated notion, and that the best delivery of services no longer come from working in your typical office space environment. Instead, flexibility, the room to grow and engage with others in the workspace and the use of technology slowly become the prime factors when deciding where to work and who to work for.

Responding to a US survey by Steelcase, when asked to select two words to describe their ideal workplace, millennials chose “Active” (62%) and “Flexible” (54%), while Gen-Xers chose: “Fun” (56%) and “Creative”, and baby boomers selected: “Spacious/Inspiring (57%) and “Active” (53%). Peter Townshend, Managing Director of workspace researchers, Know More, says that the situation is very much the same in South Africa: “The call for flexible, active workspaces is high,” he explains. “Yes, this call comes mostly from millennials, though we are seeing all age sectors desiring, especially, more flexible workspaces that provide them with specific areas to do specific tasks. Millennial are tech-savvy, innovative and motivated and their way of working is person-centred, not place specific and because of this, we need to rethink how we see workspaces that enhance productivity. Giving a millennial a desk is the worst thing you can do – they want to sit with their entire team in highly collaborative areas, and be able to come and go as they please … especially when they need to concentrate and focus. From all the observations that we have made on South African millennials when it comes to designing workspaces to enhance their work styles, one word comes to mind: choice. Give them choices and watch them grow – Peter Townshend, Managing Director, Know More.

It is worth keeping in mind that you aren’t only building a workspace that represents the brand, but also a space for the people who work there. Companies, such as Giant Leap, know that when it comes to the office, not everyone prefers the typical desk and chair set-up, but rather open workspaces which allow for collaboration and retreat rooms for quiet time.

Integrating technology into the workspace is important. With the millennial generation being constantly online, and using technology both as a medium to increase productivity and enhance one’s skill set, it’s no longer a surprise that the working environment should be technological friendly.

This means creating integrated technological workspaces. Rooms where one can comfortably have a skype call. Office spaces that make sure connectivity is possible and that you don’t necessarily have to be at one specific station or desk to achieve this connectivity.

Giant Leap takes all of this into consideration when planning and creating a workspace. It’s no longer just about the architecture, the colour schemes, the beautifully crafted furniture or the eco-friendly materials but it’s also about the people. The roles they take on, the preferred environment, the way they engage with the space and ultimately how all of this can be used to enhance productivity.

Are you an early riser or do you hit the snooze button until it can be hit no more? Or are you one of those who prefer to work while the rest of the world sleeps?

Although there are exceptions to every rule, overwhelming evidence seems to indicate a consistent correlation between early risers and successfully engaged leaders.

Many in leadership incorrectly assume their most important asset is their time; an assumption based on the premise that because people are always clamouring for it, it must be extremely valuable. While there’s no doubt that time is precious, it’s by no means the only significant asset. If fact, when it comes to leaders, energy and ability to energise others (the vision, values and culture of the team) as well as the energising of new initiatives, is top of the list. Quite simply what’s truly special in a great leader is their ability to mobilise others.

Early to bed – early to rise
Benjamin Franklin once said, “Early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise.” Giving credibility to his thinking – to this day, some of the most successful and honourable people in history across the business, political and sports world have all publicly stated that getting up early is one of their keys to success. People like Mahatma Gandhi, Thomas Edison and Nelson Mandela were all early risers. It’s no coincidence that so many successful people get up early rather than work late.

Mornings hold the key to taking control of our schedules and if we use them wisely, we can build habits that will allow us to lead more productive and ultimately happier lives.

Besides the obvious benefit of missing the traffic – this morning time allows us to gain control and to plan how to get ahead. Without exception great leaders create time to be alone in the morning. Former PepsiCo chairman and CEO Steve Reinemund would rise at 5:00 am, run four miles, pray, and eat breakfast with his family before heading to work to run a Fortune 500 company. Richard Branson confirms that he wakes up at around 5:45am, even when at his private island, using those early hours to exercise before breakfast, and then doing his best work of the day.
So while many of us are still in bed, leaders are scoring daily victories to improve their health, careers, and personal lives without sacrificing their sanity.

Early mornings and exercise

Many leaders use this early morning time for exercise which boosts mood, fitness and energy (further energising through the creation of deeper sleep cycles). When you have your health, you have everything. When you do not have your health, nothing else matters at all.

Early mornings and attitude
Not just a theory, Harvard biologist Christoph Randler discovered in 2008 that early risers are more proactive. His research indicated that “morning people” are more likely to anticipate problems and minimise them efficiently, which leads to more success in the office. Interestingly various studies also reveal that morning people tend to exhibit character traits like optimism, being agreeable, satisfaction and conscientiousness. Just what a leader needs to energise ideas among teams.

For some leaders routinely meditating as part of an early morning routine is what helps them keep perspective. They even see it as a way to develop patience and improve work performance. For others it’s a combination of things, including practising a digital detox over weekends to ensure the brain and soul have time to reboot – thereby returning to work calmer on a Monday.

Regardless of how leaders choose to energise, there is no denying that leadership is demanding; there are always fresh challenges that need time, focus and attention. This calls for a game plan that allows the leader the time out to re-energise for optimal long term performance.

So if you, like every other leader, wants to be a better version of who you are, the rule of thumb says get a head start, literally, every day, by training to be an early riser and in so doing manage your output better for greater success.

By Lauren Durant, director of Isilumko Activate Director

Choosing a digital HCM solution

Five years ago, industry leaders questioned whether payroll, accounting or any other business software service could be delivered in the cloud. Questions raised at the time were around security and efficacy benefits.

Based on an article by Louis Columbus on Forbes.com however, PwC is predicting that by 2016, investment in SaaS (software as a service) solutions will more than double to around the $78-billion while traditional HCM (human capital management) systems will decline over 30% to less than $15-billion. So what does a cloud based HCM solution look like versus the traditional HCM model?

Let’s first take a look at what an effective HCM business solution can do – among other things, it needs to run your monthly Payroll and Human Capital Management, including Leave Applications, Succession and Talent Planning, Training and Skills Management, Business Process Workflow and Performance Management. The resource efforts, time and financial support required to manage this function without the correct solutions in place, are often the reason a business may not run efficiently.

Delivering a HCM solution that offers all of these features and more is one thing; being able to deliver this in a real time, cloud-based, operationally efficient solution is genius and will become the status quo of the future.

  Cloud Based Solution Web Enabled Solution
Design A cloud based solution is designed with scalability and usability as a key element of its architecture A web enabled solution is developed for limited access and requires PC installation which becomes available via a web browser for remote access
Installation There is no hardware or software installation required with a cloud based solution and it is accessible through a standard web browser A web enabled solution may require VPN (Virtual Private Network) or Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) access which will need to be installed per client and makes access tedious and technical
Updates/Management With a cloud based solution, regular updates are rolled out instantaneously via multi-tenancy configurations that can be managed at no additional cost by the vendor Web Enabled Solutions require manual administration for each instance of the software which leads to delayed updates and upgrades
Flexibility Cloud based solutions are highly configurable due to its intended purpose of serving a wide spectrum of client requirements Web enabled solutions require customisation in order to cater for certain requirements. This is costly and makes upgrades technical and tedious
Accessibility As Cloud based solutions are built on an open API platform, it allows for any 3rd party product to integrate with ease Web enabled solutions do not lend themselves to integration options which results in complex projects to extract people related data
Security Reliable SSL Connections and data encryption at rest (protecting data which is not moving through the networks) ensure security across Cloud based solutions ‘Installed’ solutions cannot easily satisfy global security best practice requirements
Business Continuity Cloud based solutions ensure that disaster recovery is part of their delivered solution Web enabled solutions do not provide disaster recovery options and need to be manually designed

The effects these differences can have on business HCM solutions are obviously huge. Clients can work from a single instance, multi-tenant, real time platform that offers consolidated payrolls and HR data – in PaySpace’s example – across 37 countries. Support for a cloud based solution is instantaneous without the time and resource requirements which mean quicker product and feature dissemination, regular updates and solution enhancements and lower operational costs. All-in-all, cloud based solutions offer a far quicker turnaround time end-to-end without the financial burdens traditional models may incur. Features also grow organically based on the consistent client interaction, so like with the African tax example, opinions and regular updates improve tax attitudes and interpretations.

A cloud solution should be able to give you instant updates with no annual license fees (as software nor hardware needs to be purchased therefore alleviating the need for exorbitant up-front set up fees), automatic system enhancements, in this case, specifically around legislative updates, be cost effective and offer real time solutions that are accessible from any mobile device (smartphone or tablet) that is backed up. cloud based solutions can attract and improve staff retention, improving business output, encourage better resource usage by focusing on more advanced areas of business growth and of course, increase the bottom line.

PaySpace, a Frost & Sullivan 2015 South Africa award winner in Product Leadership of the Year for Enterprise Resource Planning Systems, says their cloud based application has benefited their customers by being scalable, meaning their multi-tenant infrastructure makes is easy to increase computing capacity for the entire environment. The performance or nature of the multi-tenant architecture of the PaySpace solution makes it easier to maximise the performance of different elements built into the technology that ensures optimum and reliable output at all times. PaySpace’s upgrades are simple and instantaneous as they are disseminated from a centralised location and because cloud based service providers have a vested interest in ensuring successful usage; accountability becomes an attractive product feature. These updates ensure PaySpace customers are always fully tax compliant, with all legislative checking processes stipulated by the 37 countries in which they operate.

“PaySpace has positioned itself as a leading end-to-end human capital management (HCM) software developer and provider. Owing to a pay-as-you-use model, its customers have the flexibility to readily change their payroll and HCM as the need arises,” says Frost & Sullivan best practices analyst, Fadzai Deda.

“With the increase in spending budget on HCM solutions forecasted by Frost & Sullivan to increase at a compounded rate of 11,6% between 2013 and 2017, slow adoption and understanding of cloud solutions by business entities due to information security concerns will continually be a challenge industry participants will need to face despite positive growth prediction,” says Warren van Wyk, Director of PaySpace. “It is imperative that businesses understand cloud based vs web enabled HCM solutions so business decisions today can positively influence the technology need of tomorrow,” concludes van Wyk.

We have all heard economists warn of “tough economic times”, in preparation for which consumers must “tighten their belts”.

But for the over-indebted, whose belts are already pulled as tight as can be, the rising cost of living is an extra strain that puts them on the precipice of financial ruin.

The challenge always is knowing the difference between what you want and what you need, and living within your means.

The following habits can be used as the basic structures of smarter money management:

  1. Know how much you make and how much you spend
  2. Keep track of your spending so that you are always aware of where your money is going. Drawing up a budget helps you identify areas where you are throwing money down the drain and areas in which you can cut down.
  3. Make savings and investments a priority when you draw up a budget. These should be way up there with your rent or bond payments, insurance and medical aid.
  4. Spend less than you earn and save the difference:
  5. This means that you should live below your means, and try to save (invest) as much as possible.
  6. Have an emergency fund and keep a close eye on it. Get life cover, draw up a will. Start thinking about retirement now. Do not leave anything to chance; be prepared because you do not know what might happen tomorrow.
  7. Take good care of any credit accounts you have. Always pay your balance in full, do not max out your credit cards, and never use debt to pay off other debt. Try to save for items instead of turning to credit. If you are struggling to manage your debt, stop taking on more credit.
  8. Write down your financial goals and review them regularly. Whether you want to travel, buy a car, or are saving for a deposit on a house, always record what you want to achieve. The goal may not necessarily be a financial one, but realising it may hinge on your financial planning. Either way, having goals you can review regularly will keep you focused and on track.
  9. Always take the long view. Do not fall prey to get-rich-quick schemes. Make it your business to understand how wealth is created. Whenever you have money to save or invest, think long term.

Sticking to healthy money habits is difficult but not impossible.

Make it your business to understand money. The more you understand it, the better you will be able to use it to your benefit. The business of money does not have to be complicated or scary. A little education will go a long way.

For the overindebted, saving and investing might take a back seat as it is a struggle to keep up with monthly commitments. The following tips may help you stay afloat:

  • Face your debt: Avoid paying ridiculous amounts in interest by sticking to your monthly payments.
  • Speak to your creditors: If you are unable to make the agreed payments then negotiate the amount you can pay before your account is in the red. You will also avoid having your account handed over to a debt collection firm.
  • If your account has been handed over: Negotiate payment terms before you attract more administrative costs and interest than necessary. Avoid being hounded and charged for it too.
  • Get professional help: The National Credit Regulator is available to assist you with debt counselling should you find yourself unable to cope with the amount of debt you have. This process will have a massive effect on your access to credit and should be the very last resort.

Source: www.timeslive.co.za

Highly-engaged employees are 87% less likely to leave their companies than their disengaged counterparts, according to research conducted by Officevibe, a Canadian based organisation which provides methods to measure employee satisfaction and tips.

The research also found that companies with engaged employees typically experience 2.5 times more revenue than competitors with low engagement levels. These statistics show that creating a workforce that engages with its employees to ensure they are in sync with the organisational culture is becoming increasingly important, to not only retain staff but to ensure a healthy work environment.

This is according to Marieta Groeneveld, consulting psychometrist at Work Dynamics – a leading HR consultancy in the country, who says that the first and most important step is to establish an identifiable organisational culture. “It is crucial for businesses to have an organisational culture in place that supports the company’s objectives and enables its employees to deliver on the organisational goals. In addition to this, organisational culture can be a key source of competitive advantage and must be maintained and managed effectively.”

She adds that a good tool to use when determining the culture of an organisation is the Organisational Culture Assessment Instrument (OCAI), based on the Competing Values Framework of Cameron and Quinn. “This assessment is used to indicate the current and preferred culture along four culture types, namely Clan (people focused), Adhocracy (entrepreneurial), Market (competitive) and the Hierarchy (process driven). Then through workshops the underlying values are identified.”

There are various ways in which an organisation can measure whether employees and prospective employees fit their culture, says Groeneveld. “One of the most widely used methods involves workshops and culture surveys to determine a broad and efficient examination of prospective employees.”

The next step involves recruiters and interviewers, as they need to understand how the culture fit, or rather culture misfit, translates into the screening questions, explains Groeneveld. “These screening questions help to screen out, for example, individuals who are too aggressive, rude and individualistic when the dominant culture is a clan culture and requires collaboration, respect and teamwork, regardless of their expertise. The culture fit of a person is then determined by calculating the correlation between the profiles of the organisations values with the profile of the individual’s preferences.”

Groeneveld warns that the situation needs to be approached with some caution because culture fit procedures should not instantly restrict entry for people with oppositional values. “This could result in insufficient diversity in an attempt to maintain the current culture. Carefully examining the current versus desired culture as measured by the OCAI provides invaluable insights.”

“It is therefore advisable for organisations to partner with an independent service provider who can objectively judge the suitability of a potential candidate and who can identify the need for organisational culture to be re-evaluated,” concludes Groeneveld. In order to build a resilient organisational culture, businesses must not only hire employees based on stability, but must focus specifically on adaptability. Additionally, it is important to hire a diverse group of people. If everyone in the organisation thinks the same, there is little room for innovation. On the other hand, if the organisation only hires innovators, who would bring stability and act as the voice of reason?”

Dealing with office politics

A simple guide to dealing with office politics

Office politics is defined as the tactics that people within the work environment use to gain an advantage in order to further their own goals. Whether you hate it, admire it, practice it or avoid it, office politics is part of life in any organisation – and it needs to be understood and mastered.

The term often has a negative connotation, in that it refers to strategies people use to seek advantage at the expense of others or the greater good, and is seen as something to be avoided.  However, “good office politics” helps people to promote themselves and their cause fairly.

Denying the existence of office politics may cause you to suffer while others take unfair advantage, or you might miss the opportunities to properly further your own interests.

Accept that office politics exists

Accepting the reality of office politics is the first step to dealing effectively with it. Develop strategies to deal with the political behaviour going on around you. Observe these behaviours and then use the information you gather to build a strong network to operate in. Do this by:

  • Observing company interactions for a while, to re-map the organisation in terms of political power;
  • Find out who the real influencers and mentors are;
  • Find out if there are any social cliques, interpersonal conflicts or difficult people in the office;
  • Build relationships in your office that range across the formal hierarchy (from peers to executives).
  • Build real relationships based on trust and respect instead of false flattery; and
  • Be friendly to everyone but don’t align yourself with one group or another.

Neutralise negativity

Steer clear of negative politicking and promote yourself positively. It is up to you to communicate your own abilities and successes to the right people through positive political action. When you spend more time listening, you are less likely to say something inappropriate. Get to know the negative politickers better and be courteous to them, but always be very careful what you say to them. Try to understand what motivates them, thereby learning how to avoid or counter their impact.


Govern your own behaviour

Observation will help you better understand what works in your office. Watch other people and identify successful behaviours that you can imitate. Ensure that you:

  • Don’t pass on gossip or spread rumours. If you hear something, take time to consider its credibility before reacting.
  • Rise above interpersonal conflicts. Do not get involved in divisive arguments with colleagues.
  • Always remain professional and remember the best interests of the business.
  • Maintain a positive outlook, and avoid whining and complaining.
  • Are confident and assertive but not aggressive.
  • Do not take a personal view when voicing objections or criticism. Keep the organisation in mind.
  • Always assume things will be disclosed rather than kept in confidence, and decide what you should reveal accordingly.
  • Lead by example in your office or team. Be a model of integrity.

Positive or negative, office politics is a fact of life. Refusing to participate in it means that you run the risk of having no say in what happens to you, while people less qualified than you make the decisions. Learning how to use the power of office politics positively, while diffusing the efforts of those who abuse it, will make for a happier office.

 

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My Office News Ⓒ 2017 - Designed by A Collective


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