Tag: management

Looking at the world of work today, it has been cut in half. On one side is the office, the traffic and the regular flow of people into places and roles. On the other is the remote workforce, with staff doing their best to complete their roles using digital tools and versatile technology.

The Covid-19 pandemic has effectively turned every working eye towards what’s being referred to as the “newsual” – the new normal – and what this means for employees and companies. Organisations are grappling with unexpected challenges around payments, management and control. According to the General Manager of CRS Technologies, Ian McAlister, the most important activity any organisation can engage in right now is to keep calm and develop a plan.

“Build a solid plan, implement it and revisit it often,” he advises. “Make use of technology where it can benefit the business, don’t make hasty decisions that can have long-term consequences, and communicate often. Engaging with your employees on a regular and personal level can make all the difference.

“One of the more difficult areas of remote working is the management of employees. It can be challenging to ensure that individuals are meeting targets, being productive or even coping with their new working conditions. To resolve this, consider hosting regular online meetings that conclude with clear deliverables. If everybody knows what they are expected to do, the metrics that will measure their performance, and how they are to do it, then they will be more engaged and more likely to do the work.

“It’s also important to cater to your employee’s mental health,” McAlister continues. “Your people need to be as comfortable as possible so that their needs are being met. If they feel heard and they understand exactly what is expected of them, then they will feel of value to the organisation.”

Salary payments should be one of the few areas that remain unchanged during the remote working revolution, as long as no cash payments are required and a proper payroll system is in place. The legislation around the payment benefits is changing regularly and only a solid payroll system is capable of keeping up with these changes. Ensure that the business practises separation of duties and maintains corporate oversight.

“It’s advisable to take advantage of the financial benefits available in legislation, not only for the company’s benefit, but for the employees that are being affected,” says McAlister. “It’s very apparent that a remote workforce is the future so it’s worth putting all these processes – financial, managerial, operations – into place right from the start. They may not be temporary.”

During the course of the pandemic, the business should use this as an opportunity to refine the processes it is putting in place as they can be used going forward. A well-developed remote working policy that achieves results shouldn’t be thrown out the door the moment the regulations allow office working again. Best practice is to genuinely set clear and agreed expectations, communicate often and personally, and measure outcomes against expectations. Reward those who deliver exceptional performances during these complex times and mentor those who are struggling; it will pay off over the long term.

“There is little doubt that the processes that are required for the lockdown will be used going forward as companies realise that it’s practical to work remotely,” concludes McAlister. “With time they will be modified to suit a more long-term scenario. The HR function will need to move from a more traditional method to one that can manage the vagaries of remote working, and there needs to be more trust between management and employees at all levels. However, I think that South Africa is mature enough to meet this challenge. In fact, it already has.”

The Covid-19 pandemic and resulting lockdown has exposed weaknesses in many organisations’ workforce management practices.

 While the unique circumstances forced companies to quickly embrace remote working, many were completely unprepared to manage users in their homes.

 This is the word from Graham Fry, MD of local software developer Saucecode, who points out that remote workers have been shown to be happier and more productive – if they are managed correctly.

 “Plenty has been written about what workers should be doing as they adapt to the new remote working paradigm. But it’s what their managers do that means the difference between success or failure,” Fry says.

 There are many tools on the market that let companies monitor their workers, some quite authoritarian, Fry says. “The real value is in not monitoring your workers, but rather in managing them.”

 Saucecode has developed Tistro, an agent-based tool that lets managers measure productivity and helps workers to stay efficient. The company is offering free Tistro subscriptions until 30 June 2020.

 “As a South African company, we felt it was our duty to do something to help the country during this time of crisis, so we have made our workforce management tool available as a free subscription,” Fry says.

 “Tistro gives managers visibility into what workers are doing while helping to improve productivity and efficiency.”

 Brian Little, co-founder of Saucecode, adds that managing productivity is not something that should only happen when workers have to work at home, but the current lockdown has helped to throw the issue into focus.

“What the lockdown has done is expose problems with worker management overall, and shown us that we need a different way of doing things so users can be equally well-managed whether they are in the office or at home.”

 Tistro helps managers to quickly identify which workers are performing well, which need help, and which are super-performers. They can also identify what methods or applications increase productivity and which are counter-productive.

“Its data, so it’s accurate and unbiased,” Little adds. “With a tool like Tistro you can see what is actually happening.”

Companies with as few as 20 users, right up to the largest enterprises with thousands of users, can quickly deploy the free Tistro subscription and start reaping the benefits literally within an hour.

Little explains the process: “Once a company requests the free offer, we set up their profile on our cloud server – which takes just 30 minutes; we then send them their user name and login and the links for the client-side agents; the manager sends these links to the workers in their team; the workers click on the link; and the agent installation takes place. 

“As soon as its installed, the device will start reporting into the system and there is visibility into the user’s work.

“It really is that fast.”

Fry says a lot of effort went into developing a smooth and fast user experience.

“You can’t make it difficult for people otherwise they won’t use it,” he says. “It needs to be easy to set up and to manage. Network administrators are busy people, especially in the current circumstances, and they don’t need additional headaches, so we have made Tistro really simple to set up.”

Once the initial set-up is done, line of business managers can align the data space with their business, deciding which applications can be accessed and ranking their relative importance to the task at hand. Again, this is a simple process and Little estimates that managers should take no more than an hour to do this.

“It is easy to set up the system so it accurately reflects the business and, after that, the administration is minutes per day,” he says.

Saucecode will generate reports based on the criteria set out by managers, giving them realtime visibility into their workforce almost immediately.

Confidentiality is important, and Tistro allows the right hierarchies to be set up so data is viewed only by the correct managers and the users themselves.

The company also has comprehensive tutorials and self-help videos on its website (www.saucecode.tech) which can help IT administrators and line of business managers to quickly set up and become productive.

As an added bonus, the tool offers an accurate look into what applications are being used which can help administrators correctly manage their software licenses and potentially save money.

“All of this ties into a product that is less about monitoring people and more about management, enabling users and business to work together in a trust relationship,” Little says.

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.

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.

visit JulieHanCoaching.com to get the best coaching related to your career choices.

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.

Source: www.resources.getsmarter.co.za

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