Before your read the rest.................

I would like to assist you, our valuable delegates and clients to become part of a dynamic group of South Africans who are keen to excel in business, career and life.

Did you know?

The average paycheck lasts the average person 11 days!
Less than 30% of our workforce really love their jobs!
The average person only retains 35% of the new information they are given!
Approximately 40% of our economy is driven by small and medium business owners.
Approximately 95% of entrepreneurs fail in their first attempt.
Most people only use 2 of the 6 trains of thought necessary to solve a problem.
The digital age has brought along with it, the age of information, if you are not informed, you will fall behind.
Less than 10% of our population are well provided for in their old age.
Less than 50% of the population are happy!

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Focus on employees, employment and staff training for SME's
by Debbie Engelbrecht
Last updated November 2005

South African business optimism is at an all time high according to a recent survey of SME's (companies with between 50 and 250 employees) carried out by Grant Thornton.

One of the emerging priorities for this sector is the implementation of their BBBEE (broad based black economic empowerment) policy. Consequently there is considerable focus on empowering employees from within the ranks. One of the only ways to accomplish this, will be the continued training and education of all South Africans.

This training needs to be undertaken in a systematic and organised manner. This is only achievable, firstly with good record keeping, secondly by appointing a good skills development facilitator and thirdly by making a decent skills development budget available.

Learnerships are available where compensatory payments are made by the SETA's. The claims process is however stringently documented (read as time consuming) and many providers are not in the position to educate without getting paid at least within a reasonable period of time.

This therefore often requires that the company wanting to train, needs the financial resources to do so prior to being compensated by the SETA's.

For documentation on learnerships and the claims process you can refer to:
WSP and ATR.doc
and our SETA_claims page

Cash Flow
Focussing on the employee, when management is concerned with daily operational activities, is still a bit of a luxury for many managers and business owners. The fact is that many companies have reached a point where they have proved profitability on paper, but in reality, cash flow is a problem.

The reasons identified for this include:

Slow payment by creditors - especially government and some large corporates.
Banks - the waiting period imposed on cheque clearances and cumbersome process of obtaining finance
Bureaucracy - the plethora of paperwork and documentation that has to be completed for compliance with legislation and contractual obligations.
Expansion programmes - the planning and execution
Labour Law - understanding it and remaining compliant
A lack of urgency in the completion of tasks by staff
Poor budgetary planning

Not only do the above factors contribute to cash flow problems, but they also contribute greatly to the stress levels of your average SME management and/or owners.

The most useful source of information and enlightenment on how to ensure the smooth running of your finances has come to me via my membership of a group of SME's known as the Business Warriors. The founder, Peter Carruthers has established himself as a respected and knowledgable entity in the world of small business today.

Membership (at approx R150-00 per month) of this group gives you a certain and extremely necessary insight into the problems and innovative solutions that are out there in small business today.

Follow this link to one of the most valuable and relevant areas of information available to the small business owner!

In addition, our own most recent Management Development workshops have brought certain issues to the table:

Employee Tendencies

South Africa's young adults are bright and capable, but not necessarily keen! The 18 to 26 year old group of employees seem to be showing certain traits that make it difficult for management to operate at an optimum level.

There is limited ownership or responsibility.
There is little sense of urgency.
There is a culture of entitlement.
There is a general lack of pride in the workplace and within the individuals.

These are areas of learning that are being addressed and incorporated into each and every workshop we offer today!

Management Challenges

Management on the other hand, face their own challenges:

Balancing an open style of management with getting the job done on time.
Cross cultural communication and acceptance from all parties.
The feeling of marginalisation amongst minority groups
Finding the time to pay attention to productivity, legislation, development planning and employee matters in a fast and dynamic environment
Coping with traditional culture of employee's not to question authority
Coping with stress - surveys have shown that South African business owners are the third most stressed group in the world!

Once again we are in a position to address these areas of learning within our workshops.

What then appears to be the solution?

As we see it, managers need to take a step back and work at their job as opposed to working in their job. Taking time out to observe and think about the future is the one most productive exercise any manager can perform.

What should they be looking for?

Firstly - Their own vision......
Is everyone still on track to implement the vision of the directors and management of the company?
Is this vision still relevant? Does it need honing and/or adaptation or a 180 degree turnaround?

Secondly - Your staff......
Employees are your most valuable resource and assett. Are they well maintained?
Can you find all the paperwork necessary for them within a second? Are they able to operate as individuals? Do they understand benchmarking?

Concentrating on Vision
There is no excuse! Take time off to think! Keep on challenging yourself and your ideas - incorporate De Bono's 6 hat thinking technique at least once a month - if not more often.

Our management workshop and advanced communications workshop incorporate the De Bono 6 hat thinking if you require any assistance on this!

Concentrating on Staff
Let us use the following analogy:

If you were to purchase a car, the first thing you would do would be to shop around and take a good look at the models available on the market. When looking for employees, have a good look around! Pay sufficient attention to the recruitment process to ensure that you have the best available selection to choose from.

Once you have settled on a certain make of car, you would want to decide on the model. Similarly with job candidates, once you have decided on your candidates to interview, you need to whittle them down to a shortlist.

Now that you have the make and model of the car you have in mind, you would start looking at the best available price and/or supplier. This is where relationship building really enters the picture. To decide on the final incumbent, takes a bit of relationship building from both of you. Is this person someone you can work with for a few years? Do they have the same passion for the industry, company, business practice as you do?

The next step in purchasing the car would be to ensure that you are satisfied with your final purchase. You will most probably check out all the extras and take it for a final test drive. How do you test drive a potential employee? Using a practical interview has become common practice in many companies. Let the applicant demonstrate their skills to you in various ways.

Our interviewing skills workshop can be of great assistance to you with this process.

Okay! Decision taken! Now for the paperwork!

In both cases, cars and employee's, it is wise and necessary to have the contractual agreements in place prior to taking delivery!!

Where to from here?

As you would no doubt proudly introduce your new car to many of your friends, an induction process needs to be followed for the staff member as well. This remains true, whether we are speaking of a new staff member or one that has recently been promoted and is taking on new duties.

The induction process needs to include all expectations from the company's perspective, preferably a standard operating procedure for the company, clear instructions on the policies and procedures that the new staff member is expected to follow and preferably someone to "hold their hand"

I'd like you to read the preceding paragraph again!!!

The "Standard Operating Procedure"

This document (the operating manual) should be a well compiled, well read, well used, occasionally altered, procedure and policy book that documents the general requirements for all staff members, the expected duties at individual posts, the company standards, vision and mission as well as the disciplinary procedures and appeals process.

Incidently, in case you missed it, that was HUGE JOB NUMBER ONE for most SME managers!

To assist Small Business Owners, we at Staff Training have put together a package of links and downloads that will make this onerous task slightly easier. At the very least, it should assist you via reassurance that your documentation is up to scratch.

This will be an ongoing process and we invite you to visit this page often to access the new documentation as it becomes available to you.

Please also email us at to add your requests for information that you are unable to find on the list.

Employee files and good business practice

Letter of appointment guideline
Why performance appraisals?
Performance appraisal template
Certificate of Service guideline


Disciplinary procedures guideline
Notice to attend a disciplinary hearing guideline
Disciplinary hearing checklist guideline
Employees rights guideline
Employees appeal letter guideline
First written warning guideline
Final written warning guideline
Dismissal letter guideline
Record for employee file guideline
Basic conditions of employment act

Useful links regarding employment procedures, legalities and policies

Various Basic Guides to Employment from the Department of Labour
Forms and sample documents from the Department of Labour
Legislation documents from the Department of Labour
Useful documents from the Department of Labour
ccma website
Registration docs for UIF and other SARS docs (SARS e-filing)

Useful information and guidelines regarding training, learnerships and government policies

National Skills Strategy 2005 to 2010
State of Skills in South Africa
Human Resources development strategy