Running a business often involves leading the employees who work together to make your enterprise a success.
A key factor in leading an effective and efficient team is creating a clear vision of the business’ goals, which sets the framework within which employees operate. Failing to do so can result in misunderstandings, unhappy staff and can ultimately lead to labour issues.
Have a strategy in place
“An effective business leader should set a well-defined strategy to provide direction for a business and its employees.
“To ensure that staff have a clear understanding of what is required of them, the strategy needs to be communicated to them effectively and often,” says Leigh Livanos, head of start-up business at Standard Bank.
“Together with the fixed rules outlined in an employee’s job description, this sets the standard for staff to take accountability for their performance and provides a basis for ethical behavior,” says Livanos.
Use probation to see if people are a good fit
The best way to see whether someone will be able to live and execute the vision of the business, and meet their job requirements, is to hire them on a probationary basis.
If after this period, it is obvious that the employee is not the right fit for the position, their services can be terminated.
During the probation period it is advisable to document what the employee has failed to do, what you have done to help, and why the decision to dismiss has been taken.
A person on probation should have access to:
- Detailed job requirements and a letter of appointment that clearly sets out what the consequences of inadequate performance will be
- Evaluation, instruction, training, guidance or counselling during the probationary period. These sessions should be recorded and become part of the employee’s file
- The reasons why they are being terminated during the probationary period, if applicable.
Follow the correct procedures
In instances where permanent staff don’t do what is required of them, disciplinary action may the only way forward. As this can result in dismissal, it is vital that the correct procedures are followed.
- Advising the employee that their performance is lacking
- Putting in place and documenting a performance improvement process that outlines clear targets, feedback and the development required.
If there is no improvement, it could be necessary to move on to a disciplinary process.
At this stage, up to three verbal warnings can be issued to the employee, and they are at each stage given opportunities to improve. A record of these must be kept.
If circumstances still do not change, a written warning can be issued and the formal disciplinary process begins. This involves:
- Giving the employee sufficient time to prepare for a hearing
- Allowing them to nominate a fellow staff member to represent them in a hearing
- Allowing both sides to call and cross-examine witnesses and present documentary evidence
- Having an impartial chairperson appointed to conduct the hearing
- Understanding that, if a dismissal occurs, the matter can be referred to a Bargaining Council or the CCMA within 30 days of the dismissal taking place.
Employees also have rights. If an employee is dissatisfied with a work-related matter, they have the right to lodge a grievance with their immediate manager.
If the grievance is not attended to it can be escalated through the company to the CEO.
Failure to deal with the matter effectively can then result in the matter being referred to a Bargaining Council or the CCMA for resolution.
Reasons given for grievances
Typically, grievances are lodged for allegations that include:
- Unfair remuneration practices
- Sexual harassment
- Poor employment conditions
- Failure by the employer to abide by labour laws.
“The primary lesson to be learned is that unpleasant labour situations can be avoided or quickly resolved if employees are happy and feel part of a team working towards a defined, understood objective.
“The leadership of a business owner who respects them and lives the values of the company is crucial. Strong leadership means a win-win for all concerned,” says Livanos.