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Start-up rules for managing

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Managing people is sometimes easier said than done – especially for people who are not natural leaders. SANDRA SWANEPOEL, MD at Sage HR & Payroll outlines a few principles to get the most out of your employees.

If your small business is to grow and prosper, you need to hire the right people and then manage them in a way that gets the best from them. Even if you are not a natural leader, managing people is a skill that you can learn and improve with practice and with the right advice.

Here are a few golden principles for people management in a small business.

1. Learn to delegate

The first and sometimes hardest people management lesson for a small business owner to learn is to delegate work to the team. It can be difficult to let go if you’re hiring employees for the first time after doing everything yourself. As tempting as it might be to hold onto as many responsibilities as you can and to micro-manage when you do delegate, it’s important to share the load.

Start out with repetitive tasks that drain your time and add little value to the business – for example, admin tasks. Monitor how employees are doing, be there to support them, and invest the necessary resources in training them. Most people are eager to learn, so if they’re properly motivated they can save you a lot of time.

2. Understand the basics of labour law

Entrepreneurs often lack patience with paperwork and compliance, but it’s essential to understand labour law if you want to run a harmonious and productive workplace. With our progressive labour laws, you can’t dismiss people without following the proper processes.

South African labour law sets out rigid procedures for disciplining an employee and you must follow them to the letter. Keep accurate records if you hold a disciplinary hearing so that you can defend yourself in case the employee wants to challenge your decision at the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA).

Also, be sure to document the rules of your workplace, the requirements of the job, and your policies so that employees know what is expected of them. Speak to an expert if you aren’t familiar with the complexities of South Africa’s legal framework.

3. Treat people with professionalism and consistency rather than familiarity

Owners of small businesses often fall into the trap of treating staff members as friends or family. This can make matters more difficult for you if you need to correct a staff member’s errant behaviour or say no when they ask for a favour. Be friendly but professional; don’t allow the lines between friend and manager to become blurred.

4. Communicate clearly

A good manager is a good communicator, so be straightforward with your staff members. Make sure your employees know what their tasks are, how these need to be done, and what their deadlines are. Give them regular feedback – positive and corrective – to help them improve. And be honest with them about how the business is doing and your strategies for the future. A transparent management style helps to keep staff members motivated.

5. Be fair and consistent

Like most human beings, you probably have your biases and like some members of your team more than others. It is important, however, that you treat everyone according to the same consistent set of principles. Be alert to your own preferences and how they manifest when you interact with the team.

Nothing is worse for staff motivation than seeing the boss give one or two members of the team preferential treatment simply because he or she likes them more.

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Homemation creates comfort through smart homes

Home automation is more than just turning the lights on and off, Homemation’s Gedaliah Tobias tells BRYAN TURNER

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The world is taking interior design notes from the Danish, in a style of living called hygge (pronounced hoo-gah). Its meaning varies from person to person: some see hygge as a warm fire on a cold winter’s night, others see it as a cup of hot coffee in the morning. The amount of “good feelings” one gets from these relaxing activities depends on what one values as indulgent.

But how does technology fit into this “art of feeling good”?

We asked Homemation marketing manager Gedaliah Tobias to take us through a fully automated home of the future and show us how automation creates comfort and good feelings.

“The house is powered by Control4, which you can think of as the brain of the smart home,” says Tobias. “It controls everything from the aircon to smart vacuum cleaners.”

The home of the future is secured by a connected lock. It acts like other locks with keypads and includes a key in the event of a power interruption. The keypad is especially useful to those who want to provide temporary access to visitors, staff, or simply kids who might lose their parents’ house keys.

“The keypad is especially useful for temporary access,” says Tobias. “For example, if you have a garden service that needs to use the home for the day, they can be given a code that only turns off the perimeter alarm beams in the garden for the day and time. If that code is used outside of the day and time range, users can set up alerts for their armed response to be alerted. This type of smart access boosts security.”

Once inside, one is greeted with a “scene” – a type of recipe for electronic success. The scene starts by turning on the lights, then by alerting the user to disarm the alarm. After the alarm is disarmed, the user can start another more complicated scene.

“Users can request customised scene buttons,” says Tobias. “For example, if I press the ‘Dinner call’ scene, the lights start to flash in the bedroom, there’s an announcement from the smart speakers, the blinds start to come down, the lighting is shifted to the dinner table. Shifting focus with lighting creates a mood to bring the house together for dinner.”

Homemation creates these customised scene buttons to enable users to control their homes without having to use another device. In addition to scene buttons, there are several ways to control the smart home.

 “Everything in the smart home is controllable from your phone, the touchscreens around the house, the TV, and the dedicated remote control. Everyone is different, so having multiple ways to control the house is a huge value add.”

We ask Tobias where Homemation recommends non-smart home users should start on their smart home journey.

“Before anything, the Control4 infrastructure needs to be set up. This involves a lot of communications and electrical cabling to be run to different areas of the home to enable connectivity throughout the home. After the infrastructure is set up, the system is ready for smart home devices, like lighting and sound.”

“For new smart home users, the best bang for their buck would be to start with lighting once the infrastructure is set up. Taking it one step at a time is wise.”

•    For more information, visit https://www.homemation.co.za/

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Face App grabs SA attention

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South Africans generated more than 100 000 search queries for “Face App” on Wednesday, while only generating 50 000 for “Mandela Day”. The Internet wentcrazy over the two-year-old app, which uses artificial intelligence to create a rendering of what users might look like in a few decades. Face App went viral as users posted their aged likenesses on social media in the #faceappchallenge. Privacy experts, however, warned that the app (made in Russia) may pose a threat to users’ privacy as it stores photos on its servers, with US Senate minority leader, Chuck Schumer, appealing to the FBI to investigate the app. 

In other top searches on Google this week, “Johnny Clegg” garnered more than 500 000 search queries on Tuesday as the news of his passing broke. The ‘White Zulu’ of Juluka and Savuka fame was an internationally acclaimed musician who was also an important figure in the fight against apartheid. Tributes to Clegg have been flooding media and social media over the past couple of days. Clegg succumbed to pancreatic cancer at the age of 66.

More than 200 000 search queries were generated for “Mark Batchelor” on Monday after the former soccer star was brutally gunned down outside his Olivedale home in Gauteng. Investigations into the shooting are still ongoing. Batchelor played for Orlando Pirates, Wits University, Kaizer Chiefs, Mamelodi Sundowns, Moroka Swallows and Bafana Bafana. 

“Jacob Zuma” also garnered more than 100 000 search queries on Monday as he made his first, much-anticipated appearance in front of the Zondo Commission on state capture. 

On Sunday “Macdonald Ndou” picked up more than 10 000 search queries after reports of theMuvhango actor’s arrest made the rounds. Ndou was held on various charges including extortion and kidnapping. The Hawks have reportedly provisionally withdrawn charges against the TV star, but a spokesperson said the decision to withdraw does not mean the charges will not be reinstated.

“Serena Williams” garnered more than 50 000 searches on Saturday as the tennis superstar suffered a 6-2, 6-2 defeat against Simona Halep in a Wimbledon final that lasted just 56 minutes. Williams later told Agence France Presse, “She [Halep] played out of her mind” and “I was like a deer in headlights”.

Last Friday, South Africans produced more than 20 000 search queries for “Duduzane Zuma” as the Randburg Magistrates Court found the former first son not guilty of a charge of culpable homicide. In February 2014, Zuma was involved in a car crash that took the life of Phumzile Dube when his vehicle crashed into the taxi she was travelling in.

Search trends information is gleaned from data collated by Google based on what South Africans have been searching for and asking Google. Google processes more than 40 000 search queries every second. This translates to more than a billion searches per day and 1.2 trillion searches per year, worldwide. Live Google search trends data is available at https://www.google.co.za/trends/hottrends#pn=p40 

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