One of the biggest mistakes that small business owners make when they employ staff is to make them part of their extended families. Do that and you have lost control from the get-go.

Maintaining control of your staff is critical to ensuring that everyone works well together, in the same direction and towards a common goal. Most importantly, it will ensure that everyone is working to maintain the highest quality of service and/or quality control.

It stands to reason then that a close eye needs to be kept on the staff to ensure that they meet their quotas and that they maintain a high standard of quality work ethic.

Often consistent and poor conduct or lack of compliance to laid down procedures is a direct reflection of poor management. Usually it means that management lack the relevant skills, or that they are unwilling to manage or control staff effectively.

This will often result in issues such as (but not limited to):

• Staff spending hours talking to friends on the phone (irrespective of whether they use the office phone or their personal cellular phones). Time spent in frivolous chatter is actually ‘theft’ of company time. It cuts into that particular staff member’s productivity time and if there are other employees in the vicinity, it disrupts them as well. In essence it costs the company in time, productivity and in all probability – quality.

• Quality of work. Most often, the first thing that goes when the staff are not effectively managed is the quality of their work. It’s pretty much a case of ‘If no-body is taking any notice of what I am doing, I don’t need to take care of what I am doing.’

• Another issue that constantly arises when staff are not managed correctly and efficiently is another ‘theft’ of time. It’s when the employees perform their personal and private chores during office hours. I recently came across a situation where a client’s employee was fixing printers on the side. The client’s printer broke down and despite the fact that one of the employee’s duties was to maintain the electronic equipment and despite the fact that he repaired the printer during office hours, this employee actually presented his employer with an invoice for repairing the printer – quite a cheek, I am sure you would agree!

Nikki is an Internal Auditor and Business Administration Specialist who can be contacted on 083 702 8849 or or

Small Business Forum

The Small Business Forum is an independent network of entrpreneurs and small business owners established to encourage and support the creation, growth and development of small business in South Africa.

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