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HR 101 – Maintain Control of your Staff – Part 5

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Please note that this pertains to South African Labour Law and Best Practice requirements.

So here we are, Friday again and as SMME’s you are battling to keep your heads above water, you are battling to close the deals in order to bring in the funds to pay, not only yourselves and your suppliers, but also your staff.

Yet your staff are more often than not, your biggest adversaries. They steal your time, they steal your infrastructure, and in many instances, here in South Africa, they also steal your stock and even your assets and if that is not enough they will throw the legal book (being the Basic Conditions of Employment Act) at you if you don’t follow the correct procedures when you discipline them.

It is imperative that you have a proper ‘Code of Conduct’ and a comprehensive Disciplinary Policy in place to set the boundaries. As usual though, even if you do the boundaries in place, if they are not enforced or only enforced with some, they are not worth the paper that they are written on.

One of the strangest things that I have seen in the workforce though was a fight between two male employees who were after the same female employee, who ironically was happily married and actually wasn’t even aware of the tension that she had caused. It was like watching a movie as she went about her business totally clueless about the chaos that was going on in her wake. Sadly, both of the guys were badly hurt and even when their physical wounds had healed the friction and tension that the whole fight had caused had quite a ripple effect through the entire company. People were taking sides and giving advice and some enterprising youngsters had even started a betting pool going. The effect though of course was that the whole thing had a huge negative effect on productivity and of course the quality of the work was also affected.

The bottom line of course is that it is not okay for the staff to fight or get into fist fights. It’s not okay and it shouldn’t be allowed. In the above instance, both guys had to attend a disciplinary and because their behaviour was not properly monitored and because the friction carried on (if not escalated), things got out of hand and they were both eventually dismissed. This type of behaviour should never be allowed and again in order to ensure that it doesn’t happen in the first place, strict ground rules should be enforced.

This should be documented in the Code of Conduct as well as the Disciplinary Policy.

Next time we will have a look at some more examples of what employees get up to when they are not effectively managed.