A Stitch in Time, Saves Nine

While the whole world is still finding ways to deal with the Covid-19 situation, it is important for companies to start embarking on survival strategies during this period and growth strategies when we return to work and for when things return to normal.

The government lockdown came at a time when our performance management practices were still geared to face-to-face-type management styles. Now leaders are faced with a situation where they have to manage employees that are sitting at home. Asking an employee to work from home without proper guidelines and goals will result in a fruitless exercise. Most employees will treat this lockdown period as if they are on standby shift, instead of really putting the 8 hours of work that companies need to pull through this situation.

My article is aimed at assisting leaders in strategizing for when the lockdown period comes to an end. While we are not sure if this will be the only lockdown period we facing as a country, should we have a similar situation in the future, we should be well prepared. A stitch in time, saves nine.

The departure point here is about employee well-being upon return to the workplace. Most employees will have exhausted their leave days and they will be worried about their December holidays. Managers will be requesting employees to work overtime to try and cover for lost time. Now, what must we do? I see combos of soft skills courses like Performance Management, Time Management, Personal Finances, Employee Relations, Customer Service, etc. coming into place to assist both managers and employees to pull through the tough times that are coming. By the way, employees still have the skills to do the job, and now we are looking at motivating them to do more. Thus, my heading: A stitch in Time, Saves Nine.

Management by objectives (MBO) far outsmarts management by walking around at this point in time and going forward. Managers need to understand that their paycheck comes from achieving objectives through other people and not seeing employees looking busy. The new type of employees say: tell me what you want done and by when, and I will do it for you. This simply means that employees can even wake up at 03H00 and start working on a project so that they can have breakfast with their family in the morning, and still make sure that the project is completed. The setting of “SMART” goals becomes a necessity. A stitch in time, saves nine.

And as employees sit at home exhausting their leave, chances are that on their return they will still feel entitled to their annual leave. The absence of their annual leave will lead them to take other forms of leave like sick leave, unpaid leave, etc. This is where it becomes important to educate our employees on employee relations and management of personal finances. No company wants to spend time going through the time-consuming disciplinary actions with the risk of losing highly experienced employees, let alone the cost thereof and the cost of the CCMA. A stitch in time, saves nine.

All employees have a financial obligation to their families. The absence of one paycheck can see a family going into loans that they will not be able to pay. Most employees have never had formal training on managing their finances, and this denies them an opportunity of enjoying their hard-earned money, and this does not only apply to lower-level employees. Companies did their part by giving employees shares, and after the shares matured, employees cashed in on the money and as we speak, they have nothing to show of those shares. Financial training is important in this period as most companies might not be able to afford the salary increases that the Unions will be asking for, and this can lead to strikes and more disruptions in the daily running of the company. It is time to educate employees on the running of their personal finances. Employees with positive bank balances will be happy and will surely be the most productive employees. A stitch in time, saves nine.

My last word of advice on this issue is that make sure you chose the right training provider and very importantly, the correct person to facilitate training courses. Well-written training material is of no value if the facilitator does not have the required skill to spark the correct discussions and debates during training sessions. A lot of knowledge is absorbed when the course delegates are engaged in the learning environment.

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