Shining the spotlight on our collective morality

Shining the spotlight on our collective morality

Recently while considering the direction South Africa is taking and the view people all over the world have of South Africa, I considered a variety of words and attributes that might depict the current situation aptly. 

Consider the meaning of the following and apply them to various situations, individuals and businesses in our country. 
Ask yourself if leaders are honest, ethical, have high morals and values, abide by codes of conduct and behaviour that is acceptable both nationally and internationally, and if they abide by the laws of the country and business law.  

Consider the following:  
  • Honesty, truthfulness and openness – Is it the same as you would expect from others?  
  • Ethics, moral principles and values – If you test your actions against your principles? 
  • Goodness and virtue – If you are upright in all aspects of your personal behaviour?
  • Standards of life – What your attitudes and philosophy are?
  • Law-abiding  – Are you aware of all your actions and the agreed social code?

In many instances South Africa is an amoral country, where some leaders in business and politics are unprincipled, unethical, dishonest, unscrupulous, immoral and wanting in principles. That applies to people who will not stand up for what they believe to be right. 

We cannot sit on the fence or follow the crowd. We must each stand up for what we believe to be right.
What can we do to change this? What can be done to change the perception of South Africa that prevails both nationally and internationally?  

We must ask ourselves the question, how far do we in every detail of our lives conform to the above attributes?

Where in my life do I cut corners or fall short of the high standards listed above?

When I consider my family, do we live accordingly to these standards? Do I set a clear example in my circle of friends and in my working environment? 

What can we do to change behaviour and what can be done to change the perception of South Africa that prevails nationally and internationally?  

The country needs a new national convention, where we take stock of where we are, where we need to go, what is needed to get us there, and what the minimum requirements and duties of individual have to be. 

Des Squire is a managing member at Amsi and Associates. Contact  
Personal development: urging sisters to do it for themselves

Personal development: urging sisters to do it for themselves

Much has been said recently about the position of women in business and the need for education as a means of unlocking businesswomen’s self-belief.

None of us know what the future holds in store. What we do know is that change is inevitable. To be adequately equipped for change, it is essential that we develop the necessary skills to deal with such change. 

The question is, how do we prepare for changes in our work environment, how do we predict an unknown future in our work environment and most importantly, how should women prepare for the future? 

Any woman working for a company that has developed a culture of learning and established the importance of the role women play in business is lucky. Such a company would have taken care of the development needs of all employees, irrespective of gender. 
In addition, such a company would have developed a learning path or a continuous development programme for women, as well as men during the course of their career with them. 

However, to remain in demand in the workplace, it is essential that women in particular continue on a path of personal and professional development. Women need to develop and demonstrate their leadership skills, communication skills, inter-personal skills, ability to be innovative and ability to compete with their male counterparts. 

These are some of the skills sought by employers and are always in demand in the workplace, but historically seem to have been the domain of men only. This is not to say women did not possess such qualities, because they certainly did, it is just that many women were held back for some reason. 

Many of the people I train say: “The company does not offer such programmes for women.” 
The result is that women do nothing to develop these skills. Many sit back waiting for others to train them or feel they are in a “no way forward or no future” situation. 

It is time such women took control of their own development and future. It is time such women did something to be noticed in the workplace. It is time such women took an active role in promoting themselves, their abilities and capabilities. It is time such women took ownership of their future. 

What you should do: 

• Identify the areas you want to improve on and choose one or two. Concentrate on them over the next six to 12 months;
• Develop a long- and short-term self-development plan. It can include further education and training to develop the skills you need to advance in your career;
• Consider your current position and the company you work for. What does your company do and what are the essential skills required in the company? After you have identified these skills, undertake some training to ensure that you become multi-skilled; 
• Do not jeopardise your future by concentrating only on the skills necessary to do your current job? Multi-skilling is the way of the future; 
• Finally, broaden your horizons by learning as much you can about the world of business.
When was the last time your read the business section in the press? What changes have taken place recently in the economy, your profession or industry?
No one can predict the future, but you can stay ahead of the competition by staying informed and by taking charge of your personal development. 

Des Squire is a managing member at AMSI and Associates. Call 082 800 9057 or email
Succession and retention planning.  A transformation experience

Succession and retention planning. A transformation experience

LEADERSHIP and managerial succession is a fact of life for any company or public enterprise. It stands to reason therefore that successful succession is something that must be planned. 

An important factor in our ever-changing economy is the retirement, or retrenchment of a previous generation of leaders. Coupled with this is the appointment of inexperienced leaders and managers resulting either directly or indirectly from BEE and EE legislated requirements. As a result succession planning is becoming a distinct strategic imperative.

Historically, succession planning was only used for the most senior positions in companies as we have seen recently in the case of Pick n’ Pay and Sean Summers successor. The old approach was more about organisational needs and only applied to the very top echelons in business. 

The modern approach which I advocate should take into account the skills development needs of both the private and public sectors. In addition, unforeseen needs have been established resulting from the introduction of Employment Equity (EE) and BEE that make the old historic approach unworkable and inappropriate for South African companies and the public sector.

Both Public and private sectors need to cultivate a culture of ongoing learning and self development within their respective organisations. Employees, both male and female, should be encouraged to make career decisions that will guide them along a specific career path. This would need to be carefully established and clarified with each potential candidate to ensure participation in the succession planning project on a “no guarantee” basis. In addition, there should be an agreement by the employee to actively participate and maintain a commitment to ongoing training and development. The emphasis should be on balancing the aspirations of the employee with the predetermined skills development and managerial need of the organisation.    

It is for this reason companies need to take a proactive approach to leadership and management development and to adopt a best practice approach and ensure more from their succession plan than just a strategy for loss.

In her publication, Succession Planning as a Transformational Experience, Barbara Ross-Denroche explained that “retention and succession planning is a combined process that should be recognised as a strategic imperative for future success”. She further stated that “as organisations will be forced to compete aggressively to attract and retain the very best leaders they must commit to the development of an integrated and progressive succession and leadership development system to ensure they have the future skills required for sustainability”

In order to develop an effective succession strategy in both the public and private sectors there is a need to recognise that each entity must develop a strategy that fits its own specific needs in terms of skills and values. This strategy would need to be developed in such a way that current legislation is complied with and full advantage is taken of the benefits to be derived from the National Skills Development Strategy. Companies and public enterprises should develop a Corporate Qualifications Framework (CQF) for succession planning. 
This can be achieved by: 
• Ensuring the development of a culture of continuous learning and development
• Defining clearly the specific behaviours, skills and values leaders need in order for them to succeed now and in the future
• Ensuring the specific needs of the company have been identified and agreed by all relevant role-players. This is not just an HR department issue
• Making sure employees are aware of the succession planning strategy of the company and are prepared to participate and actively become involved. There must be “buy-in” by all role-players
• There must be “buy-in” and on-going commitment from senior and top-level management
• Making use of assessments, recognition of prior learning (RPL), interviews, staff profiling and performance appraisal in order to make correct placement and development decisions
• Developing industry and “need specific” programmes aligned to the NQF that fulfil specific requirements in terms of your specific Corporate Qualifications Framework (CQF) for succession planning.

© Des Squire (Managing Member) AMSI and ASSOCIATES cc Cell 0828009057

Previous knowledge as the path to further study

THE National Policy and Criteria for the Implementation of Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) (Amended in 2019) amends the National Policy for the Implementation of RPL published in the Government Gazette in 2014.

This 2019 Amended RPL Policy and Criteria provides for the implementation of RPL within the context of the National Qualifications Framework (NQF) Act 67 of 2008. Also, it positions RPL in relation to the overarching principles and priorities of the NQF. The objectives of this 2019 Amended RPL Policy and Criteria are to ensure that the objectives of the NQF Act are met and in particular to facilitate access to mobility and progression within education, training and career paths.

Sometimes it can be difficult to find the time and effort to fit an entire course into our lives and the lives of our employees, especially for those already working and juggling other commitments. Despite the convenience of online training courses, there may still be an issue with time. This is where the RPL comes into play.

Gaining recognition for previous skills, experience and/or qualifications can shorten the time it takes to gain a qualification or skills programme and allows you or your employees to become eligible for qualifications you may not otherwise be able to attain. The South African Qualifications Authority facilitates the progression of students through qualifications by awarding credits for learning outcomes they have already achieved.

Getting these credits may allow for entry into a full qualification, a degree course or provide partial credit towards a full qualification. RPL broadens access into formal learning by granting credit for student achievement though other formal, non-formal or informal learning. RPL involves the completion of an assessment by means of a portfolio of evidence or an External Integrated Summative Assessment, in the case of the new Quality Council for Trades and Occupations qualifications, to determine the extent to which that individual’s previous learning relates to the learning outcomes and assessment criteria of the chosen qualification.

Many companies and service providers fail historically disadvantaged learners by not taking steps to introduce RPL initiatives. This is against the spirit and letter of the NQF. Many companies fail to implement a policy on RPL simply because they do not know how to go about it or what process to follow. Now is the time to make a change to ensure that the spirit and letter of the NQF is adhered to and that people who should be benefiting from RPL are in fact doing so.

Des Squire is a director at AMSI and Associates. Contact

Let’s get innovative

Let’s get innovative

COMPANIES devote an enormous amount of energy talking about the importance of innovation. But here’s the truth: most companies can’t innovate because everyone’s job is to maintain the status quo.

You and everyone else in your organisation are snowed under making sure you’re doing what your job description says you should be doing. Even if “innovation” is included as a KPI, few companies have an effective innovation process in place. This is because companies are set up to concentrate on the business they do and to make profit.

Everyone’s role is defined and structured to create the best environment for doing that one thing as efficiently as possible. Success means doing the same thing you’ve always done, maybe just a little better each time. Change is discouraged – it’s disruptive and each failure is kept on file. In today’s dynamic environment, your entire industry can change in the time it takes to say “we’re innovative” and as Peter Drucker said, “The enterprise that does not innovate inevitably ages and declines. In a period of rapid change such as the present decline will be fast.” It’s never been more imperative to stop talking about innovation and actually start doing something about it.

Innovation is not to be feared and is not that difficult to encourage and instill in employees. One of the main reasons organisations fail to innovate consistently is that it involves creativity and many managers associate creativity with chaos. Managers like to manage instead of lead and creativity simply refuses to be controlled. Many of our managers still live in the dark ages of apartheid and refuse to encourage innovative thinking. The good news is that you can manage and plan strategies to encourage and cultivate innovation and creativity by:

  • Setting the right achievable goals. Teams should be tasked with tackling specific challenges based on previous successes and achievements. They should however, be encouraged to stretch and to achieve greater success.
  • Give people freedom to create. Bureaucracy, office politics, and the requirement to keep the ship steady all inhibit innovation. Managers must start working outside of the box and must rock the boat from time to time. Encourage people to get results by doing things differently.
  • Designate a senior person as an innovation champion. Decision by committees is the fastest road to failure. Innovation champions make things happen and bring about change, challenge and new ideas.
  • Diversity is a good thing. Nothing kills innovation as quickly as a bunch of people who all think the same. Diversity means nothing more than difference. Recognise the differences that exist in each individual and be prepared to discuss these differences. What is most important is that we never tell another they are wrong just because they think or believe differently to us.
  • Allow time. Some great ideas come in an unexpected moment – most don’t. It takes time to generate, evaluate, test and improve upon ideas. Don’t just jump at the first idea, consider a variety of options and choose the best one.
  • Accept some failures. Traditionally, companies are risk averse, so if an employee fears failure, they won’t try anything different. But by its very nature, innovation means trying things that have not been done before. Consequently there will always be an element of risk. We all learn from mistakes, so allow for them.
  • Reward innovation. Performance evaluations should include an assessment of the number and quality of new ideas individuals put forward (even if the ideas were not implemented). Give recognition where and when it is due.
  • Training, mentoring and coaching. An organisation that encourages and facilitates learning inspires people to greater things. Contrary to popular belief, creative thinking is a skill that can be learned. Work with employees and spend time mentoring and coaching them.

Innovation is not a requirement for companies, but then again, neither is survival.

Des Squire (Managing Member) AMSI and Associates cc.

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