A Lesson in Human Resources: Essential Knowledge for all Entrepreneurs

As you know by now, every week we welcome talented bloggers to capture what Threads, the Business of Fashion Accelerator Program is all about. They play a key role in engaging with industry related discussions and get an exclusive insiders look on the program. Our HR Module was joined by Lifestyle blogger, Chloe Farley.

On the 26th of February, the Thread’s entrepreneurs attended an informative class titled Best Practice in Human Capital. This class dealt with the topic of human resources and shared key insights into issues relating to organizational design, recruitment, retention and legality with the entrepreneurs. Possessing and practicing good knowledge relating to human resources is an essential component to ensuring the success of any business, making this pivotal information for the fashion entrepreneurs. And what better guest speaker to have than Pascale Hoare, director of Extraordinary Solutions, in collaboration with EOH.

Organizational design refers to how one decides to put together a team and it was the first aspect of human resources discussed at the class. According to Hoare, “organizational design is about having the right number of people, with the right skills, in the right place, with the right attitude, doing the right work, at the right cost.” When setting up a team, it is important for one to consider what the worker’s capacity should be as well as what the team should cost in order to run. Although there are numerous aspects to consider when putting together a team, the most important component in ensuring a team’s success is leadership, as it continues to underpin all the stages of human resources. According to Ian Fuhr, CEO of the Sorbet group, “You cannot lead people if you demand their respect. You have to create a working environment in which people motivate themselves, where they feel a part of something bigger.”

There are numerous ways in which one can practice good leadership, however the most important aspect with regards to organizational design relates to vision articulation. Hoare advises that the entrepreneurs should make sure that their staff knows the business’s vision, in other words, where you want the business to go and what you want it to achieve. “Being a great leader is like being a parent. You need to grow and encourage your staff while showing them where you are going,” says Hoare. In order to be a good leader one must not only work on their vision, but also with their staff. Hoare further advises that the entrepreneurs should work on their staff’s strengths while strengthening their weaknesses. “A lot of the time, people work in their business and not on their business and this causes you to lose your vision,” says Hoare.

Hoare went on to inform the entrepreneurs about the various types of team structures that can be employed when working on one’s organizational design. The first is called inline structure, this type of structure is clearly defined and bureaucratic. The second is called the functional structure, which is collaborative and encourages more staff involvement. The third is called the aligned structure, and if you have over 50 staff members, South African law requires you to make use of this organizational design structure because this structure allows the staff to get involved in decision making. This is beneficial as it supports South Africa’s skills development legislation, employment equity and employment skills plans. The fourth type of structure is known as a project-based structure and as the name implies, it applies only on a project to project basis. The final type is called a Matrix structure; it is similar to a project-based structure but is more appropriate to employ when outsourcing.

Recruitment was the second aspect relating to human resources discussed at the class. Recruitment is an important consideration for entrepreneurs because finding quality staff is one of the biggest challenges entrepreneurs will face while running their business. “I started sourcing people from Gumtree, Facebook and OLX and it didn’t work out. I then began going to material shops and found and sourced ladies that could sow. The challenges that I usually face with them is that they usually know how to do one task and not the whole job. Training is costly and time consuming. They also sometimes lack creativity and that is something you cannot teach,” says Evans Zemba, a Thread’s fashion entrepreneur.

>>> PART2: Hiring, Retention and Legality


A South African girl who has a passion for informing and connecting others to information that aims to better the readers lives.