Managing a business is stressful work. In the thick of things, it can be tempting to try to save time with shortcuts that hurt your company in the long run, or to preserve focus by shutting out distractions — such as employees’ needs. Protect your business from these three destructive management traps:

Discount your team’s opinions.

Richard Branson describes listening as one of the hallmarks of experienced leadership:

“If you want to stand out as a leader, a good place to begin is by listening. […] Leaders who are great listeners are often terrific at uncovering and putting in place strategies and plans that have a big impact.”

Ignoring your employees’ input hurts their investment in your company’s success — why should they care about the company, if the company doesn’t care about them? When your employees have ideas, give them real consideration; even if you decide not to act on them, you’ll communicate to your team that you value their contributions and their initiative. Ask them for feedback on important decisions, and show that you’ve taken it into account. They’ll keep strategizing for you, and that’s exactly what you want.

Throw your weight around. identifies this one as a major factor in employee dissatisfaction:

“Want to demotivate people instantly? Blow up at them for innocent mistakes. Make rash personnel moves that disrupt their sense of security. Use crude language to describe an em­­­ployee.”

elephant seals

Your employees may work for you, but they want to feel like they work with you — that they’re part of your solution, not part of your problem. They know you’re the boss; explicitly reminding them of your superior status, either through words or actions, breeds resentment, not respect. Praise your employees publicly, but address problems in private, in person, and with solutions in mind.

Shut employees out of your schedule.

Here’s what Lindsay Broder has to say about managers who use the phrase “I don’t have time for this”:

“Are you serious? You’re the BOSS. It’s your job to make time. Rather than flat-out rejecting your employee’s request for your time, block out a few minutes in the near future when you can give your employee your undivided attention.”


When you do make time — even just a little — for your employees, you’re telling them that you appreciate their needs and recognize their value to your business. But where do you find this time, when you have so many hats to wear? Just like money, time starts to pay dividends once you make an initial investment: take a moment to evaluate your time budget and identify areas where you can save. Are you still printing invoices and sending them through the post? Give email invoicing a try. Do your customers have to call you to place orders? Consider investing in online ordering. Can your team share files easily? Give Google Drive or DropBox a try, and make sharing and editing happen faster. Need more time-saving tips? Small Business Trends has 50. (Not that many? Bloomberg has 6.)

How do you keep bad habits out of your business? Share your own do’s and don’ts with us in the comments.