While there are few things more crucial to the success of an enterprise than a loyal and hard-working team, some leaders have been known to underestimate their most valuable assets.
If you don’t want to send top-performing employees packing -- and into the open arms of a competitor -- avoid the following leadership blunders at all costs:
1. Create a predatory culture. In one of my first sales positions, I remember working for a business owner who consistently encouraged employees to get the sale even if it meant violating a leads system supposedly based on ethics. In his eyes, it did not matter who got the commission -- all that mattered was that his company was making money.
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Eventually, one by one, the best salespeople left. And now, the company is a shadow of what it once was -- all because it was built on unethical foundations. “What impacts employees' decisions to leave a company first and foremost,” says Lynn Flinn of the women’s business network EWF International, “is management and whether they trust them.”
Leaders that cannot be trusted are fodder for the daily gossip that plagues small and large businesses alike.
2. Yell and scream. All of us know sharp business minds who just happen to be chaotic managers. One colleague I knew had a very loud and penetrating voice, that -- whether he knew it or not -- was very intimidating. While he had a good heart, he wasn’t able to express his views without yelling and screaming.
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As the business writer Amy Levin-Epstein puts it, losing your temper at work is a surefire way to undermine your authority as a manager. If you feel you may have crossed the line in this department, ask for unbiased feedback from trusted colleagues.
3. Play favorites. Nothing is more de-motivating than a business owner or manager that gives special treatment to one employee -- whether because of preexisting relationships, physical appearances or any other reason at all. This behavior festers deeply within the other team members who feel consequently slighted.
The late Cavett Robert put it this way: “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” In other words, if you don’t demonstrate that you truly have your employee’s best interests at heart, you run the risk of alienating them from the outset.