Nobody likes being the bearer of bad news, which is why economic downturns may tempt your employees to keep their mouths shut about problems they may have encountered. (They want to dodge your wrath as well as a possible pink slip.) Yet it's essential for them to speak their minds, especially when times get tough. A minor glitch nipped in the bud now may prevent needless time and money wasted tomorrow. So keep the communication lines open and support a blame-free environment.

Excerpted from Entrepreneur magazine, July 2001