Subscribe to Entrepreneur for $5

Spring Cleaning for Small Businesses

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

When was the last time you took an inventory of your business practices with an eye toward getting rid of bad habits? If you're doing any of these seven activities, now might be the time to stop.

1. Not setting the right tone by being too harsh or negative or not communicating effectively. At the beginning of a quarter, new company goals and objectives are introduced. It's a priority that your company repeats previous successes or makes up for missed targets. Managers and employees are under an immense amount of pressure to succeed. So motivating employees appropriately is key. Unfortunately, some managers have only one tool in their tool kit and it's a hammer.

Not every situation requires the hammer treatment. If you're leading a team or rely on co-workers to accomplish things to meet your goals, be sure your communication style fits the situation and the co-worker you're addressing. Remember your objective is to motivate, help people get their work done and drive the company toward success. Communicate with care, concern, openness, clarity and from a place of support. Save the hammer for the rare occasion it's warranted.

Related: How to Turn Negativity Into Creativity

2. Lacking proper written documentation of workplace issues. It's time to stop crossing your fingers and hoping you won't need performance documentation if an employment decision such as a termination goes sideways. Trying to piece together and articulate how you handled a situation after the fact may put you in jeopardy of appearing as if you didn't handle it properly. If a situation is improperly documented, this can lead to he said/she said situations and claims and legal liability.

So, start documenting things right at the start of any attempt to set an employee on the right path. Take15 minutes after a counseling session with an employee to note what was said, what you agreed to and the next steps. Send an email to the employee to follow up and be sure to continue to oversee the situation until it is resolved.

3. Avoiding difficult or uncomfortable conversations before it's too late. Many managers avoid confrontation. Delivering bad news or explaining to someone that he or she needs to turn things around can be difficult. But problems do not fix themselves. Get beyond your feelings of discomfort and begin to address issues that are holding back your team from success. Sooner or later these issues will be apparent to people outside the team and it will reflect on you. Coach employees to help them see what they need to do to meet your expectations; deal with bad performers. You will end up with bigger problems if you don't handle these issues as soon as possible.

Related: Difficult Conversations: What Not to Say

4. Not appropriately recognizing well-performing employees or providing adequate feedback. Your top performers need to know they are appreciated and respected. At times we may take for granted the consistent, great performers who make things look so easy. What if a recruiter calls and they answer the call because they believe there's a firm out there that will see their star power?! Be sure to recognize your star performers, Tell them how great they are. Invest in their further professional development. Ask them what they need to reach their desired career goal and help get them there.

5. Not properly assessing employees' skill sets. Do an inventory of your talent. Bring managers together for a performance roundtable where they discuss the strengths and opportunities of their direct reports and provide feedback to the group about their experiences with individual workers.This will be an eye-opening meeting. Managers will walk away with a more global vision of their talent and the department's or company's resources as a whole.

Related: Go on Facebook for Your Next Hire? (Infographic)

6. Not keeping a pipeline of great candidates or losing great talent. Turnover is inevitable, yet managers often are ill-prepared to fill positions quickly when employees leave. If you are in a hypercompetitive area, require managers to maintain a pipeline of qualified candidates who have passed a prescreening interview process. Court these candidates. Meet them over coffee, send them an interesting link to an article in their area of expertise or share with them exciting nonconfidential information about your company. This is worth the investment of time so you'll be able to hire a great candidate when growth or turnover warrants it.

7. Thinking that your company is immune to laws and regulations. While the number of employees you have influences the laws you must comply with, early-stage and small companies are not immune to laws and regulations. Although it is more common to hear about well-known companies' nefarious employment deeds, smaller lesser-known companies also end up in trouble. Wage and hour claims, harassment complaints, discrimination issues and wrongful- termination concerns all confront emerging companies, which need to learn to navigate these scenarios properly.

Entrepreneur Editors' Picks