5 Bad Leadership Habits That Undercut Your Team's Productivity The employee you have to keep the closest eye on is yourself.

By Larry Alton

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.


In the entrepreneurial world, every second counts. In the early stages of a startup, you'll only have limited resources despite operating under high pressure and tight deadlines. Every decision you make could potentially set a course for success or failure.

To make the environment even more stressful, your team is exceptionally volatile. Fewer people on staff means less tolerance for simple mistakes or gaps in productivity. One employee leaving could disrupt your carefully balanced plans for the future.

The last thing you'd want is for a simple, seemingly innocuous habit to start interfering with this delicate balance. We all have good habits and bad habits, but as the leader and entrepreneur of your company, your actions set a tone for the organization and bear more weight when put into practice.

These five habits, in particular, can have a negative and disruptive effect on your team's productivity:

1. Managing the details.

The term "micromanagement" has a negative connotation for a good reason. Getting lost in the details is a sure way to waste your time, waste your employees' time, and wrack up enough annoyances to alienate your team completely. You don't have to be completely hands-off to be a good manager, but you do have to focus on high-level thinking and planning. Set a general course or a general goal that you want your employees to achieve, and let them worry about how they want to get it done. If you don't trust them to do that alone, you probably have the wrong person for the job.

Related: 6 Alternatives to Micromanaging Employees

2. Neglecting the individual.

While it's a good idea to establish a general work culture that appeals to the type of people you want to work with, not everybody works the same way. Your account manager might benefit from multiple team meetings to exchange information and build camaraderie, but your web developer might see that as an aggravating waste of time. Your CFO might be a morning person while your designer works better in the afternoons. It's your responsibility to know each person's strengths and weaknesses, and cater to those as much as you can.

3. Not making your expectations clear.

Some entrepreneurs have a bad habit of assuming that their employees can read their minds. They'll ask for some deliverable, like research for a prospective client, but when the employee gets it done it doesn't look like they imagined it in their heads. Much of the blame in these scenarios can be directed toward a manager who didn't make his/her expectations clear from the start.

If you have expectations, or a clear idea in your head, you need to make that clear, otherwise, don't be surprised when your employee submits something different and needs to start the whole project over again.

Related: Ensure Your New Employee's Success With These 5 Steps

4. Indecisiveness.

As an entrepreneur, you're under a lot of pressure to make the right decisions that drive your business forward. But there's something worse than making the wrong decision, and that's not making any decision at all.

If you have a list of to-do items that you're postponing simply because you aren't yet sure what to do with them, you might have a problem with indecisiveness. This inability to commit to decisions leads to a productivity halt for your entire business. Your employees won't know which work to start and which to ignore, and they won't have faith in the direction of your business overall. Commit to decisions, even if you're not 100 percent sure of the outcomes. A bad decision is still better than no decision.

5. Refusing to delegate.

Some entrepreneurs view this as a merit-worthy habit. They take on as much work as possible by themselves, delegating little to the employees below them. While on the surface this might seem a noble effort to avoid overworking your underlings, the reality is it can detract from your productivity as a group. Your employees are there to handle these responsibilities, freeing you up to conquer bigger and better things. Learn how to delegate effectively, and your productivity as an organization will skyrocket.

It pays to be aware of your own habits, despite their tendency to slip by unnoticed. Pay close attention to how your actions affect the members of your team, especially in a tight-knit startup setting. Work to make positive changes to your approach over time. If you're ever in doubt how your actions are affecting others, simply ask them face-to-face; if you've built an environment of mutual trust, your employees won't be afraid to tell you when one of your habits or routines is getting in the way of their productivity.

Related: 8 Tasks You Should Delegate Today

Larry Alton

Freelance Writer & Former Entrepreneur

Larry Alton is an independent business consultant specializing in social media trends, business, and entrepreneurship. Follow him on Twitter and LinkedIn.

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