The seven deadly business sins

First100, a firm specialising in leadership performance acceleration, has compiled the following 'seven deadly business sins' for entrepreneurs everywhere. Whether you're just starting a new venture or fancy a refresher course in the do's and don'ts of being a good boss, read on.

1. Don't sleep with a colleague (unless you are married or in a relationship with them!)

It's the old 'don't mix business with pleasure' line. But seriously, starting a relationship with a member of staff can have serious repercussions, especially if the rest of the team finds out. There will be accusations of favouritism, unprofessionalism and possibly an employment tribunal in the offing if relations go sour. Keep it in your pants, people.

2. Don't keep referring to "how we did things in my old company"

You may be a serial entrepreneur with ten successful businesses under your belt, but don't fall into the 'good old days' trap. Each new venture will have its own DNA, it's own mix of people and its own politics. Don't become the dinosaur in your organisation, expecting everything to follow a previous model.

3. Avoid too many introductory meetings which you can't follow up

Meet-and-greets are a fab way to get to know your staff but not if that's the only contact you ever have with them. If you are going to schedule individual meetings, make sure you get some quarterly catch-ups in the diary too, or risk looking like you're just going through the motions.

4. Don't make decisions just for the sake of being decisive

Everyone loves a strong leader, but just ploughing in for the sake of it is more likely to get people's backs up than anything. When your staff come to you with a query or challenge, it's your time to shine. But poking your nose into people's jobs just to be 'seen' to be being useful undermines your position, rather than strengthening it.

5. Don't avoid sacking someone in the hope they'll work out - they rarely do

Yes, we know that employment law is a minefield. This is why you should be extraordinarily diligent when hiring someone in the first place. But, in the event you have made the wrong hire, don't put your head in the sand. Bad apples really do rot the whole barrel: they are bad for morale, mad for team productivity and bad for your brand image. Get shot of them, the right way.

6. Don't avoid playing the political game - everyone else is at it

Office politics is a necessary evil. When you have a group of people cooped up in one spot for a minimum of eight hours a day, there's bound to be friction. Keep your finger on the pulse and you'll be able to anticipate problems before they flare up. Rising above petty squabbles is all well and good but, as a leader, you need to get to grips with the issues facing your team. Who knows, you may be able to make changes that result in a happy, gossip-free workplace (but don't count on it).

7. Avoid telling staff you're going to spend your first three months asking questions

Check your corporate training at the door, folks. There's a real trend in big companies for head honchos to operate a 'questions only' policy, designed to make sure that staff know what they're doing and are confident of their skills. In a small business, it's a given that your staff are competent: there's no room for hangers-on or blaggers in a tiny organisation. They have nowhere to hide. So, heed 'deadly business sin' number five, and leave the jargon to the giants.

Who came up with these deadly sins of business?

Garrett O'Keeffe, leadership consultant at First100, compiled these tips following years of experience training new bosses. He says: "We have worked with hundreds of companies during the past six years and these are some of the biggest blunders new bosses will make.


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