One of the joys of writing for this blog is I have the liberty to craft a snarky post from time to time. My clients are telling me so many stories about business practices that make no sense, or are clearly insane. 

I reached out to colleagues on LinkedIn to see what they had experienced, and responses were even more ridiculous than I had thought they would be. 

Whether in corporate or small business, here are some policy and leadership no-nos grouped according to category. 

Please do not model any of these “worst practices.” 


Good communication practices make a company productive and successful. Bad communication practices slow things to a crawl and stifle innovation. What not to do: 

“Micromanage all employee communications, ensuring inboxes will be filled with irrelevant ‘reply all’ responses.”

“Make your staff send multiple follow-up emails to get you (the boss) to take action.”

“Schedule regularly occurring conference calls at night.”

“Unplanned video call. At any time. Not okay.” 

Job Flexibility 

The pandemic changed the way we expect to be able to work. Forcing people to go back to 2019’s rules will likely cause friction and attrition. What not to do:

“Initiate a mandatory return to office (RTO) for all employees, regardless of their job function or personal situation.”

“Insist that cameras be on for information-dump training that will not be interactive.”

“Mandate that cameras be on all day to ensure employees are working.”

This last one can lead introverts to have a complete meltdown.

Paid Time Off (PTO)

One of the biggest benefits of working for someone else instead of yourself is PTO. While you would think this would be a relatively simple thing to implement, companies can play all sorts of games to ensure you don’t take time away from work. Don’t do this:

“Change the vacation policy to a bucket of PTO to cover any sick, personal days, or vacation an employee might take. Only add three days to cover the sick and personal days so employees feel like they are taking their vacation days when they are out sick, and instead come to work ill.”

“Interrupt employees on vacation so they never truly get to disconnect and recharge.”

“Offer ‘unlimited PTO’ as a perk, and then create an atmosphere of fear so employees are afraid to take time off.”

“Have a time period every year where employees aren’t allowed to take time off for any reason, including sick time, even after an employee came to work with something highly contagious and got everyone else sick.”

That last one seems like a no-brainer…


Good leadership can make or break a company because it creates a place where people want to work, or people want to leave. Don’t do this: 

“Schedule endless meetings with no direction or accountability.”

“Make your staff chase you to get an answer/approval/discussion.”

“Make your staff feel that every moment with you is taking up your time/making them feel unworthy of your time.”

“Make your staff feel that their x number of years (let’s use the example of 15 for fun) working in an industry while staying up to date on trends/best practices does not justify their professional recommendations.”

“Use the Elon Musk playbook… Basically, everything he’s doing at Twitter is a masterclass on mismanagement…” 

What did Musk do that will likely be used as a case study in business schools for years? Musk required employees commit in writing to working unreasonably long hours or resign with three months’ severance. This was the result, according to “Twitter loses payroll department, other financial employees as part of mass resignation under Elon Musk,” an article by Business Insider:

“A large portion of Twitter‘s financial organization, including its payroll department, left the company on Thursday in response to an ultimatum from Elon Musk that has seemingly backfired.”

Apparently the upcoming payroll had been approved, but the following one…

This was on top of the mass layoffs that were completed when Musk took over. While my heart hurts for the professionals who have been impacted, I will say it has been fascinating to follow this train wreck. 

Career Path

Many employees want to know there is a career path available to them within a company. They want to commit and stay and grow. If there are no opportunities for growth where they are, they will look elsewhere. This one made me cringe:

“Require employees to get permission from their current manager to interview for another job within the company, ensuring that jobs mainly go to external candidates. Employees experience limited career growth and/or feel like they have no impact on their career direction, and it just creates a whole bunch of unnecessary tension. Plus people leave because they can’t grow within the organization.”

Corporate Culture  

My experience is that people want to do good work. You hired these people because you thought they could do the job. Please stop antagonizing them so they can actually do their jobs and help your business grow. Do not:

“Encourage and reward leadership for working crazy and long hours, thus creating a culture where all employees receive and are expected to respond to emails between 11 p.m. and 1 a.m.”

I have personally experienced this! I was taken off a project at KPMG because I didn’t respond to the partner’s email at 2 a.m. It may not surprise you to learn I was sleeping at that time. I responded at 8 a.m., but that wasn’t satisfactory.  

And here is a bonus of something that seems to be working very well that you might want to try implementing to keep great employees.

Photo by Jornada Produtora on Unsplash