Is Your Open Door Policy Broken?

Have you wondered lately why no one has popped into your office? After all, you told everyone you had an open door policy. Don’t they get what that means?

Well, yes, they probably do. But they’re more than likely spending time whispering and snickering behind your back if your open door policy amounts to you telling them it exists.

More than once over the years, I’ve worked with a leader that thinks all he has to do to have team members willing to walk into his office and chat is to tell them his door is open. And that is so wrong.

Here’s the bottom line.

If you have to tell your team you have an open door policy, you probably don’t. You see, it’s all about what you do, not what you say that makes your policy a reality.

So here are two things you need to do right now to turn that around:

1. Get out of your office.

Hey, you’re the “big” boss. People aren’t just going to come strolling in unless you have built a foundation of trust. Remember the phrase “management by walking around” that was coined many years ago? That’s what you need to do. Meet your team in their space. Be interested and concerned for their well being. Act sincere.

2. Make your office a welcome place.

Okay, sometimes you have to be in your office. Since that’s the case, you want to make it a place where your team members feel welcome. The first thing you need to do is position your desk so that you face the door. No one will walk in if all they can see is your back. And make a space in your office where you can get out from behind your desk and talk to people. A small area with a table or sofa is perfect for this.

What about you? What screams “open door policy” to you? Please share in the comments.

Denise O'Berry

Denise O’Berry — aka the Team Doc — has been working with teams and team leadership in the public, non profit and private sectors for over twenty years. She gets a lot of joy from working with teams and their leadership to help them improve and work through team issues. Not only does her advice come from the heart, it comes from years of experience working as a team member, team leader, manager and owner of her own company. She has truly walked in your shoes and offers help so you can be a better team leader. You can find more advice from Denise at her website askteamdoc and don't forget to follow her on Twitter @askteamdoc.

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