Why your Open Door Policy sucks and what you should do insteadNatalie Lewis
“Do you have a minute?”
I was talking to someone last week who had recently introduced an ‘Open Door Policy’, I raised an eyebrow and asked how that was working out for him. He said it was a nightmare. I had to chuckle.
Open Door Policies are a total waste of everyone’s time, quite literally.
I asked the chap what was happening since the policy had been introduced. He said that he was getting interrupted all the time by staff bringing problems to him. Whether it was problems with customers or fellow work colleagues or about people in other departments, he was getting people coming to him with problems at all times of the day and he was getting none of his own work done.
He said he now dreads the question “do you have a minute”? He now has the difficult decision to either finish what he was focusing on or shut down the important thing on the mind of his team member. He felt that either way he couldn’t win.
The other thing he said was eye-opening was that his staff now came to him without a solution. Previously, without the Open Door Policy, his team would book in some time with him and they’d bring him a problem and some ideas for how to solve it. With the Open Door Policy they simply ran to him without thinking through all elements of their problem or question first.
These are just two common reasons an open door policy sucks!
I asked him why he’d introduced the policy and he said that a business coach had told him he needed to be more visible and accessible to his team.
Whilst introducing an Open Door Policy may sound like a good idea for encouraging timely discussions, often they don’t encourage the behaviours you want to see from your team. In particular, if this is your primary means of communicating, an Open Door Policy is a recipe for disaster!
So here’s what you do instead:
- Agree on set and regular one to ones that work for you and your team members
- Have these one to ones booked into the diary so your employees know the next time they can sit down with you
- Adjust frequency depending on how established a person is within the business, based on their personality (some people will want less frequent meetings)
- Have team huddles where issues and work flow are discussed and work is shared where necessary
- Let your team know they can schedule in extra time if something unexpected comes up
- Encourage your employees to consider solutions to their problems before they come to you. They don’t have to be correct, they just have to have gone through that thought process
If this article resonates with you or you need some advice on managing your team more effectively get in touch.