Why Open Door Policies Don’t Work
One thing is certain: If you’re reading this, you are a leader.
It doesn’t matter if you are the CEO of a Fortune 500 company or the mother of two, the guy who started Apple or the guy who starts the wave at the next ball game; people are looking to you for guidance.
Oftentimes, the difference between dynamic leaders and poor ones is simply how well they know and care for their people. Of course, as you look for opportunities to lead from the front, a word of caution is in order…
Do not be the boss who takes all the bolts off his door and announces an “open door policy” for all employees. If you do that, you are asking for every cook and bottle washer to steal every minute out of every day with their minute problems.
If you’re considering an open door policy, I’m sure you’re expecting people to ask you quick and/or critical things like:
“Sorry to bother you, but we’re having a major problem with…”
“Are you okay with this edgy subject line before we send it out?”
“Can I get your feedback on prioritizing a couple projects?”
In reality you will constantly hear:
“Hey, I just wanted to run this by you”
“Can I get your quick thoughts on…”
“Dude, check this out…”
“Got a sec?”
“Hey, by the way…”
Things like, “Do you have a second?” are really code for, “Can I suck away all of your time like a vampire sucks blood?”
You know as well as I do that the questions will quickly go from important to unnecessary within the first week.
Don’t let that happen to you. The most important thing your subordinates need is for you to be productive.
Instead, set guidelines for your time. Set a daily check-in or a weekly staff meeting.
When you set solid guidelines regarding your time, your subordinates will be clearer and happier. They will ask more concise questions and feel empowered to make smaller decisions on their own. Plus, they may even get downright giddy when you take a few minutes to get dirty and ask specific and meaningful questions.
Keeping your door closed (metaphorically and literally) can enable your team to get more done, while giving you the space to grow your business.
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