“My door is always open.” How many times have you heard this? Mostly, you hear it in the interview process, during your onboarding or in the first few meetings with a superior…or maybe you even heard it during a thinly veiled attempt by your supervisor to appear available to you. But the sad thing is, I venture to say these doors aren’t always as open as advertised.
Like most of you, I suspect, I have witnessed completely “open” doors, completely “closed” doors and everything in between. I’ve reported to middle managers who were too busy and important to share five minutes of discussion with me; but I’ve also been blessed to work in organizations where my boss’s boss would chat with me any time I had the smallest question or idea to vet. And, wow! What a difference!
The truth is that having an open door “policy” isn’t just about being available for a chat. It says so much more than that to your direct reports and your peers. It says, “Your opinions and ideas matter.” It says, “You are a valued part of this organization and my team.” It says, “I care about your future with this company.” And it even says, “I care about you as a person.”
As a manager, one of the most important things you can provide your employees is your time and attention. If your door is always closed, how will they ever know that their performance is completely awesome or totally off the mark? If your door is always closed, how will you train your successors to hold down the fort when you get your big, fat promotion? And if your door is always closed, won’t you be surprised when your employee (what’s her name again?) wants to discuss a possible raise or give her two weeks’ notice?
So, next time you are buried in your office with way too much to do, just remember the effects of your inaccessibility. It’s true that you might get more done if you shut that door and buckle down, but you might be creating a mess in the process that you’ll have to address later. Just keep that door open and engage with your team. It’s a simple action that, with minimal effort, can make a huge difference in your work relationships and in your team’s success.
Please sign up to receive email updates on my home page, and I promise to share with you strategic communications tips, tricks and the occasional semi-relevant, nonsensical blabbering.