5 Open Door Slammers

It’s a popular mindset for leaders to declare they have an “open door policy,” but what does that really mean? Most often it illustrates that your team has permission to walk in your office and talk to you. Sounds great, doesn’t it?

But wait. Does saying “my door is always open” really mean you are available and approachable? Not exactly. There are five open door slammers we need to be aware of, and they speak much louder than your physical open door.

Not investing in relationships.

If you don’t have a relationship established with your team, they won’t feel comfortable walking into your office without an appointment. Therefore, you don’t really have an open door environment. You have an appointment-only policy. To help with this challenge, stroll around the office in a casual and approachable way. Walk into your employees’ offices and start conversations. Give them an invitation to your office by asking them to stop by when they have a project update or if they have a question.

Having a closed mind.

This is a big door slammer. While your office door may physically be open, is your mind? An open door with a closed minded leader can derail an open door culture.

Putting your people second.

Many times I am in the middle of my work when someone walks in my office. If I continue my work instead of stopping to give the person my attention, I’m an open door hypocrite. If you have an open door policy, make sure you acknowledge those who walk through it; stop what you’re doing, make eye contact, turn your body squarely towards them and listen. Your work can wait because it is secondary to those you lead.

Appearing too busy for your team.

If you are a noticeably busy leader, you may be sending a non-verbal message that you’re too busy for your people. Chances are your team won’t want to inconvenience you if they feel like you are always on the phone, rushing out of town, rushing from meeting to meeting, or even being late to a set meeting.

Having an unwelcoming office setup.

I’ve always positioned my desk on the same side that the door is on. That way when people walk by my door I can make visible eye contact. I can say hello or wave for them to come in. I also love offices that have glass for walls. Some people refer to these offices as “fish bowls,” but this type of office lets me to see out, which I like. This openness allows me to close my door when I need privacy without sending a sign that I’m always behind closed doors.

Having an open door environment is not as easy as it sounds. As a leader, it’s important to make sure you’re keeping all your doors open.


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