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Implement Office Hours Rather Than an Open-door Policy

Even sincere leaders can struggle with managing an open-door policy

During a conversation I had recently with Jason Dykstra of the Thriving Leaders podcast about the value of conflict, he asked me about the practicality of using an open-door policy as a tool for encouraging employee participation. I told him I encourage executives not to use the term; “open-door policy” is something lots of leaders say but most employees don’t trust.

How an Open Door Can Close Off Participation
Even sincere leaders can struggle with managing an open-door policy. It can lead to being interrupted frequently or getting sucked into putting out lots of little fires and having trouble focusing on their own work. Plus, the same employees typically take advantage of the open door over and over, rather than a diverse range of employees contributing a variety of opinions and views.

All too often, just because an office door is open doesn’t guarantee that a leader will pay attention once an employee gets inside. Leaders who say, “Yes, tell me all about it,” but then shuffle papers or glance over at their phone after every ping, actually deter open, honest conversation. Plus, open doors may let employees throw something in and run away, rather than requiring the leader to meet with them and actually work together on whatever messy thing needs attention.

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