Does Your Open Door Policy Really Work?

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Many chief executive officers and presidents tout the fact that they have an open door policy in their company or organization. They welcome their staff to walk in their office and make suggestions or air their complaints. This concept sounds good. It implies they are open to new ideas and willing to make changes for the better. Yet, typically, their employees do not use it to communicate with them?

Why? There are several reasons why they do not communicate directly to their bosses or managers.The first factor is fear. They are afraid that going directly to head of the company will infuriate their direct reports. They feel that this kind of behavior will seriously jeopardize their relationship with their manager or supervisor and only make matters worse.

The next reason is their concern for looking like a “whiner” to the rest of their colleagues. It is better to just “suck it up” and get on with their job than to risk being a labeled a wimp.

The third reason is apathy. They may have observed other people in the organization who have attempted to create some favorable change by talking to the person in charge at the top. They saw things stay just the same. As always there were no changes, despite the empty promises. They come to the conclusion that it is better “to just go along with the flow of things”, than to try to be an unappreciated hero.

In order for this concept of an open door policy to work, it must have the complete buy in at all levels of the organization. It must be understood that a company organization cannot grow if the best ideas are not listened to.

Next, it must have visible and tangible results that happen because of the discussion with the boss.

Finally, employees who use the open door policy should be rewarded. For example, their managers could be commended for encouraging their employees to contribute suggestions and have discussions with those at the top.

In summary, to have your open door policy work, you must make it a priority and positively reinforce the use of it.

Tom Borg is president of Tom Borg Consulting, LLC. He is a business consultant, speaker, trainer, coach and author. He works with small and mid-size businesses and organizations and helps them develop their most valuable asset – their people!


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