Chapter 86. Transparency Takes More Than an Open Door

Seth Dobbs

“I have an open-door policy,” is a claim I often hear from managers and leaders. It’s a statement that is meant to sound positive and make the speaker seem approachable, but I’m not sure that this is always the case. Don’t get me wrong, the intent behind this notion is positive and worth understanding, but my sense is that if you’re bragging about the “policy” and not the results, something might be amiss.

To begin, for many of us in leadership positions, stating, “I have an open door, come in any time!” is easier said than done. Our jobs as leaders and managers often require us to be heads down in a problem, spend time in deep strategic thinking, and to fill our calendars with planned interactions. Given that, how easy is it for your team to actually find time with you? Can people really walk in throughout the day and chat?

Also, how comfortable are your people in taking up your time? Role power will naturally make people hesitant to speak to you no matter how much you tout your open door. Even people who are naturally approachable can suffer from this because people on your teams might feel that no matter what you say, you are too busy to actually listen to them. And when you have role power it’s really easy to inadvertently imply that you’re too busy.

How do you react when people walk in the door and tell you ...

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