An open door policy (as related to the business and corporate world) is a communication policy in which a manager, CEO, president or supervisor leaves their office door “open” in order to encourage openness and transparency with the employees of that company.
Don’t rely on an “open door.” Many managers say they have an open-door policy that empowers employees to report workplace issues to them. But open-door policies don’t really work, says Phillip Wilson, author of The Next 52 Weeks: One Year to Transform Your Workplace. “If you want to know about the problems in your office, you have to go find them. By the time they come through your open door, it’s usually way too late”.
Manage By Walking Around
To get connected and stay connected, you need to walk around and talk to your team, work alongside them, ask questions, and be there to help when needed.
When you MBWA, you can increase the following:
• Approachability – When your staff sees you as a person and not just a boss, they’ll be more likely to tell you what’s going on. You’ll get the chance to learn about issues before they become problems.
• Trust – As your team gets to know you better, they’ll trust you more. You’ll be naturally inclined to share more information, and that will break down barriers to communication.
• Business knowledge – Getting out and learning what’s happening on a daily basis can give you a better understanding of the functions and processes around you.
• Accountability – When you interact daily with your team, agreements you make with each other are much more likely to be completed. Everyone is more motivated to follow through, because you’re seeing each other on a regular basis.
• Morale – People often feel better about their jobs and their organization when they have opportunities to be heard. MBWA makes those opportunities available.
• Productivity – Many creative ideas come from casual exchanges. MBWA promotes casual discussions, so people will more likely feel free to come to you with their ideas.
MBWA isn’t a “walk in the park”
It’s a determined and genuine effort to understand your staff, what they do, and what you can do to make their work more effective.
Don’t just do MBWA because you feel it’s an obligation – this probably won’t work very well. You have to truly want to get to know your staff and operations, and you have to commit to following up concerns and seeking continuous improvement.
Beware of using open door policy wisely. Even if your door is opened, make sure you step out of your office as often as possible to speak to your staff. It’s a lot more effective!
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