Having an ‘Open Door Policy’ is a Bad Policy

Having an open door policy is something I feel like we hear a lot about in the business world. It has almost become a catchphrase. It may even seem like all the cool and kind bosses have adopted this policy. However, I am of the opinion that having an open door policy will not do you or your employees any favors. Ultimately, it is not cool or kind, and here is why. 

If you have a policy that any of your employees can come to you with any problem at any time, it will quickly spiral into disaster. When you have an open door policy, it opens the door for you to become your employees’ babysitter. You will feel the need to stop whatever important task you are working on to listen to them because you have an open door policy. You will feel annoyed and taken advantage of because you feel like you can’t set boundaries. Frankly, your productivity will decrease dramatically and your frustration and stress levels will exponentially rise. 

On the flip side, your employees will feel like they can and should come to you with anything and everything. Because they are so used to coming to you for help, they may not even realize their own problem solving abilities. They will likely start coming to you with problems that could have been solved on their own. Additionally, they may feel that they do not have your full attention likely because you just were pulled away from an important task.

So what is the solution? You’ve hired people that you now have a responsibility to communicate with, right? Isn’t anything less than an open door policy cruel? Let me make something clear; not having an open door policy does not mean that you do not care or that you are unwilling to communicate. Instead, choose to implement policies that promote healthy and effective communication between you and your employees.  

This type of healthy communication is found in many forms. I personally hold regular collaborative staff meetings where we openly discuss issues and things that are going well as a team. I also use Whatsapp to communicate with my team about little things because the voice message feature is very convenient while I am driving to and from appointments. When my staff has a problem, I encourage them to come to me with the problem and a potential solution which I think helps them realize they don’t need to come to me with everything. We also have regular employee reviews where I try to listen to any concerns they may have. And of course, my employees are always able to schedule a time to meet with me if they would like. 

Setting boundaries on my communication with my employees rather than simply encouraging them to come to me with every little problem, has helped my employer/employee relationships. I no longer feel annoyed about being constantly interrupted. I feel like when I do have serious talks with my employees, they have my full undivided attention because it was a scheduled talk.And in general, more problems are solved without me ever having to step in because, in general, it has become easier for them to solve the problem than come to me for the solution. Take the time to examine your business and how you and your staff communicate with one another. Is it as effective and kind as it could be?

For more information on this subject, please download and listen to The Appraiser Coach Podcast Episode: 

6 Comments on “Having an ‘Open Door Policy’ is a Bad Policy”

  1. Pingback: Having an ‘Open Door Policy’ is a Bad Policy - Appraisal Buzz

  2. Pingback: Having an ‘Open Door Policy’ is a Bad Policy - Appraisal Buzz

  3. Agreed….while developing a set of policies and procedures and relying on good employees to weed through it all, is hard work, it is more productive and effective! Setting broad policy and making efforts to alter what doesn’t work on a regular basis is better than micromanaging every employee whim.

  4. I agree Dustin with all except your comment of “try to listen during reviews”. My hope is this was a typo, if not rethink the word TRY, as reviews are a critical part of your business as you set expectations and goals for your individuals in your company. Thanks and good luck with your weather changes up north while we burn down south.

  5. There is no need for regular staff meetings. Too many meetings destroy morale and motivation.

  6. Good thing to think about as my company grows. I feel like I have an unwritten open door policy with my eleven employees, but they rarely interrupt me or bug me. It’s probably the other way around, they need a closed door policy from me. My staff works best if I just get out of their way.

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