There is an age-old delineation between management and workers, but this concept of hierarchy may be outdated. Often, employees feel too intimidated to approach their bosses if they have a question or concern. The reason is because “boss” implies a certain pecking order. Instead, many managers are embracing a role as leader rather than boss and encouraging their team through delegation and trust. This is where an open-door policy can become your advantage. This policy means your employees are welcome to talk with you any time about anything. They no longer have to worry about asking questions or discussing concerns. So how do you create an open-door policy? Here’s some ideas to get you started.
- Establish parameters. While an open-door policy means employees can approach management at any time for any reason, that doesn’t mean it should be a free-for-all. The most important part to establishing these parameters is to make sure you can adhere to them without becoming the corporate counselor or a micromanager. You want to be available, undistracted and fair.
- Focus on communication. You can establish it as a literal open door. If your office door is open, anyone can come in at any time. If it is closed, you may be engaged in another task or meeting, and they can make an appointment or wait until it’s open. Establish a protocol if there is an emergency. Also, ask your team to come prepared to answer questions and to help with a solution.
- Learn to listen. Far too often we listen only long enough to respond. Try to break that habit. Listen intently, and when the employee is done, recap what you understand and ask if it is correct. Then you can both start working on a solution. In fact, directing the employee to think of the solution will drive their ability to solve their own problems and you’re just the catalyst.
- Be respectful of time. Of course, if the open door becomes too much of a distraction, it could affect productivity. Try to solve a problem the first time it’s brought up, and don’t wait for things to escalate. Involve human resources if you believe there might be more at stake than a simple concern. And always keep your team engaged with the process to encourage them to find solutions before having to bring the problem to management.
Do you want to establish an open-door policy in your office?
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