The Door Is Open, No One's Coming In

Managing Talent

It takes more than leaving your door open to communicate with employees

Published on: November 11, 2013

In grade school the principal always said you could come in to talk; as they say, her "door is always open." In all my years I never stepped into her office to simply converse. After all, that is where the kids go when they don't behave and she was slightly intimidating. If she needed to talk to me, I figured she would track me down.

What's interesting is that concept doesn't vary much from the work place.

Most managers brag they have an "open door policy." I would like to know how many employees truly take them up on that. That type of statement also leaves an employee to wonder, what exactly do you want me to say if I come calling? It's no surprise few enter.

The problem with this model is it puts all the work on the employee when it's really the manager's responsibility to make the effort.

 On farms managers typically work side by side with employees often thinking if they have something on their mind they will say it.  Simply working in close proximity doesn't correlate to a clear channel of communication.  Managers need to ask direct questions of their employees to ensure they are really on the same page. Sample questions include: How do you like your current role? What do you want to do with your career? Where do you think some of the hang-ups came from during harvest? What can I do to help you develop? What do you need from me to help you better succeed in your position?

Remember, an "open door" really stands for being "open minded."  Make sure that your door isn't slamming employees as they walk out. Be open to listening to their thoughts, challenges and feedback. This is an opportunity to partner with your employee on solving a problem or praising them for their efforts. It's an opportunity to build your relationship and essentially motivate that employee.

I was reminded once again this week in doing a lot of executive interviewing, the best execs really understand the impact of building those relationships with employees. They are constantly asking for insight, feedback, ideas from the staff. They are known for getting the entire team involved and they encourage healthy debate, not avoid it.

Next time when you have the opportunity, take the time to open your door and go seek the questions you want answered.