My Door is Always Open

My Door is Always Open

We’ve all heard the statement “My door is always open.” I’ve had executives tell me this too many times to count. I believe they genuinely want to convey this message, but unfortunately it isn’t always well received or believed, for that matter. There are several reasons for that.

In an article in the Harvard Business Review by Megan Reitz and John Higgins, the authors challenge the statement, “My door is always open” because it contains a number of assumptions. If you are in a leadership role, think about how these possible assumptions can be interpreted by the person outside that door.

The first is you are asking people to meet you on your territory. Sometimes we forget as leaders that others perceive the power that we hold to be a bit daunting. We may not see it, but for others, it is there. Why not meet somewhere else? Or at a minimum, find your way to the table in your office or a conference room outside of your office instead of staying behind your desk.

Second, Reitz and Higgins remind us that we as leaders have the luxury of a door. We can close it when we are having a bad day or just want quiet time. You can’t very well do that in a cubicle.

And third, you can choose when to close or open it. You don’t have a choice sitting at a call center desk or navigating through a maze of cubicles. But the best thing you can do is … wait for it… get up and walk around. (And if you are a virtual organization, a phone call or Skype is the next best thing to being there.) Go hang out with those awesome employees that are making it happen every day. Challenge yourself to really get to know your employees. What makes them excited to come to work? What are their challenges? What do they love to do outside of work?

And here’s the big one… let them really get to know you!

And then, when the leader says, “My door is always open,” not only will we believe them … we will actually come in!

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