When your open-door policy is bad leadership - Deepstash
When your open-door policy is bad leadership

When your open-door policy is bad leadership

Curated from: fastcompany.com

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Being Helpful And Always Available At Work

Being Helpful And Always Available At Work

Many leaders have had their own efforts and engagement thwarted by micromanagers that they may be wary of repeating the pattern with their direct reports.

They use “My door is always open” as code for “I don’t want to micromanage you, but I also don’t want to leave you flailing.”

They want to be helpful and supportive, and making themselves available to them is a simple way to do that.


49 reads

The Open-Door Policy And It's Limitations

The Open-Door Policy And It's Limitations

An open-door policy is helpful only if you can actually deliver on its intent. Far too often, we offer an invitation for our colleagues to ask questions or share opinions when it may not be the time or the place.

By putting the responsibility on others to approach us rather than us thinking strategically about what they need, we may be under-leading—which can be every bit as harmful as micromanaging.


37 reads

How To Handle: A Colleague Lacks Knowledge, Skills, or Experience for A Task

How To Handle: A Colleague Lacks Knowledge, Skills, or Experience for A Task

Example: If your sales manager doesn’t know how to use their updated CRM software, they need hands-on, directive instruction to learn how. “Come to me with any questions” isn’t helpful when someone has nothing but questions.

How to help instead: Provide them with training, and the time to process the new information. Give them examples of what success looks like, and develop a plan for them to learn and practice their new skills. Anticipate the questions they may have, and check in frequently to give feedback on their progress.


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Compliance Is More Important than Commitment

Example: If your expectation is that your team members comply with the company’s mandate to get vaccinated before they return to the office, telling your employees that your door is always open to questions or concerns about this may be misleading. It may send a signal that this policy is open to discussion or negotiation, which it may not be.

How to help instead: Communicate the why behind the decision—and also expect that not everyone will be happy. Let people know what is open to discussion and negotiation.


28 reads

When a Decision Needs to Be Made Immediately or There’s a Crisis

When a Decision Needs to Be Made Immediately or There’s a Crisis

Example: There’s been a building security breach. Everyone needs to exit the office immediately and gather in the parking lot next door for the next set of instructions. Offering an open-door policy for questions may slow an urgent mandate down when you want people to act now and ask questions later.

How to help instead: Make sure your verbal (message), vocal (tone of voice), and visual (body language) cues all match to reflect the gravity or immediacy of the situation. If they don’t match, people are more likely to ignore the content of what you’re saying in favor of visual cues.


24 reads

Bottom Line

We all want to have helpful leaders—and be helpful leaders. Knowing what kind of help to give isn’t as simple as leaving our doors open. It takes a wide range of helpful practices to avoid micromanaging or under-leading.


25 reads



"The pessimist complains about the wind. The optimist expects it to change. The leader adjusts the sails.”- John Maxwell

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