Are you a CEO with an “open door policy”?  Watch out, without proper use and management, this practice can become destructive; a major trustbuster in your organization.

Come On In Doorway Invitation Greeting Guest

AN OPEN DOOR DOES NOT MEAN COME IN AND TATTLE

Some CEOs want employees to come through their open door to “keep information flowing”.  But knowing what an employee thinks about their boss, a policy they don’t like, or anything else along those lines only communicates dysfunction at best. When a CEO intervenes and undermines the authority of the person whose job it is to handle the above stated concerns, then it’s safe to say the organization has huge trust issues amongst its leadership.

 

SHUT THE DOOR WHEN YOU SEE THIS COMING

If being liked and avoiding conflict at all costs is your CEO style, your open door policy may be your undoing.  Like this example: A much admired, conflict-avoiding CEO loved that his Board of Directors heard nothing but fabulous things about him. Employees raved about his accessibility and what a nice guy he was.

Unfortunately, troubling signs in the organization’s financials and slow decision-making were hidden behind long, open door conversations. As it turns out, those one-on-ones served only to reassure unhappy employees who brought this CEO anecdotal stories, instead of facts and results. His top priority was to “make sure everyone was happy” to the point that he ceased to do his job.  He spent an inordinate amount of time making sure he was liked and well thought of. He was liked all right…right out of the organization.

 

COME IN SO I CAN CONTROL

The most insidious version of an open door policy occurs when a micro-managing control freak is in charge. This type of CEO actually uses the “open door” to know exactly what is going on everywhere. This is a CEO who not only wants people to come through his or her open door but walks through every other open door performing “random spot checks” to make sure everyone is behaving. This CEO knows exactly who to zero-in on for his micro-managing data; those who “participate” are often rewarded in “off the page” ways. To some it looks like favoritism, others call it “an inner circle comprised of a protected group” that cooperates with a wink and a nod. This is an open door that needs to be closed!

 

AN OPEN DOOR DONE RIGHT

Open door policies done right and demonstrated by an astute CEO value the true intention of the “open door” and can produce profound positive results.

What is “open door” done right?

There are many resources available to start that discussion with your senior management. If you are going to have an open door policy, just be sure it is a policy in writing, otherwise it is just a suggestion. Here is one of many great resources available here to get you started.

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