Open door policy……really?….you work in a cubicle

Many managers will talk about their open door policy.

“My door is always open.  Anytime you want to come in and talk about your frustrations or your successes just come on in.”


So, how many of your reports really interrupt your day and stop in?  How many of them even go so far as to make an appointment outside of the performance review or project update to talk about their frustrations and successes.  Even in those updates, do they use words like frustration and success?

Open door policy is meant to mean you talk to me about anything, anytime.  I would say the anytime is not as important as the anything.   Open door doesn’t as much mean I’m available as much as it means the is door is open and you can see inside….

The ‘see inside’ aspect of open door is that the manager’s door is open for the reports to see what the manager is working on.  How the manager spends her time is a true measure of what is important to them.  Knowing what is important to the manager tells the report what they should be focused on too.  If the manager has meetings all day with sales, this is what is important.  If they are meeting with investors all of the time, this is what is important.  

An open door means that reports know what failures and successes the manager has.  It is up to the manager to open the door to their internal self.  The manager can share past failures, current frustrations, celebrate and share successes that they, the team or other have had. This sharing of self also gives reports direction as to what problems they can help the manager solve, but critically this openness builds trust and gives permission to direct report permission and confidence to share their own frustrations and successes.  

In today’s world, the open door policy no longer just means “I want you know I’m not above the rest of the team”, an open door policy in the modern cubical world means “I want you know what is important to me and I want you to know my successes and my failures.”

Jonathan Shaver