How Open Is That Open Door?

Many leaders would proudly boast of their advanced degree received from the Institute of Tired Leadership Open Door-ism. At the suggestion that said leaders do not engage their employees or that they dismiss their team member’s input or feedback, said leaders would pound their fists in outrage and point to the certificate from the ITLOD. Unfortunately for leaders, the open door policy does involves more than leaving your door partially open during business hours and consequently there is more than one way to dismiss another person’s input or feedback, even if you graduated with honors.

Dismissal upon the transmission of input.

The door was open. The employee knocked, confirmed and ventured through (not as open as open would indicate). The employee begins to engage with the leader and the leader A) engages with listening, body language and words or B) dismisses the feedback by the same gestures. Input from employees may not come at times that are of convenience to the receiving party but are always of some level of importance to the transmitting party.

Dismissal following the transmission of input.

The door was open. The employee shared their feedback. The leader made it through the conversation and communicated that the information was received with importance, what will the leader do to follow up with the input received from the team? The leader A) conducts a proper investigation into the information preferred to determine appropriate action or B) dismiss the input by doing nothing to follow up on the feedback received. Employees do not expect leaders to be omniscient, to know everything that is going on, but they do expect leaders to engage when a negative action is brought to the attention of leadership (more on this HERE).

Dismissal of the confirmation of input.

What happens when the leader listens, the leader investigates and then the leader confirms the input received by their employee? If an appropriate response or action is warranted, the test of leadership is now on display — what will the informed leader do? Leaders should not want themselves to be ignorant of issues, this is one of the great values of a truly open door, that employees are willing to share earnest concerns with leadership so that the team can address issues and maintain health should be celebrated. An ignorant leader who becomes informed and yet refuses action displays impotence. Why should employees care enough to make positive changes when leadership has demonstrated that it is not valued by them?

Leadership is an extension of customer service within your organization. When leaders demonstrate care and service to their employees they perform several key functions including engaging their employees, encouraging positive action and demonstrating how the organization treats people. A healthy organizational culture is an extension of the positive example of leaders who are engaged in the processes of the team and the activities of employees who reinforce those values to each other as well as their customers.

​Earnest input and feedback from team members at every layer within the organization is critical to progress and growth. A company with no input from team members either has employees that do not care or employees who have concluded from the actions (dismissal) of management that leadership does not care.

Originally published at