Am I a Bad Manager? A Closer Look at Open-Door Policies

Like all employees, managers should be in a constant state of evaluation. Every once in a while, they need to take a step back and examine how their practices are affecting employee engagement.

We want to help, so we’ve identified some common behaviors we’ve seen that might be negatively affecting the employee experience. We then offer potential solutions and ways managers can slightly adjust their current practices to increase employee engagement and drive productivity.

Current State: The Open-Door Policy

In theory, the idea of an open-door policy is awesome. The thought that employees can pop in to ask questions or source feedback from their manager at any time helps employees feel comfortable and heard while positioning the manager as open and caring.

But in reality, we all know a true open-door policy isn’t possible. Managers’ schedules are generally filled to the brim with important meetings. It’s very tough for them to be available to employees at all times – there’s just not enough time in the day.

And this is where the real problem arises. When managers promise their availability but don’t follow through, employees feel deceived and develop negative feelings toward the manager. An initiative that was originally put into place to boost employee engagement actually ends up decreasing it.

Upgrade: Open Doors Policy

Whereas the open-door policy relies on the employee to take the initiative, an Open Doors Policy allows the manager to make things easier on employees. When using an Open Doors policy, managers are proactive in addressing employee concerns rather than reactive. 

With an Open Doors policy, managers:

  • Provide training and resources that either address employee issues before they arise or can be referenced instead of coming to the manager directly.
  • Take the initiative to check in with employees instead of waiting for issues to fester or for employees to summon the courage to ask for help.
  • Encourage open dialogue on all topics of conversation. Employees feel comfortable speaking their minds, providing feedback, and asking for help when the time is appropriate.
  • Make their calendar accessible so employees can easily see when managers are busy.
  • Help employees understand how to get help in urgent situations.
  • Physically open doors and encourage employees to walk through first. It’s amazing how this simple act can make managers feel more approachable.

To put it simply, when managers take care of their employees, there’s really no need for an open-door policy. When you adopt an Opens Doors policy, your mindset to managing – being proactive about setting your employees for success – can change dramatically. This shift can be felt by your employees.