Open Door Policy: The Beginner’s Guide

There is a saying, an employee joins the company but leaves a manager.

According to the Gallup poll results, more than 1 million employees stated that the main reason behind leaving the company is not the position but their bosses.

The stat says that 75% of employees voluntarily leave their jobs only because of the bad bosses and having immediate supervisors.

That’s why it becomes crucial to understand how you can stop yourself from becoming one of those bosses. Lots of businesses are supporting as well as following the open door policy as it’s a good start for solving such issues.

What Does Open Door Policy Mean?

When a business has an open-door policy, it means that the manager’s door is open for their employees.

The main purpose is to encourage better and open communication between managers and employees.

Also, it helps in improving feedback and discussion regarding anything that can be important for the employees.

Open door policy helps the employee to take their concerns, questions as well as suggestions related to the workplace outside the chain of command without any hassle.

pros open door policy in workplace

Having the open door policy develops the trust among employees. The managers also get the benefit by getting feedback directly from the employee’s which can be helpful to make further decisions and changes.

Why Do You Need an Open Door Policy For Your Business?

There are different reasons why a business needs to have an open-door policy, but the prime is to demonstrate to others that the managers are accessible when it’s required.

Also, It helps in encouraging a new flow of communication in the workplace. This helps in gaining more access to the information and keeping updated with whatever going on.

reasons why business requires open door policy

To understand better about this, here are  some of the reasons that you can consider :

Encouraging Effective Communication

Every company is required to have better communication with their employees. This helps in understanding better regarding what to do and improves the relationship.

Employees always have some suggestions, feedback, and concerns while they work for the company. When they have the open door policy, they can easily approach their managers.

As for the managers,  they can easily address the concerns of the employees. With this, it makes effective communication between the management and the employees.

According to a Gallup poll,  managers who received more feedback from their employees showed 12.5 % better results in productivity.

With this, the management can get better results. Also, it makes it easier to detect if there are any work-related problems going on in the early stage.

Reporting The Harassments  

Harassments in the workplace can create an environment that makes the employees feel unsafe,  intimidating,  offensive, and toxic.

According to CNBC’s poll, there are 19% of adult Americans who claim that they have suffered sexual harassment in their workplace.

Further, the poll stated is, there are 10% men and 27% women as victims.

It can be sexual, verbal, or physical which not just interferes with the work of your employees but also it’s something serious where the actions against this should be taken faster.

With an open culture, it’s beneficial for the employees to feel welcome. Also, it makes it easier to discuss their concerns and highlight if something like this is going on to the management.

As for management,  this helps in retaining the working environment which can be safe for everyone.

It also helps in taking action to prevent sexual assaults as well as abuse in the workplace.

Preventing Confusion & Rumors

For any business and management, having confusion as well as rumors can be damaging and create a toxic environment for everyone.

This can be related to the management or the company which should be addressed as soon as it arises.

When the company has an open-door policy, the employees can easily and directly communicate to the management.

With this, the chances of creating unnecessary rumors and confusion decline too.

Also, the employees can directly approach the management if they heard any kind of rumors going on. Not only will this bring unnecessary rumors to attention, but for management, it will be easier to take action.

It’s important to remember that rumors are fast to spread, that’s why the management should take action as soon as possible.

Fostering Mutual trust And Collaboration Culture

According to the Harvard Business Review survey, there are 58% of employees who state that they trust strangers more than the bosses.

This happens due to lack of communication which causes distrust and understanding.

The company where they have an open-door policy, it creates better transparency in communication for both employees and the management.

This helps in building trust as well as collaboration.

Also, it promotes better loyal employees and productive teams.

Having such a policy makes your employee trust your managers and vice versa. It improves the relationships and fosters mutual trust as well as collaboration culture in the workplace.

How Open Door Policy Works?

Well when you have the open door policy,  employees are able to meet the senior leaders without any worry.

When the employer approaches the senior leaders with the query or question, it’s the responsibility of the executive to listen and observe.

Also, they have to give input if the employees approach them at their door or schedule meetings.

But the matter is something that should be solved by the superiors. Then the executives are required to ask if the employee discusses with the direct boss.

Also, the employees create barriers on their own with their bosses based on assumptions regarding how they will deal with the situation. That’s why having the open door policy helps in breaking such barriers.

The companies require to train their managers as well as staff so they can understand how to use this policy.

Without the training and proper guidance,  employees can misuse the policy for tattling other employees or crossing the boundaries with the managers.

If the company fails to not understand the policy properly, this can encourage employees to believe that their leaders are the only ones who can solve the problems and make decisions.  

Not just that, there are several pitfalls where either employees and managers might end up misusing the policy. It includes :

Lack Of Interest From Leaders

If there are such situations where managers are not available or in case of being distracted due to some other work.

This can enable them to attend to the employees who are trying to talk. Well, this might show the leaders are not taking interest in what their team wants to say.

Oversharing & Too Much Socializing

Without the training, the employees and leaders don’t understand what they should share, when, and how. This can make things go out of control, and the employee and managers end up oversharing.

This can always lead to boosting favoritism in the workplace.

Too Much Relaying

The employees require to understand how much they should rely on the leaders and what responsibility they hold.

With training, the roles can be clear and both will know what to expect. This helps in avoiding the chances of getting too dependent. Also, it boosts productivity and problem solving on their own.

How To Establish The Open  Door Policy?

To make sure that your business is having the best of the open door policy. It’s important to know how you can establish your policy in the most efficient way.

ways get started with open door policy

Here are a few steps that can help in making sure of that.

Step 1: Set The Parameters Of What The Policy Is About

As a manager, the key role is to keep your finger on what is not going right with the team. This makes it important for you to be accessible so you can have a meaningful discussion. Also, avoid becoming a counselor or micromanager.

This is why you need to establish clear communication. It is important for building a successful open-door policy.

There are some examples that you can consider :

If the door is open, the employees can stop by and have the conversation they want to. But if it’s closed, they are required to find the time to make the appointment.

Ask your employees to get through some questions before they approach you. Make sure they know how the issue will affect and whom. Get some solution on their own too.

If there is something which is extremely important and can’t wait. Then even if the door is closed, they can knock or find you as soon as it can.

The managers are required to establish the office house even if he encourages informal or frequent conversation.

It helps the managers to set the time apart to focus on the team as well as other work.

Step 2: Listen Intently

Well, the next step which plays an important role is listening.  The supervisor is required to listen intently when their employees are telling them.

Make sure you are not disturbing them when they are talking. Avoid picking calls,  emails, or talking to someone else.

Also, ask the points to make sure you are on the same page. If there is something you are not sure about, ask them to repeat it.

Recap the whole thing so you know what the problem is about. Do not behave like you are dismissing them. It might be the vent but there might be some genuine issues behind the frustration.

If the issue keeps happening again and again. Ask your employee to know the pattern and what might be the solution to it.

When you push the conversation toward the solution,  it will discourage your employees from venting and they will come up with the solutions.

It will help them by relying on their own ability and boost their confidence to solve the issues.

Step 3: Set The Expectations

This is important to ask the employees who are going to use the policy. With this, you can gain their trust as well as support. Ask for feedback, suggestions, and what they want from it.

You can ask about what they will prefer, as they can set the time or make an appointment. With this, you can understand what the team actually wants from the open door policy.

It will help in boosting the confidence too, the employee might feel more involved in the policy and they will know what to expect from it too.

Step 4: Time Is valuable

Understanding that time is available even if it’s your employee or the supervisors.  When there is no control over when the employee can approach, this might cause hassle and disturbance.

Also, it can affect productivity and the supervisors might find it hard to focus on their work as well as managing the time.

This is why it’s important to solve the issues on your own or at least try to do it. Here are some tips that can make the open door policy efficient.

To save time, get the involvement of human resources to provide personal support to the employee.

Make sure you are not letting the same employee do the frequent closed-door meetings. This can cause gossip or it can give a prescription of favoritism.

The productivity of supervisors and bosses, including you, is important. If the issue requires more time, set a schedule for a meeting instead of using your whole day.

What Happens If an Open Door Policy Gets Broken?

In case of a manager or senior failing to solve the problems and provide an immediate response, it will undermine the responsible making decisions as well as solving problems.

Well, the open-door policy will not work properly if the relationship between employee and manager is not properly built.

The problem solving should be done to the place where the solutions are most relevant as well as close to the job.

During this, it’s important to not set the mom vs dad cases.  It means the sustain where the employees are only going to the manager where they are receiving the favorable answers.

Make sure the conversation is taken to the boss or not, and follow up for confirming about the case.

What Are The Drawbacks Of Having an Open Door Policy?

Well, an open-door policy is helpful for the company but there are few drawbacks that come with it too.

It can be due to the bad training or implication of the policy that can cause this.

cons having open door policy

 The company requires them to understand these drawbacks so they can find the solution to cover such problems.

Well, it includes :

It Can Waste Time

According to Gloria Mark, who is a professor of Informatics at the University of Clafarisia found in the research that an office worker requires 25 minutes to get back to his or her work after they get interrupted.

Well, this implies on the managers and supervisors who require the employee to attend because of the policy.  

There are chances that the employees can take long hours to vent their concerns. It takes a large chunk of time from the manager’s schedule which disturbs his productivity at work.

This also results in the chances of not completing his work and taking care of responsibility because the manager is using his time in listening to the employees.

How To Solve It?

Well, the simplest way to solve this is to tell your employees that the open-door policy is a problem-solving mechanism.

The main purpose of using the policy is to help the company to run efficiently. It’s not an excuse for over-socializing during working hours.

It Can Boost The Dependency

The open-door policy helps the employees that they will easily get access to managers when they are needed. So they can approach them if they have any kind of work-related problem or concerns.

However, when the policy is not clearly understood this can cause dependency. With too much use of this can make the employees rely on their superiors to solve all of their problems 

With this, they can become over-dependent instead of making their own decisions. Also, it’s not good when the employees don’t have a problem-solving mentality.

Well, it can cause them to be afraid of taking action and they will run to their managers whenever the problem arises.

How To Solve It?

To solve this matter, make sure you limit the time of approaching. You can set the conditions beforehand like mentioned earlier.

Always leaving your door open discourages the employees from apparition bias to action. Make sure they know the conditions, for example, they can knock on the door when it’s something urgent.

Or they need to find some solution or the best possible way out of the problems on their own before they approach the managers.


It Can Cause Disruption Of Chain In Command

Since the policy allows the employees to approach the managers and superiors without worrying about the chain of command, this can cause disruption.

The employees can cause a violation in the name of the open door policy.  This type of open culture can encourage the employees to feel entitled for going beyond managers, leaders, and executives on a higher level.

With this, there might be chances of creating the distance between the employee and managers with whom they should be working.

How To Solve It?

Make sure that your employees know the use of the policy.  Also, the managers require not to show favoritism and bias.

The more clear implementation of the policy they will know, the better chances of avoiding such hassle will grow.

However, it depends on how the company is implementing the policy.

What Happens If You Don’t Have an Open Door Policy?

When the company doesn’t have an open-door policy or environment it can affect different aspects of their workplace.

Open door policy helps in improving the relationship between the superiors, leaders, and employees.

Without that, there are some vital things that can happen. Such as :

Superiors Distancing Themselves

There are chances that the leaders and supervisors might create a distance between the employees and themselves.

It can isolate them from the rest of the team which creates a gap. This can be harmful as it will affect the relationship between them and employees.

Lack Of Addressing

The managers might don’t have the right way to address the issues of employee’s Performance. This can get worse as time passes but also with the lack of visibility of how they should approach, this can affect badly on both employee and managers.

Bad Effect On Team Morale

When there is no environment where employees can freely approach their leaders and managers, this will make everyone uncomfortable and creates imaginary barriers.

With this, the team morale can get down as there is no place for doing open discussions or precipitation of a  company culture that is too secretive.

Decline In Company Culture

With a lack of communication and approaches, the employees and managers will create more distance between them. This leads to a decline in the company culture where productivity can get affected too

Also, it can boost employee turnover in the company.

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