While nice in theory, official “open door” policies are often ineffective in practice—for a host of reasons. In an article for Inc. magazine, entrepreneur Logan Chierotti said of the open door policy, “In the eyes of your employees, it’s one of those throwaway buzzwords that management uses all the time, but never means.”
While I’m sure there are many organizations that have implemented excellent, effective open door policies, for the most part I believe Chierotti is exactly right. Many executives and senior leaders who claim to have an “open door” rarely see anyone outside of the C-suite walk through that door—literally or figuratively.
Why? Because people in the organization don’t feel as though the door is really open. No matter the official corporate policy or what was said during their orientation, countless employees perceive their most senior leaders as inaccessible, unavailable, and unapproachable.
To be a more effective, inspirational leader, you must recognize that approachability requires more than merely being present and expecting people to come to you. Redefine “open door” and take intentional steps to ensure you are truly accessible and available to people at every level of your organization.
One of the most obvious and key components of being truly approachable is to be physically accessible and available. But beyond having a literal open door and regular office hours, make yourself even more accessible and available by purposefully leaving your office and interacting with employees throughout your organization. Don’t merely acknowledge and converse with others, truly engage others with openness and honesty.
Remember, to be approachable, don’t merely open your door to those whom you lead, open yourself.
[This article was adapted from Chapter 7 of my book, Be An Inspirational Leader]