Does it Work to Use the Open-Door Policy to Create Connection and Results?

Listening is a major part of effective communication and warrants more focused attention, so today’s post is about how to achieve connection more effectively and how to upgrade your listening and communication.

I can guarantee as you give this more attention, particularly as you move into planning for year ahead, you will find that leadership teamwork, as well as cross functional collaborative leadership conversations, will be more successful.

As you build your listening skills it becomes easier to create a greater connection between you and your colleagues. It is not necessary to inquire about their personal lives to be connected. In fact that can be disconcerting. It is more a matter of being interested in who they are and how they think about what is being discussed. So often in conversation we think about what we are saying without paying attention to the interactive process. The key to engagement is in knowing what the other person thinks and giving the space for them to say that.

Essential communication which includes time for connection is something that has parameters and needs focus. Time is at a premium so intentional conversations are important.

How many of you are using the open-door policy?

This is often seen as the way to create a sense of availability and connection. My opinion is that this is a false premise that can create inefficiency, block high performance and impede effective communication. There are several aspects of the open-door policy that I would like to discuss as a way of introducing more efficiency and effective meeting time.

A few years ago I was asked to coach the COO of a large regional bank. I was coaching the President, CEO, and several senior vice presidents on the leadership team. One of the COO’ s stated goals for our coaching engagement was time management because he was consistently taking work home in the evenings and over the weekend. In addition, and more important, he was quiet at the top leadership meetings and felt unseen and out of communication with the CEO.

As we discussed his view of his job and the important priorities he had developed, he began to talk about his open-door policy. As you might imagine, he was extremely well liked by all and spent his day getting interrupted constantly. This to me is an example of the collaborative leadership premise that states that one of the least successful modes used for communication is the “drop-in meeting.”

In our initial conversations, I became aware of his caring and his expertise. In addition he had some innovative and expansive ideas for the development of the bank that he had not shared with his peers, the President or the CEO of the bank. He had developed a sense of inadequacy because of his lack of time to focus on preparation for the executive leadership meetings.

We all appreciate a sense of control over our lives, but in reality the “drop-in” creates interruption, a lack of preparation, and can lengthen into a long period of time where the person who has dropped in has abdicated her responsibility for reflection, research and decision making.

As I worked with my client we set up a new routine which called for having his available hours posted on the door so that appointments could be made for those times. A positive consequence of this routine was that the members of his team began to talk more to each other and to arrive at his office with more organized thinking and with decisions for approval rather than beginning discussions.

In addition, he was able to organize his day and set aside time on the calendar for thought projects that he wanted to do, which also gave him confidence to discuss his ideas in the Executive Leadership meetings. The latter created a greater sense of executive presence and value for him which served to enhance his presence as a top leader.

If you have been experiencing interruptions and a feeling at the end of the day that you did not drive any of your priorities consider changing the open door. This is just one, easy to change, performance tip that can have many positive consequences for your colleagues, and for your team.

Do you have any questions, challenges, or successes you would like to share? Please be sure to leave a comment. I would enjoy hearing from you! – Patricia