An open door policy can be an effective way to encourage greater transparency and communication within your department. But if it's not something professionals have been used to, it can be a difficult thing to initiate.
For managers it can also have the added benefit of giving some structure to your day, giving employees specific slots when they are able to sit down and chat with you.
If it's not implemented properly, you might find that people either don't respect the boundaries of the open door policy or don't use it at all.
Here's how to establish an open door policy that works:
1. Be clear from the start
Encouraging employees to come and chat to you at any time can be an effective way of creating more trust between management and staff but can also be impractical. If this is the case, you may need to add some caveats to your policy. Setting time slots can be an effective way of giving people the opportunity to come and talk to you without ruining your productivity.
This allows you to schedule your day better as you're aware of when people are likely to come and interrupt you. However, it can also give added benefits to employees. Setting time slots for an open door policy can encourage people to use it, as it'll be clear when it's appropriate.
Whichever form of the policy you choose to adopt, it's important that you are clear about it and communicate this to every employee.
2. Tie it into your culture
If you really want your open door policy to be effective, it needs to come alongside a wider cultural shift. The idea of open door initiatives is that they create a more transparent and trusting relationship between employees and their bosses, whether line managers or higher-level directors. It needs to come as part of a company mission to value the ideas, thoughts and opinions of everyone working at the business.
Without this you'll find that employees don't take the policy seriously or doubt the sincerity of the values behind the idea so it's essential that you consider the reasons your company is adopting this approach.
3. Follow up on discussions
For employees that come to discuss matters or give you their ideas, it's really important that you follow up on anything that arises during your chat. This will give sincerity to your open door policy as people will feel assured that you're not just going through the motions but actually respect their opinion.
It may not be within your power to make changes off the back of what they've shared, even if you agree with them but it's important that you acknowledge that you have followed up on whatever it was you promised to do. Even if you're only sending them an email, it can go a long way to giving professionals confidence in the open door policy.