Rethinking the Open-Door Policy
Image courtesy of resourcefulmanager.com

Rethinking the Open-Door Policy

I Have an Open-Door Policy
Talk to almost any leader for long enough, and they will likely tell you that they have an open-door policy. A workplace practice designed to encourage transparency, trust, and feedback, the open-door encourages employees to stop by any leader’s office to ask questions, share suggestions, or discuss concerns, which often leads to increased retention and higher performance.

Why the Open-Door Might Need to be Closed
Despite the popularity of the open-door policy, many leaders also recognize its drawbacks. For instance, they have experienced a decline in productivity when employees use the open-door as an opportunity for long venting sessions instead of sharing a specific issue. In addition, leaders have seen a tendency among employees to use the open-door as an excuse to break the organizational hierarchy or chain of command. They have even observed long-term negative impacts, including a reduced capacity (or willingness) for employees to solve day-to-day issues independently and adoption of poorly vetted ideas when leaders quickly try to address employee concerns without discussing them with other departmental leaders.

What About a Different Approach? 
You may be asking yourself, “How do we maximize the benefits of an open-door policy while minimizing the disadvantages?” A simple solution is to put boundaries around our open-door practices. For instance, we can create expectations about the topics that are appropriate for the open-door and the process that leaders will use to follow up on open-door conversations. Unfortunately, some organizations have adopted those guidelines, only to discover that people stopped walking through the open door because it no longer felt as inviting.

So, what if we tried a completely different approach? What if we adopted a “Go to the Open-Door Policy?” What if leaders routinely visited their team members in their working spaces and asked key questions such as:

  • What’s going well for you today?
  • What obstacles have you faced in your work today? What did you do to overcome those obstacles in the moment?
  • If you could do one thing to make your day/work/job more manageable, what would it be?
  • What’s one thing you wish I knew about your job?

In our opinion, this approach offers some unique advantages to the common open-door approach, including:

  • Leaders will hear targeted feedback. Questions are a great way to frame a conversation around pertinent issues and concerns, and the responses often lead to coachable moments.
  • Interactions will have less awkward endings. There’s nothing more uncomfortable than asking a person to leave your office because you’re busy. Instead, imagine getting to say, “I really appreciate the feedback you shared. Thanks for letting me interrupt your work for a few minutes. I better let you get back to it.”
  • Conversations will be more relational. It always feels good for someone to check on us, and because people are more comfortable in their own spaces, team members will feel more like sharing how they really feel.

—–

From Reflection to Action: What key questions would you like to ask your team members? This week, which day will you commit to going to the open-door?

Ethos Leadership Group, LLC

Share Today!

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on email

Recent Posts

Read More. Lead More.

Trust
Communication

Fast-Track Trust

Ask anyone to talk about people they trust, and the conversation will inevitably turn to how long they’ve known a

Read More »
My
Communication

Communication Breakdown

Communication breakdown It’s always the same I’m having a nervous breakdown Drive me insane When the members of Led Zeppelin penned those lyrics

Read More »
Take a Break
Self-Care

Take A Break

Every now and then, a familiar ache befalls leaders. The glare of our computer screen appears to suddenly intensify. Our

Read More »

Sign Up Today!

Leadership Content Delivered to Your Inbox

We believe leaders need support and encouragement. That’s why we send emails to our clients and friends every Monday with content designed to help us renew and refocus for the week ahead. If you would like to start your week with us, sign up today.

Partner with Ethos

Sherri Ferrell

“Whether it’s using a self-assessment process to identify ways to improve board effectiveness, leading the board in strategy development and succession planning, or assisting with CEO performance evaluations, Ethos is skilled at assessing the scope of a board’s needs and devising strategies to help improve their performance and the performance of their organizations.”

Sherri Ferrell
Chief Executive Officer, West Virginia Primary Care Association
Lisa Jones

“I cannot say enough great things about the strategic planning process with Ethos. The process was not only fun but truly engaging. Becky and David were able to take a multitude of ideas from more than 30 participatory team members and help consolidate them into a workable functional plan. I will definitely use Ethos again for strategic planning and other leadership consulting needs!”

Lisa Jones
Chief Executive Officer, Southern Highlands Community Mental Health Center
Renee Steffen

“Ethos was a true consultative partner in our strategic planning process. They listened to our organization’s feedback and were flexible in incorporating modifications into the process in a way that demonstrated they valued our organization’s culture and history. In addition to walking alongside us every step of the way, Ethos’s facilitation skills are top-notch. They helped move the conversation forward during critical breakthrough moments while ensuring everyone felt heard and valued. Several of our board members commented that it was the best strategic planning process in which they had ever participated. I can tell Ethos has a passion for helping clients move forward in a positive direction and this positive energy was highly evident in our experience working with them. We weren’t just another client but rather, we were a valued partner in the work!”

Renee Steffen
Executive Director, Sisters Health Foundation
Stacy DeCicco

“Our work with the Ethos team has impacted nearly every facet of our organization. Our initial experience engaged our board in a strategic thinking exercise. This half day event was originally scheduled to be an isolated experience; what it became was a launching point for organizational growth, professional development, and intentional, sustainable efforts. Our amazing experience within the strategic planning session brought mission and vision centered decision making to life for our team. The conversations of that day were not simply discussions that were archived and put on a shelf at the end of the meeting. They quickly transformed into digestible, attainable action items. Immediate implementation was possible because of the ongoing support and facilitation we received from the Ethos team. That energy and momentum flowed from the board, through our team, and out to the agencies that we support and engage across the community. We are a stronger organization because we are now able to execute our mission and serve our community better than ever before. The investment Ethos has made with us has created ripples that are felt further than they can ever be measured!”

Stacy DiCicco
Executive Director, United Way Alliance of the Mid‑Ohio Valley
Greg Franks

“Having served in leadership roles for several property management companies, I’ve had the opportunity to work with numerous consulting firms. My experience with Ethos Leadership, which involved an operational analysis of an active adult community with more than 16,000 residents, was one of the best experiences.”

“After spending two weeks embedded with our operational team and reviewing hundreds of documents, Ethos provided a comprehensive analysis and set of recommendations that addressed HR, Infrastructure, Leadership, Finance, Programs & Services, Planning, and Customer Service. Following Ethos’ analysis, we executed a plan to adopt sixteen (16) actionable steps that improved our operations while honoring the culture and values of our company and our client.”

“This entire experience set in motion a plan of execution that the community and its residents have benefited from and will for years to come. I highly recommend Ethos and their entire leadership team.”

Greg Franks
Vice President Southeast Region, AAM
Lisa Leach

“I best describe our organization’s experience of leadership development with Ethos Leadership Group as a journey of discovery that leads to building effective teams who are willing to break the silo mentality that often holds organizations from reaching their true potential. I have watched members of both our Management and C-Suite
levels grow and mature through the process Ethos Leadership Group has developed. Staff actively participates in assisting each other to achieve interdepartmental and strategic goals and share in each other’s successes rather than focus on one another’s missed opportunities. Through the discussion-based approach, our management team has learned to feel more confident in their decisionmaking abilities resulting in more effective and timely decisions. Ethos does a tremendous job of defining characteristics of effective leadership and helping staff to identify how their weaknesses and strengths can work in harmony to achieve organizational goals.”

Lisa Leach
Chief Executive Officer, Southern West Virginia Health System
Wendy Gall

“My time participating in the Ethos Executive Coaching program was a pivotal point
for me both professionally, as a new leader, and personally. Based off of a deep understanding of me as an individual, my coach was able to provide invaluable
insights and practices that helped guide me at a time in my career that was, I have to admit, a bit overwhelming. Our insightful discussions, along with the relationship that grew throughout our time working together, challenged me to grow in my areas of weakness and build on my strength, helped me formulate my thoughts around my leadership style, and provided me the tools and support I needed to gain confidence in becoming the authentic leader I am today.”

Wendy Gall
Director, Customer Care Strategic Initiatives and Innovation, First National Bank of Omaha
Enderson Miranda

“Ethos Leadership has been a trusted partner of OnSomble for several years. All members of our executive team trust and rely on Ethos’ expertise and advice. I have personally benefited tremendously by having Ethos available as a sounding board for strategic decisions over my years as COO and CEO at OnSomble. I can confidently say that Ethos consistently plays an important role in the continued growth and success of our company. I would unequivocally recommend the Ethos Leadership Group to any organization that wants to excel.”

Enderson Miranda
Chief Executive Officer, OnSomble, Inc.
Craig Glover

“The team at Ethos Leadership Group are great partners. They listened to my goals and developed a plan specific to my needs. Often, leadership groups have one approach they try to use for every situation. Ethos is different. Their various tools and approaches allows them to develop a custom plan for your organization.”

“The onsite work with the Ethos team was excellent. They are interactive, engaging, and fun. The session felt like a group of friends having a candid discussion as opposed to a work session. I highly recommend working with Ethos Leadership Group.”

Craig Glover
President and CEO, FamilyCare Health Centers
David Ray - Ethos Leadership Group

Ethos Team:

David Ray

Chief Strategy Officer

In 2017, David joined Ethos as the Chief Strategy Officer after leading and advising in the non-profit sector. An organizational troubleshooter and natural synergist, David leverages his analytical and relational skills to help clients take their business and team to their desired next level. With a passion to see others live and lead well, David enjoys connecting leaders to evidence-based practices to boost leadership capacity, build human capital, and improve organizational performance. David particularly enjoys working with clients through strategic planning, executive coaching, and team development.

Fast Facts:

  1. Started his own property investment company at the age of 24
  2. Certified Human Behavior Consultant
  3. David enjoys spending time with his family, traveling to islands, and pretty much anything that has to do with personal development
Rebekah D. Mathis-Stump, J.D. - Ethos Leadership Group

Ethos Team:

Rebekah D. Mathis-Stump, J.D.

Chief Operating Officer

Becky joined Ethos in 2009 after leading the daily operations of five distinct work teams over a ten-year period. An analyst and solution-generator by nature, she works with clients to identify their needs and develops a plan of action to reach their desired results. Having worked in numerous disciplines in her career, Becky is a generalist who brings a broad range of knowledge and experience to our clients. Becky particularly enjoys working with clients on organizational audits, strategic planning, employee training, and governance.

Fast Facts:

  1. Lived in numerous states growing up, finally claiming West Virginia as home after marrying a native son, Jeff Stump
  2. Received life membership in The Order of the Barristers — a national honor society
  3. Becky enjoys reading, golfing, and cheering on the West Virginia University Mountaineers
Dr. James A. Johnson - Ethos Leadership Group

Ethos Team:

Dr. James A. Johnson

Chief Executive Officer

In 1988, James launched our enterprise with a vision for enhancing the image, credibility, and ethics of companies and nonprofit organizations through training and coaching. As Ethos’ founder, he is our chief transformation officer – encouraging us to dream bigger dreams and mentoring us to achieve them. James brings this same passion to our clients, skillfully blending inspiration with practical application in his work. James’ primary areas of expertise include leadership and communication.

Fast Facts:

  1. Great Plains Development Officer at Pheasants Forever.
  2. Received President’s Volunteer Service Award (presented by President George W. Bush)
  3. James enjoys spending time with his wife (Lesa), hunting, golfing, and riding motorcycles