An Open Door Isn't Enough

One of the things I hear a lot from leaders is reference to an "open door policy."

Behind that verbage is a good-hearted desire to hear from staff and be approachable.

The problem is that having an open-door policy isn't enough. Usually, you'll end up hearing from two kinds of folks--1) Complainers who want to dump something in your lap for you to solve or 2) Extroverts who don't have any hesitation about walking through your open door. You'll be missing the introverts (and they always have the most thoughtful things to say!) and you'll probably be missing out on hearing the good things that are afoot in the organization.

This is where you need to employ what I call The Power of Invitation. Invite staff to give you feedback about how things are going. Seek them out. There are so many ways to do this. I suppose one of them is creating a survey and hitting "send," but try to avoid that one. Walk around and ask folks questions. Things like, "What's going well here right now? What's hard?" or "What's one thing you want me to know about your job?" or "What ideas do you have about improving things in this department/team/organization?" Set up lunch or coffee dates with folks. Use small chunks of time in regular meetings to ask broader questions about how things are going. Set up an actual or virtual bulletin board for staff to leave comments and questions. When you're in groups asking for feedback, do a go-around so you hear from everyone and not just the Talkers.

And, if you're still so inclined, you can also leave your door open.