During an executive coaching session last week, a client expressed concern that she never catches up on the things she needs to do. She is always running behind. So I asked her to describe a typical day at the spa. We quickly realized her open door policy was out of control! Her entire day is filled with interruptions! Anyone can walk into her office at any time… no regard to the chain of command. Rather than focusing on projects and tasks, her time was taken up by interruptions. How about you, do you practice an uncontrolled open door policy?
The open door policy was first initialized back in the eighties. Everyone was all gung ho about it and many consultants were advising clients to practice an open door policy. They wanted to be more approachable and give employees access to their executives at any time. In theory it sounds good, but in practice it does not work unless there are established controls or limits.
Think about it, if you have 40 people on your team and everyone stops by for 5 or 10 minutes to ask you a question or talk about something; you do the math, how much time does that leave you to get things done? Leaders end up coming to work at 5 am just so they can get what they need to get accomplished before the army marches in!
From a time management point of view, an uncontrolled open door policy doesn’t work. Now I am not saying that you don’t need to listen to your team or be accessible, you just need a policy that works. Here are some options that might work for you:
- Establish a window of opportunity for the team to meet with you. Notice I said window, not door!
- Place a comment card box where they can write to you.
- Implement a Departmental Lead Structure and conduct daily lead meetings to keep info flowing.
- Host weekly or bi-weekly meetings with your team. Have them bring up issues at that time.
- Provide a schedule or a signup sheet for once per Month one on one sessions.
- Departmental training manuals provide clear direction with answers to most frequently asked questions.
If you have a good structure in place with clearly defined position descriptions and training manuals within your spa, most interruptions will be minimized or eliminated. This will give you the freedom to focus on the BIG PICTURE!
The bottom line is to close your door, open a window and become more productive!
What do you think? Do you practice an open door policy? If so, evaluate your level of productivity.
Let us know what is working for you. Leave a comment. We enjoy hearing from you!