January 6, 2017

I went to Charleston over New Years and enjoyed time with my best friends, food and fun.  Charleston is an intriguing historical city.  The houses in town cannot change their structures, and so purchasing a home is not only expensive but the maintenance is ten times more expensive than the original purchase; however, the homes and historical significance is amazing.  They used to build homes with a front door to nowhere (see below) so that neighbors would know that if the door was open, it was a good time for socializing and if it wasn’t, they should come back later.  What a great idea!  This reminded me of open door policies in business.  Are you doing something to show that you are open to interactions with your colleagues?

One tip to implement this week:
The great news about open door policies is that it is easy to implement in a week, let alone 2 minutes.  Just open your door.

Of course, if you are not approachable, opening your door might not be sufficient.  Think about how you can be clear if you are available to talk with colleagues and employees.  And, if you are available, focus your attention on the person; not your email or your phone.  Show that he/she is a priority.

If you always leave your door open but are not really available, make some sort of visual signal or way for everyone to know whether you are available.  There is no reason to imply that you are available yet you are distracted the entire time with another priority.  The mistake I see most often falls into one of two categories: 1) looking available with an open door but not paying any attention because you aren’t really available OR 2) always appearing unavailable.

Instead, pick times you will be available, find a way to communicate this availability, stick to it and listen.  Be upfront when you aren’t available as you can’t give them the focus anyway.