Open-door policy: What it hinges on

Communication is only possible when you are accessible, so an open-door policy is essential if real communication is to occur.

Your staff must be able to come to you to ask for help, to share information and to consult with you on both business and personal issues. If people resist coming to you for any reason, there will be only one result: You will become isolated from your own department.

As a manager, your job is to make it easy for communication to occur from the employee to you and back again. That’s why you cannot isolate yourself behind closed office doors.

Bear in mind, too, that newly hired and relatively inexperienced employees may feel very intimidated by your position. As a result, they will fear coming to you—even if you are a cordial, friendly manager.

What it means: Having an open-door policy doesn’t mean that your door must be open every minute of the day. You may have a compelling reason to shut yourself away from time to time. You may need uninterrupted quiet to think, plan or reach a deadline. The key to a workable open-door policy is to establish regular times when you are accessible—the more the better.

In closing: Share your goals and concerns with the staff and delegate authority clearly. That way your people will know which situations they can resolve on their own, and which ones merit a knock on your door frame.