I have always had an ‘open door’ policy – sometimes enforced by the absence of a door!
The other day I found myself wondering why I make this choice, and I’ve managed to identify three reasons.
First of all, I want to be available – if my door is open, anyone can come in. You don’t need an appointment, however, if you want my undivided attention it’s better to make one. I’m (usually) pleased when people drop by – whether it’s a passing ‘how are things?’, a spot of unscheduled coaching, tossing an idea around, or whatever.
The second reason is that when the door is closed, it’s closed for a reason. Occasionally, in winter, it’s to retain precious heat, but generally it’s because I do not want to be interrupted. It doesn’t matter whether I’ve got anyone with me or not – the closed door means don’t come in. If you do, you’ll be met with a polite but firm ‘I’m busy, please go away’.
I should acknowledge that I’m very fortunate with the office that I’ve occupied for the past 18 months. Not only is it a single person office – meaning I can choose when to close the door – but it’s a first-floor corner office with views over the Angus hills and countryside. But I digress.
As well as adopting this approach myself, I try to apply it to others as well, including staff in open-plan offices (who don’t have doors to open or close). I make it my practice whenever I approach someone to check if it’s a convenient time to talk. If not, I’m happy to come back at a later, agreed time.
The third reason for my open door policy? I’ll come to that tomorrow!