In Focus: When a Leader's Accessibility Becomes a Headache

By Kathy Gurchiek May 12, 2017

Steve Harvey (Photo by ​Angela George).

The entertainment world has a new Greta Garbo: Talk show host Steve Harvey wants to be left alone—at least at work. He's tired of the constant interruptions.

Enough's enough, he decided, and he issued what some consider a harsh memo to his staff that came to light Wednesday. In it he asks them to leave him alone while he's in the makeup chair and walking down the hall, and warns that his security team will give the old heave-ho to anyone attempting to pop into his dressing room without an invitation or appointment.

So how do executives remain accessible and have an "open-door policy," which Harvey said he had previously employed, while still retaining some privacy and time to concentrate on other aspects of their job?

5 Really Good Reasons You Should Re-Think Your Open-Door Policy 

The concept of an open-door policy is that it promotes communication on all levels, and communication is one of the most important pillars of a successful organization. However, what happens when your goal of open communication turns into a steady stream of interruptions? 

The Problem with Saying 'My Door Is Always Open'

Consider the phrase "My door is always open." It contains a number of assumptions. First, people should meet you on your territory, rather than the other way around. Second, you have the luxury of a door. Third, you can choose when to close or open it. These details are small but important.
(Harvard Business Review)

[SHRM member-only toolkit: Managing Organizational Communication]

How to Make an Open-Door Policy Work 

Open-door polices promote open communication, transparency and positive work relationships, but business leaders should be thoughtful about how they implement and promote open-door communications. Establish a productive middle ground between continuous interruptions and barring the door.
(The Business Journals

Approachable vs. Accessible 

Many leaders have their door open but are not approachable because of their leadership style.  Being approachable should be one of the key parts of employee retention strategies.
(Jeff Kortes blog)

Trust the Process: 10 Tips to Empower and Encourage Your Staff 

Employees may not feel the need to constantly seek out their senior leadership for direction if they feel empowered to make decisions affecting the business.

Successful Leaders Don't Have An 'Open Door' 

The goals of an open-door policy are admirable. In theory, an organization uses such openness to build a culture of trust, collaboration, communication and respect regardless of an individual's position in the hierarchy. However, the disadvantages are real. Here are some of "war stories" of an open-door policy gone wrong.
(Huffington Post)

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