Rewriting the Open Door Policy

Last week I spoke to a group of sales managers from UniGroup, Inc. Part of our session dealt with physical availability, namely the common management cliche, “open door policy.”

I’ve read about this a thousand times. I’ve even had managers who assured me that there was, in fact, an open door policy.

So here’s my question: why is it always up to the employee to take the first step?

This reminds me of a key point about approachability that not enough people understand: it’s a two way street.

Literally. The word “approachability” comes from the Latin verb appropiare, or “to come nearer to.” Which means it’s both proative and reactive.

Unfortunately, management must have missed the boat on this one. For example, check out a few definitions of “open door policy” from

An open door policy provides employee access to any manager or supervisor including the CEO.

Adopt an open door policy that states any employee can talk with any level manager about any issue at any time.

Every manager’s door is open to every employee.

Our open door policy means that employees are free to talk with any manager at any time.

THE PROBLEM WITH THIS: it’s one sided. You don’t see anything about the manager stepping out to the employees, do you?

This is why we need to rewrite the Open Door Policy. The door should swing both ways. Managers should not only keep their own doors open; but get out of their offices and open other people’s doors too.

After all, the only way to get to your employee’s door is by first stepping onto his front porch.


How would you rewrite the Open Door Policy?

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Scott Ginsberg
Author/Speaker/That guy with the nametag


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Author. Speaker. Strategist. Songwriter. Filmmaker. Inventor. Gameshow Host. World Record Holder. I also wear a nametag 24-7. Even to bed.
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