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July 28, 2014 at 1:00 AM

Managers: Why you should have an open-door policy

You’re a new manager. Congratulations! Now you seem to be getting advice from just about everyone, and one recommendation has intrigued you — that you should have an “open door” policy. You’ve heard of that term, but you’re wondering how it could be helpful and whether it’s necessary.

Here are four benefits of an open-door policy:

1. Accessibility. Managers who demonstrate high levels of accessibility are more apt to have employees who feel comfortable stopping by for a quick chat to bring things to their attention. This gives open-door managers a better pulse on what’s happening in their department and the company on a daily basis.

2. Open flow of communication. Those with open-door policies have easier access to more informal discussions — and these are the discussions that often lead to important insights about the business. Managers who shut their office doors a lot may quickly find that they are not in the loop, because a closed door can send the unintentional message that he or she is uninterested and disengaged in daily activities.

3. Fast access to information. Open-door policies encourage employees to come by and speak up when issues or important situations arise or when they have ideas. In fast-paced industries, quick access to information is key. Managers who close their doors often eventually cut themselves off from breaking situations or information. That’s because employees stopping by without an appointment will see the closed door and not want to interrupt, even when something is urgent.

4. Closer working relationships. An open-door policy promotes a culture of friendliness and shows that the manager truly wants to be actively engaged, to be involved in daily activities and to build closer relationships with employees.

When a manager’s door is often closed, it can create a barrier between the manager and his or her subordinates over time. This can create a formal, secretive environment where employees are afraid to speak freely.

There are times that managers, even those with an open-door policy, must shut their door (for example, during confidential discussions). That’s to be expected. However, to demonstrate accessibility, encourage an open flow of communication and gain fast access to important information, managers should keep their office doors open as much as possible.

Lisa Quast is the founder of Career Woman, Inc., and the author of the book Secrets of a Hiring Manager Turned Career Coach. Email her at lquast@careerwomaninc.com.

More in Work Life Blog | Topics: communication, etiquette, management, relationships

Blog contributors

Randy Woods Writes about job-search tools, networking techniques and other tips to help you land your dream job.

Lisa Quast is a certified career coach, mentor, business consultant, former corporate executive and author based in the Seattle area.

Karen Burns is the author of The Amazing Adventures of Working Girl, a career guide based on her 59 jobs over 40 years in 22 cities.

Former contributors

Kristen Fife is a senior recruiter, career mentor, blogger and resume consultant.

Michelle Goodman is the author of "My So-Called Freelance Life" and "The Anti 9-to-5 Guide."

Matt Youngquist is the president of Career Horizons, a career counseling firm.

Natalie Singer is a Seattle writer, editor and small-business owner.

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