Just Open Door? – A Lot More is Needed

toxic work cultures just open doorI want to write on how an Open Door Policy can kill your company in China or anywhere. Very few people in the West take advantage of the open door policy. but be sure even fewer in China. Chinese people are taught from childhood to keep their heads down. Just open door? You need a lot more.

Having an open door policy can give you the appearance of doing right by the workers while actually just making them feel you are out of reach.  So I never say I have an open door policy.

I actively reach out to my direct reports regularly. I often open the discussion by asking, “What’s on your mind?” or “What concerns or burdens do you have?”

I take the discussion slow and allow silence if needed. Goal is to give as much safety and time so they can dig up something that needs to be said. Younger people need more time as are usually more timid. Experienced managers may jump right in if they feel safe enough.

Just Open Door is Far From Enough

It is a funny thing. You cannot make a manager talk. However, you need him to talk. He knows things right or wrong that you need to hear. See also Transparency is the New Normal.

Furthermore, I also ask them about their family. I do not do this to be nosy. I do this to care actively. Workers need to have this door open so they feel they are more than a cog in the machine.  It is our active concern that creates engagement, trust, and connection that makes managers and other workers go.  I have heard people say we need to take them out to lunch. That is not wrong and may help in some cases, but I personally find a private office is the best setting. We all work together in one space with no cubicles and have meeting offices on the sides that anyone can use. I use them often. I cannot have an open door as we work in one space together. Private offices do not make sense to me. Do the leaders you hired in China have this attitude?

Just open door?  Employees need more. They need a lot more.


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Posted in: China Recruitment - Getting Good People, Leadership, Motivating Workers

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