Almost 20 years ago Aaron Shenhar wrote in the Leadership & Organization Development Journal that “an open door is very often only a myth,” that telling employees “the door is open . . . is not enough.” Shenhar continued:
“Why is it that so many managers are convinced that their door is open, while it is actually closed, or at least perceived to be closed by their subordinates? . . . Even honest statements made by management, that their doors are open to employees, do not seem to be able to break the barriers. . . Only a genuine, open-door policy that functions frankly and regularly can create among employees the feeling that someone is listening and cares, and only then will it be possible to crack these invisible walls.”
Marissa Mayer’s open door when she was a Google VP is an example of a successful policy. Gallo mentioned Mayer in his Forbes article but provided more detail in his 2006 BusinessWeek piece. Mayer held office hours daily from 4:00-5:30 p.m. Employees could sign up on a board outside her office. First come – first served. She sometimes had as many as 15 meetings during these office hours.
Mayer's daily open door time represents a strong commitment. But I do like the idea of a time on the schedule for the open door. Even if just once or twice a week. Open doors can greatly benefit leaders willing to truly listen, leaders who respect others.