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Open Door Policy? Open Mind Policy?

Aug 17, 2007
I was giving a presentation on " the Value of Recognition" to the office workers of a large Canadian City. The City Commissioner ended his welcome to those present with these words, " I have an open door policy so I want to encourage you to come and talk to me when you have a concern." When he left I heard a couple of people in the front row say with a hint of sarcasm,
" Yeah sure. He has an open door policy as long as what you have to say is flattering and doesn't rock the boat."

We all have known leaders like this and we all have had similar reactions to them. It is quite apparent that many managers and supervisors don't listen well and are easily threatened when a challenge or criticism is made by someone over whom they have authority.

I recall having a supervisor ask me to schedule an appointment to see him. He wanted to tap my brain. I should have been suspicious right from the start because in over 20 years he had never once asked my opinion on anything. In spite of this I prepared thoroughly and was eager to finally have the chance to share my wisdom and experience. Maybe he was turning over a new leaf.

When the interview began the supervisor fell asleep within minutes. Is that all the time it took to "Tap my mind?" Since I pride myself on being a rather dynamic and energetic speaker I was really taken aback by this. What a blow!! It was a relief to find out later that he suffered from sleeping sickness and had a difficult time staying awake at the best of times. I dismissed myself from the meeting saying that perhaps I could return when he was feeling better. ( I won't tell you what I really wanted to say.)

Along with proclaiming to have an open door policy I think we would all benefit from people in leadership positions declaring that they had an open mind policy as well. Managers with an open mind listen attentively to the thoughts, ideas and opinions of others without becoming upset or threatened when a contrary or critical position or opinion is presented.

No one person, no matter what their position or level of expertise, has a monopoly on wisdom, insight or correct thinking. Wisdom resides in the collective and not in any one individual. The following story illustrates what I mean by this.

It seems that a rather prestigious country club was having a problem with disappearing bottles of shampoo in the mens' shower room. No matter what the management did the bottles kept disappearing. Signs were posted and meetings were held encouraging the members to leave the shampoo bottles where they found them. Nothing worked.

One day the manager of the club was inspecting the shower room while a custodian was mopping the floor. When the manager saw that another shampoo bottle had disappeared he expressed his anger and frustration to the custodian, " We've tried everything.

Nothing works. What more can we do?" The custodian stopped mopping, looked up at the manager and said, " Why don't you take the top off each new bottle of shampoo and throw it away? Nobody will take a shampoo bottle without a top." When the manager asked him why he hadn't offered this great solution before, the caretaker replied, " Nobody ever asks my opinion. Nobody gets my opinion."

This is the sad reality in far too many businesses and organizations. If you want a happy, healthy and more productive workplace access the wisdom and experience of the group. Cultivate a genuine "Open Door Policy" and combine it with a genuine " Open Mind Policy" and watch great things start to happen in your workplace. By the way it works effectively in your family as well..

" Boat rockers should be considered cherished resources not pains in the neck." M. Moore
About the Author
Mike Moore is an international speaker on the role of humor in human relations. Mike's articles and cartoons have appeared in publications throughout the world. For more on what Mike can do for your organization visit
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