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Open door policy with employees

Talking to clearly communicate your intentions is not just a workplace practice, it’s a real job. How you deliver your message implies the response you are seeking from your recipient. Your attitude behind the words can tell someone that you’re looking to blame, when you’re really just frustrated and looking for help. Each exchange has its own level of intensity, so each one risks potential loss or gain in efforts to truly achieve the goals targeted for the encounter. How the words are delivered and their reception by the other will make the difference. If you regard “communicating” as anything less than a real job, you’ve set yourself up for a mental rollercoaster with everyone you share your day with.

You’ll be further ahead if you can grasp the concept of “job” and remember that not many jobs are easy… that’s why they’re branded “job.” Striving to succeed, we can never disregard changes we’ll need to employ. Customer demands and industry regulations force practices to be constantly refined. For most employees, though, change is difficult. They entered the job through a list of expectations that were acceptable to them at the time. As changes are enforced, our expectations for their job description and performance often change, too. While some employees may accept this, it’s not always the case.

Their comfort zone has been disturbed and that, to them, doesn’t always say, “Good job, but I want you to change.” Often, they’re hearing, “I want you to change” and missed the “good job” part. We must somehow be able to transfer information that will satisfy a clear explanation to them that includes actually saying the words, “Good job.” It gives two opportunities to settle their disrupted comfort zone. Employees are more motivated to participate in change when they truly feel they’re making a positive contribution based as much on “whom” they are as “what” they do. The “who” substantiates a position in your employ but the “what” substantiates only the job, something they were looking for when they came to work for you.

We’re all capable of “thinking” a problem into existence and employees are no different. When we fail to communicate correctly in “approach, words and attitude,” they see a problem. They can dwell on a situation negatively in their mind until, at last, it’s true and suddenly they’re justified in what they’ve been thinking all along! Anger in our employees is not always our fault, but, nonetheless, the frustration they can feel from their perception alone can exist. For the sake of success, it’s imperative that we open up those lines of communication.

We must remember, too, that we’re not the only ones with problems. With today’s staggering economy, personal debt is higher than ever. The pressure is on at home and at work, so employees get angry more often and stay that way longer. People want to place blame for their problems.

Good communication with your employees can offer them understanding and support and actually aid in minimizing their dilemmas. It can create a happier employee and, therefore, one who is more productive (happier plus more productive usually equals longer employment with you, too).

So, how do you widen the door of your “open-door policy”? There are four key requirements. First, talk to your coworkers about the problems in the business that includes their position. Second, open the conversation by announcing that you’ll be looking for their input (advanced invitations for them to participate will quickly capture their attention and motivate them do just that). Third, enter the conversation open-minded, anxious to have them share their ideas for solutions.

Fourth, have patience when listening. Give a strong ear to their comments and feedback, because very often the solution is closer than you know. Employees who feel they are being heard will produce more and be happier to do so. So, widen that open door.


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