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Aaron N. Tubbs

Dragon chaser.

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I was thinking the other day about how the whole open door policy. Here’s a definition from answers.com:

1. Management policy of encouraging a relaxed environment with employees by leaving the manager’s door open to encourage informal employee interaction.

I reflected on management that I’ve seen at current and previous jobs, and came to a couple of conclusions that seems contradictory to this stated goal. First off, I’ve noticed that the people to whom I am most comfortable approaching often have their door closed. It doesn’t come to me as a signal of “bug off” but as a signal of “I’m trying to get work done, and I want some quiet.” I knock, interrupt, bug the person, and try to get out of their hair.

On the other hand, I’ve known managers that always have their door open, but I have been struck with sheer terror at actually approaching their offices. There was one great example of this at the bank in particular, where one of the guys with an “open door policy” had such a reputation that I’d seldom approach his office without my director standing next to me.

What this leads me to is the following theory: Open door policies have a lot more to do with how a manager interacts with people than with whether or not they decide to leave their door open or closed.

Now that I have an office, I notice that it has a tendency to amplify some of the noises going on outside the office, and I find it pleasant when it’s noisy outside to shut the door so I can focus. A coworker suggested that there needs to be a little toggle like one makes for dishwashers. Instead of “CLEAN” and “DIRTY” it would say “BUZZ OFF” or “COME ON IN” with the intended message being that a door may be closed in order to enjoy the quiet, not because one is unapproachable.

Anyhow, I’m wondering if my experience is unique, or if the physical open door policy has nothing to do with the comfort in the real world.