Is an “Open-Door Policy” Really That Open?

April 20, 2010 at 9:37 pm 4 comments

Featured Guest Blogger: Anthony Fasano, P.E., CPC, LEED AP
Maser Consulting
Associate Civil Engineer and Professional Career & Leadership Development Coach
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Hello all.  Today I thought I would write a post in response to two questions I received from one of the members of my LinkedIn Group Civil Engineering Career Development group.  I would ask that you please leave your feedback below this article so that this individual will get information from various sources on this topic.  Thanks!

1. What is the best way to go for “Leadership Certification”?

This is a question that I have been asked several times through my blogging efforts and unfortunately I don’t really have a great answer.  I know that there are many coaching and training programs out there that will help you develop your leadership skills but I don’t know of a specific leadership certification.  I have heard excellent things from engineers about the Dale Carnegie Training course; however I have not done it myself, although I certainly plan to do so.

Do you know of a leadership certification out there or can you recommend a specific leadership training course like the Dale Carnegie Training course?

2.  In your opinion, when a company has an “open-door policy” what does that mean?

According to an open-door policy guarantees that employees can go above their boss to seek assistance from the boss’s supervisor. An open door policy provides employee access to any manager or supervisor including the CEO. This is pretty much how I would have defined an open-door policy, however whether or not companies with these policies enforce them is a whole other story.

Personally, I would guess that 9 out of 10 companies that say they have an open-door policy do not practice it regularly, or should I say the employees don’t practice it regularly.  Unfortunately today, because of the way many supervisors manage, and of course because of the economy, people are just scared to speak their mind.  They are afraid 1) to lose their job and 2) that speaking out will stunt their career advancement.  In my opinion there is a lack of trust between co-workers in most companies throughout corporate America and this lack of trust prompts people to either say nothing or partake in negative workplace gossip which is not the same as an open-door policy.

I believe that special leaders will rise to the top regardless of whether or not a company has an open-door policy.  If there is an issue or a challenge, they will address it with the proper person in an effort to resolve it as quickly as possible.  These kinds of leaders do not fear conflict, in fact their high energy approach typically doesn’t attract conflict and they are able to resolve challenges quickly, maximizing results!

Please consider the following questions in leaving feedback on this post:

Do you or have you worked at a company with an open-door-policy and if so was it really utilized as it is defined?

Did you ever utilize this policy, and if so were the results beneficial to you and your career or would you have been better off staying quiet?


Entry filed under: Career Development. Tags: , .

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4 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Anthony Fasano  |  April 25, 2010 at 8:55 pm

    I agree William, you must be extremely careful when going over your supervisor’s head, although I have seen situations where it was a must, but you still must be careful…..thanks!

  • 2. William  |  April 25, 2010 at 2:42 pm

    In regards to an open-door policy, you need to be careful in regards to what you use this policy for. While the policy may exist, you need to realize that your manager will still have control over you. If possible, you should try to go to them first. The last thing you would want is to skip right to a higher authority figure and have your imediate managerfeel like you are just trying to go around them. If they have this thought in their head, it will just harm the working relationship and they may try to get you replaced, or give you no role in the companies larger projets,

  • 3. Anthony Fasano  |  April 22, 2010 at 8:38 pm

    Good feedback David, thanks a lot! And I do also believe that you should consider your beliefs and values when choosing a program….

  • 4. David Hyder  |  April 22, 2010 at 7:57 am

    There are any number of leadership programs out there. Be careful which you select. Many focus on technique at the expense of character. The most important thing that a leader can have is the trust of his followers. Without trust all else is dross.

    Nor should you confuse leadership and management. They are related but different. Having said that a leader should focus on certain skills and abilities:
    -establishing vision,
    -effective communications,
    -technical competence,
    -positive ethical behavior (everyone has ethic not all are good)

    Having noted these skills I would recommend (based on my participateion) both Stephen Covey’s Seven Habits of HIghly Effective People and Toastmasters International’s Communications and Leadership program. I also recommend participating in a good religious based program on ethics and morals.

    Furthermore I suggest that a core reading program for leaders includes books by Peter Drucker, Ken Blanchard, Nicola Machiavelli (as a negative example), the biographies of prominent historic leaders. As well as the wisdom literature of your faith tradition.


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