Consider closing open-door policy

“Work is taking over my life,” Daniel said as we began our coaching session. “I know it is part of business ownership, but I don’t like it. I love what I do; I just want to do less of it.”

“When did you start feeling this way?” I asked.

“I’m not sure,” Daniel said. “It’s like being in a pot of water and slowly turning up the heat. It gets warmer, but you don’t notice until it’s boiling. The water is definitely boiling.”

“How do you spend your time?” I asked.

“Half of my time is spent at job sites and the other half is in the office,” Daniel began. “Every so often I like to wear my tool belt, but I also know it’s important to be a leader and manage my company.

“What does it mean to manage your company?”  I said.

“Managing is both administrative and being with my employees,” he said. “My open-door policy lets people know I’m always available. I know they appreciate it because I always have someone in my office.”

“If you always have people in your office, when do you get your administrative work done?” I asked.

“Before and after work,” Daniel replied. “It’s the only time I get those things done.”

“How many hours a week are you at work?” I asked.

“I’m there the six days we are open to the public, plus two to three hours more each day.”

“From what you have described, there are a lot of benefits of your open-door policy,” I said. “It sounds like your employees know you are available and they feel valued. What are some of the costs of this policy?”

“It’s important to have this policy, but it also makes it so I can’t get anything done during normal business hours,” Daniel said. “Some of my work requires concentrated time and I am constantly interrupted. That’s probably why my time at work has increased. We have 20 more employees than last year, which means more people for me to interact with.”

“Let’s brainstorm,” I suggested. “How could you find concentrated time during work hours?”

“I could work from home,” Daniel said, “as long as I build it into my schedule and let my staff know.”

“What else might help?” I said.

“I like the open-door policy, but would also like to be able to close my door to get my work done,” Daniel said. “I’m not sure what my employees would think, but many of them give me a hard time for working so much.  If I explain to them that this would help us as a team and me as their leader, I think they would support it. It’s worth a try.”

We created a schedule that included time to work at home, and open- and closed-door times. Daniel then outlined how he would announce these changes to his staff.

As he walked out he said, “This seemed like such a big problem until I started unraveling it. I’m excited to see if these changes will work. I’d love to be more effective while I’m at work and not be there as much.”

Coaching Challenge:  When you are overwhelmed or frustrated, first determine what may be causing these feelings. Break it down into smaller pieces and then work with a friend to brainstorm potential solutions. Create a plan to implement these steps and see if it eases your frustrations.

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Sheri Fisher is a life coach in Grand Junction. The situations and characters in her column have been altered in order to maintain client confidentiality. Go to for more information.


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