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Opening Up Your Open Door

By Peter Jeff
The Leadership Mints Guy

Here’s an idea to broaden your strategic thinking. Reading time: 4:32

     It seems absurd. A waste of time. An undermining of your authority as the CEO, the Chief Executive Officer.

     Door of Opportunity   Why block out an hour a week to meet privately –face-to-face–with ANYONE in your company? For up to 7 minutes. On any issue. At their request.

        How can those open-ended, shot in-the-dark meetings with any employee — not your direct reports – be worthwhile?

        Consider positioning these meetings as 7- minute Creative Business Building Discussions with you. Topics could  range from new product ideas to new market initiatives and yes even to highly emotional personnel issues affecting the selection, grooming and growing of future leaders.

      Sure you’d be opening your Open Door Policy so wide the complainers and disgruntled will likely game the system at first.

      But the most effective leaders know that in opening themselves up so widely they also open the company up to new ideas that could generate new revenue streams for you to initially navigate.

        7- Minute Creative DiscussionsPrint

      As CEO you will evaluate those ideas and advise the employee on any follow-up meetings where those new ideas, new profit sources could be blessed and budgeted; sanctioned and staffed; realized and rewarded while the employee would have been recognized and validated by the CEO. A huge win-win.

     But if you as the CEO are ensconced in back-to-back, closed-door, planned meetings most days, you can easily be isolated and insulated from those opportunistic initiatives.

     That isolation and insulation could be costly. Time is money. A more timely response to an employee’s idea or concern may mean millions of dollars.

     Indeed TIME is critical in helping your 7-minute Creative Discussion Meetings take root, branch out beyond The Complainers and grow with The Creators in your company. Time that is both treasured and measured as an investment and Time that is positioned and promoted as an on-going, integrated business tool in the operations of the company.

    Marking Your Time

     To protect and promote that investment in time, consider placing an electronic timer visible to both the visitor and the leader. The electronic timer (even the stopwatch on a cell phone will work) would reinforce the significance of the opportunity: a maximum of 7 minutes with the key decision maker in the company.

      Managing Your Time

    And to preserve and promote the 7-minute meeting concept especially during the first few weeks when few employees –if any– schedule themselves for a Creative Business Building Discussion with you during the designated hour, resist the urge to fill that hour with other business-as-usual meetings.

      open door   Instead send the word to your direct reports to give you the gift of time for those 60 minutes. No meetings. No phone calls. No-emails. No texting.

        And advertise to others your availability for “walk ins” (who of course have to be scheduled by the administrative assistant to the CEO).

       Use that hour to think, to write, to read. Alone. With your door open.

        Sure, you will be tempted to close your door and get some real work done. No doubt, you will be frustrated in the beginning of the Opening of your Open Door Policy hosting meetings with mostly disgruntled employees.

       When you’re feeling like that, sit back and take a breath and look at the bigger picture.  Remind yourself of why you started this widening of the open door.

        Remind yourself –and the disgruntled employees– of the opportunities you are waiting to hear about to help OUR company gain even more breathing room in this competitive business climate.

Be  Available not just Accessible

      Keep your door open. The Complainers will eventually give way to The Creators especially when the employee grape vine starts growing.

      Keep your door open especially when no one is visiting with you. After all the most effective leaders know they must be more than just accessible. They must be perceived AVAILABLE with a priority to the vast majority of employees who do NOT report directly to the CEO

     Keep your door open. Use that hour productively creating a more collaborative climate.  Write a congratulatory note in your personal penmanship to an employee. Or read a non-business related magazine to stir the creative juices.

    At any rate, keep your door open –wider than ever before. Give yourself and your employees a Time Out to think things out.

    Seven minutes at a time.

Today’s ImproveMINT

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