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your door is literally open every minute of the day. You want to be available to your team, but not at a moment’s notice. You’ll never get anything done, and you’ll be doing your team a disservice. Instead, be available when your schedule is available. What I’ve found most effective is to block off time on my calendar so my team knows what I’m working on, and then I designate time when I am fully available for them. It’s similar to what college professors do. Remember when you had a question after class or wanted to talk about your research paper? You’d go visit them during office hours. It worked well for both parties: The professor was able to focus on grading and teaching and could devote their attention to students during office hours. Scheduling time when your team can come talk to you conveys that you care enough to be available for them. I also don’t typically take phone calls that aren’t scheduled because I wouldn’t be focused on my client. In whatever you do, be present. Close your door, work on a designated project for a set amount of time, and then be available for your team and your clients. This applies to work and home. Your family doesn’t appreciate you half- heartedly engaging in conversation while you’re responding to work emails. They’d rather you get your work done and then come hang out with them when they can have your full attention. Whatever you’re doing, be all in. I’m by no means perfect at this; I just know the difference. When we’re sitting on the couch trying to watch a family movie and I’ve got my laptop out, my kids can tell I’m not paying attention to the action sequence in the movie. It’s pretty obvious when I react 30 seconds late to the epic fight scene. This is something I have to work on. Right now, I’m in the process of converting my house so I have designated work space. In the past, I worked all over the house, which made it hard to concentrate because there would always be something going on. Now I’m creating a place where I can focus to get stuff done and then come out and leave my work there.
WHATEVER YOU DO BE ALL IN
I’m sure you can remember having this experience when you were a kid: You asked your parents a question, but they were engaged in reading the newspaper or watching tv. They gave you an answer, but it probably didn’t make a whole lot of sense. You might have even gotten a “Mmhmm, sure honey.” Sometimes, if you timed it just right, you could get them to say "yes" to something they wouldn’t agree to under any other circumstances. But mostly, their lack of attention was frustrating. I have this mental image of me at seven or eight years old placing my hands on both sides of my mom’s or dad’s face to get them to pay attention to me. I only did it when I had a really important request that could not wait. “Can I have some ice cream, please?” I would repeat, ever so patiently. When you interrupt someone in the middle of a task, you’re never going to get their full attention. It happens with kids and parents, and it happens all the time with employers and employees. I can think of several instances in the past when I went to a manager to ask a question and got a vague answer. We like to think we’re capable multitaskers, but in reality, we stink at it.
How do you create an open-door policy without sacrificing productivity? I’d love to hear your suggestions.
As I write this article, my door is closed so I can focus. Like I mentioned last month, an open-door policy doesn’t mean
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