Close Your Door on Your Open Door Policy

We have an open door policy! I’ve heard that term since my very first day at my first “real job”. For years, I too bought into this policy. I used to believe that an open door policy was the best way to run a business.

Well, today I am making an announcement:

It’s time to close your door on your open door policy.

Do not disturb sign on door open door policy

Yes, it’s time. 

Are you puzzled? Outraged? Can’t understand why you wouldn’t want to be available for your team?

Let me be clear: I’m not changing my belief that you should be available for your team, office mates, employees, and manager. You should strive to be accessible for them if they need you, but I also believe that we need to honor our associates’ time—and they need to honor yours.

I work with and coach hundreds of professionals every year, and time management is (by far!) the biggest issue I see. They often can’t productively manage their day because they allow others to constantly interrupt them with emails, phone calls, or a quick “stopping in” to discuss a project, or even worse—just to chat! What I see time and time again from your open door policy is that you are giving people the right to stop in and interrupt whatever you’re doing. I also see that it gives team members the ability to drop off paperwork when you’re clearly on the phone, breaking your train of thought. Finally (this one irks me the most), you can’t have an un-interrupted golden hour to prospect!

Here are my “close your door” Sales Power Tips:

  • Create an “open” hour (or hours) when people are able to stop in freely.
  • Get rid of the extra chairs in your office. Seriously! When people can’t sit down, they won’t stay for long.
  • Create a sign that reads: “Golden Hour in Progress” or “Prospecting in Progress!” One of my clients purchased a radio “On Air” sign that he turned on outside his office when he didn’t want to be interrupted. I love that one! Tell your team what the sign means, and they’ll honor your golden hour. A focused, busy salesperson (or manager) creates focused, busy co-workers – it’s contagious!
  • When someone stops in outside of your “open” hours, interrupt him or her and tell them you’re in the middle of something.  Now that you’ve got their attention open your calendar, give them some options that work with your schedule (even if it’s 15 minutes from now), and set up a quick meeting.
  • When your office buddy stops by to chat, keep working (don’t even look up!). If you don’t stop, they’ll get the hint and keep moving. You’re not being rude—you simply don’t have the time to chat.  Don’t be afraid to tell them that.
Listen, I understand how free and fun it can be to work in an open office. I really do. I also know what it’s like to have Chatty Cathy stop to talk for 10 minutes 10 times a day. So take back control of your day (remember, Chatty Cathy is likely on a salary and doesn’t pay your bills)!

Be Open and Respectful of your Time

One of my coaching clients (the one who bought the “On Air” sign) made all of these changes in his office. He showed his manager how they could still have an open door policy, but he could get back control of his day.

I’ll never forget what he said after he started seeing the benefits of the changes:

Dew, I have more prospects in my pipeline then I have in my entire career. My account managers know when they can talk with me and our daily meeting is productive. I no longer have drop-ins, unless it’s truly a fire (which we have clearly defined now), and I finally feel like I’m back in control of my day. I love it!

That could be you. Honor your time, honor your day, and most importantly, honor your golden hour. It’s time, people!

Until next time—go sell some stuff!


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