It is excellent to have go getters on the team. The corporate climber can boldly ask for more face time with your boss to make sure he or she knows that they are really helping you move the ball forward to get the job done. Often, this type of request for visibility will come in the form of requesting a conversation to brainstorm or to hear more about the executive’s views on longer term goals or strategies.
Rights of Employees: Aggressive Employee Wants More Visibility With Your Boss
You may feel intimidated by this and wonder if the request for a meeting up the chain might reflect poorly on you. Perhaps you are wondering if the employee will bring up a business problem that you should have a better handle on and you won’t be there for damage control etc. If you are tempted to tell your team member to just share their thoughts and ideas with you and you’ll take them up the line, be careful. A word of caution regarding the rights of employees … Don’t deter the employee from talking with your boss!
Rights of Employees Include An Open Door Policy
Whether it is written or not, the open door policy is present in almost all companies (all of the good ones.) This is a sacrosanct policy that says whoa to the manager who tries to stop an employee from talking to their boss. There are several reasons as to why you do not want to get in the way of this policy and OlyLife highlights them below:
The open door policy is seen as an important way for executives to be sure that the truth is not suppressed in the organization – real problems need to have a path to the top if there is a manager or executive in the chain of command who is not being forthright.
Forward looking organizations want employees to feel like they can be heard and they are not too low in the chain to have a meeting with the boss’s boss.
Managers who try to stop employees from talking to their boss are risking their job – period. A manager must respect the fact that the open door policy exists and employees are free to talk to the boss or human resources.
The bosses who are good will listen to the employee who exercises the open door and thank them for their input, suggestions, questions, concerns or whatever matter comes up and they will ask if he or she discussed them with their direct manager. If not, they will encourage them to do so thereby putting the signal out that they can come and talk anytime, but they should first and foremost talk to the direct manager. (This usually puts the chain of command back in place.) If the ideas are intriguing they may even spark an initiative on the matter or if there are serious issues raised the boss may intervene by calling a meeting.
Most good bosses will pick up the phone and call the manager and tell him or her about the open door conversation and will often leave the decisions for action up to the manager. If there is a serious problem with your employee such as a grievance they may call you in for a meeting to discuss. Unless you’ve really messed up, your boss will have your back most of the time.
Leading Without Excessive Open Doors Being Called For
If your direct reports want to go and talk to your boss all of the time, your boss may begin to wonder why he or she has you in the manager role. The way to lead your team without folks using the open door all of the time is to be an excellent listener to your team. This way they will not feel that their ideas are not being heard. When a team member comes up with a good idea, implement it and make sure your boss and the team know that it was this team member’s idea. Never try to take credit for it from your boss… it will backfire on you, and it is wrong.
Listen To Your Employees
You will look like (and actually be) a better leader if you are seen as a person who listens to associates and implements their excellent ideas. That’s a big part of leadership, after all, it may be that the golden nuggets of ideas will come from those who are closest to the voice of the customer – the folks that are on the front lines. Never lead thinking that you have all of the answers or even the better ideas.
A great leader listens to employees, industry news, customers, competitors, executives, vendors and others to constantly search for better ways for achieving the mission. So, don’t fear the open door, respect the rights of employees, and do your best to be a listening leader, in this way, folks won’t feel compelled to use the door so much and you will be making the most of your one and only life – That’s OlyLife!
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