Many organizations like to talk about how laidback and open they are. Why the head of the organization has an open door policy! Feel free to pop in anytime!

Except- hardly any of these organizations ever actually work this way. Going into the boss’ office is a good way to find yourself at HR collecting your final check. Management says they want openness, but try providing feedback that isn’t positive and you’ll quickly find yourself labeled a problem.

How can you tell if the organization isn’t practicing what it preaches without getting into trouble? Take a look at your e-mail inbox. Did a request from upper management get forwarded to multiple places before getting sent to you? Do you only see the organization’s leader at big, important meetings? You can safely assume that the open door is really just a trap.

Is the lack of an open door workplace a problem? Not really. That sort of structure might not be a good fit for every organization. The big problem with saying there’s an open door policy but not really having one is that employees can see that management is not being genuine. Often the first thing employees hear on day one is how open and collegial things are within the company. If the first thing they hear is easily proven to be untrue, distrust of the organization starts early on. Most of the time it probably won’t matter, but it’s just as easy to be honest, so why start things off on the wrong foot?

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