Open Door Policy or just Snitching?

Question:

I work in an inside sales office and was promoted to a Senior Director position with no supervisory responsibilities. We have an open door policy to share concerns etc. I am also a part of our Q/A team. Recently, I shared with my boss that one of our fellow Directors was making excessive personal calls. The individual is giving me the cold shoulder now and moving her cubicle location. Why do I feel so bad for using the open door policy and intending to do good to help the person not get in trouble but instead improve performance? I’m concerned for the person and did not want to address it rather share the concern with my boss.

Signed,

Given Cold Shoulder


Answer:

DearĀ Given Cold Shoulder:

What’s done is done. How might it have been done differently? Would there have been a way to not cause hurt feelings and alienation? Possibly not, but possibly yes. The basic rule for dealing with such a situation is to ask yourself: how would you like to have a co-worker handle a problem such as this? Would you feel good about a c-worker who reported to the boss that you were making too many personal calls? Or would you prefer that that co-worker come to you first to discuss the matter and forewarn you that too many personal calls might land you in trouble? If your answer is “to come to you first”, possibly what is done might be partially undone; by a frank acknowledgement of how sad you are that your actions have caused a cold shoulder accompanied by an apology and possibly some token of reconciliation; such as a CD of music this person’s choice, a clipping of interest, an invitation to lunch, etc. Working out the unstated rules of dealing with complaints about one another almost never is hammered out until one or the other makes a mistake; such as you reporting to the boss on your co-worker’s many personal calls.

Open door policy does not mean that one goes to the boss about every annoying practice. Rather it means that one does not cover up one’s own shortcomings and can ask for advice on matters important to continuous quality improvement. Open door to the boss really is not much needed if the boss schedules regular team meetings and engages all in conversations about what we are accomplishing well, what needs adjustment, how we might make each other’s jobs more effective and easier, ideas on cutting wasted supplies, time, energy, what rules of communication are needed in our work group, how might we make our work more meaningful, and are we having fun? Do these thoughts make sense to you? If not, hopefully they will inspire you to find a creative way to handle what now is an unhappy relationship. Saving face is important to one’s own and co-workers’ egos and good standing. Now is it worth doing what you can to be seen as a cheerleader within your work group? Don’t obsess with this one incident if you cannot reconcile after giving it genuine try. Don’t gossip about cold shoulders and open doors that landed you feeling blue.

Will you be forthright enough to let us know what you elect to do or not do and how that works or fails? Working together with hands, heads, and hearts takes and makes big WEGOS.

William Gorden