June 18, 2009

Is ‘shut door’ the new 'open door' policy?

Having a shut door policy means your staff have limited access to you. How could this be a good thing after all the talk of how ‘open door’ is the way to go? The answer is to make it work you have to give staff more authority. This means you can afford to have that door closed. Giving staff more authority can be hugely transformational and positive for a business. At the Ritz Carlton (one of the world’s most amazing hotel chains) each staff member has authority to spend $2000 without any form of manager approval to fix a problem for a customer. This policy has allowed the hotel chain to become world renowned as the place to stay – they have millions and millions of fans. In any other business such decisions would often have to go through many levels of managerial approval – taking longer and being a pain.

Some businesses fear giving staff too much (or any) authority. They don’t see just how much that fear is holding them back. An over the top approach of requiring manager’s approval can make exceptional customer service difficult, frustrate your staff and take up your time (the book “The one minute manager meets the monkey” is great for freeing up managers time).

*What fears are holding you back from giving staff more authority?
*How can you address these fears?
*In what areas could you let staff have more authority?
*What effect will that have on you, your team, customers and service?

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