04 July 2014

The Open Door Policy: On Base and in the Workplace


All commanders are required to have an open door policy.  The commanders determine the timing, conduct, and specific procedures of the policy, and this where service members may differ on what’s best.  It’s important for commanders and all those surrounding to support a service member’s need to raise important issues or concerns.

The second chapter of Army Regulation 600-20 isolates the nature of the open door policy: “Soldiers are responsible to ensure that the commander is made aware of problems that affect discipline, morale, and mission effectiveness; and an open door policy allows members of the command to present facts, concerns, and problems of a personal or professional nature or other issues that the Soldier has been unable to resolve.”

The policy is a valuable tool to improve team cohesiveness in general.  Obviously, lower-ranking soldiers should respect the chain of command and see senior NCOs before bothering the commander with trivial complaints, concerns, or requests but the unit should feel comfortable approaching the commander for more pressing issues.  This comfort comes through commanders’ initiative, asking subordinates questions, listening, and making themselves available.

A hands-on leadership style transcends military procedure.  This is the type of skill that can be refined in the military and brought out in the workplace following the eventual transition to civilian work.  Commanders or managers should make themselves available to their subordinates while lower-ranking service members and employees should feel confident in speaking with their superior.

Whether this leadership is in the military or in the workplace, a receptive and engaged commander is good for the whole team.  How would you set the stage for the open door policy?  Have you ever had to help another share his or her concerns through this policy?

Weigh in on the discussion here and connect within the military network.

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