Last week I was lucky enough to attend a fundraising event that featured Jim Treliving as the keynote speaker. Jim is the founder of Boston Pizza and one of the original Dragons on the business pitch show Dragon’s Den.
One of the pearls of business wisdom he shared was that he doesn’t have a door on his office and neither does his business partner. Not just an open door, but no door.
In a recent interview, he explained that no door ensures the openness between them. At the event last week, he expanded on that to say that when he started his career as a Mountie, a closed door meeting was almost always bad – it meant you were being fired or being transferred – and I am sure everyone in the station knew it.
He did go on to say that there is an office with doors they do use when needed. Despite his intentions to create an atmosphere unlike what he experienced with the RCMP, I would bet that his whole office knows what happens when a door closes. In an office with no doors, making a point to meet in a special room behind a closed door will be seen as an extreme circumstance, and it will ripple through the building in a negative way. Conclusions will be drawn, narratives will be formed, work will not get done.
A better approach might be to make a closed door meeting so common place, that your team neither fears it or gossips about it.
The best way to do that is regularly meet with team members, either individually or in teams, behind a closed door. Have weekly manager meetings behind a closed door. Invite key clients in for presentations and close the door. Remove the stigma that closed is bad (click here to read a previous post on this topic)
There is legitimate, important, future of the company kind of work that needs to be done in privacy and some of the most important work that a manager does will happen with the door closed, as they provide counsel, protection and guidance for their team members.
Every person who has needed a place of refuge and a person they can trust can only get it behind a closed door.