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It’s OK to Close the Door

By Emilie Shoop (981 words)
Posted in Management on June 17, 2015

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With all the push for open communication, and an inviting environment in the workplace, there is a lot of pressure for the first time leader to always be available.  I want to let you in on a secret that is not shared very often nowadays…It’s OK to close the door.  There is a lot of work for you to get done in the leadership role, even though you are managing those who are doing the work.


Some of my clients get themselves so overwhelmed and overworked because they never get the work that has to get done during their normal work day.  They come in early, work over lunch, and often are logging in nights and weekends.  The goal is not to work 24/7.  It is unhealthy and unproductive.


It is imperative that you find ways to meet the demands from your clients, management, peers, and team without burning out.  What I have found works really well is actually closing your door.  It is a signal to yourself and those who need to talk to you that you are focused on something at the moment.


One question I get when introducing this concept to my clients is, how often and for how long is it ok to keep my door closed.  Unfortunately, it depends.  It depends on the nature of your work and deadlines.  It also depends on the needs of your team.  You will need to find the right balance for what works.  However, it does not need to be set in stone.  Sometimes, you are busier and your door is closed more often.  Other times, you don’t need that focused time.


To start with, I’d recommend at least an hour of uninterrupted focus time for you each day.  If you don’t know what to do to fill this time, use it to plan, review outstanding projects, and to think.  As a leader, you need time to think about what is best for your team and the organization going forward. 


So, how can you feel like it is OK to close the door?


Let everyone know what your closed door means

Let your management, peers, and team know that when your door is closed it’s because you have a deadline you are trying to reach and that it requires your undivided focus.  This means that unless it is an emergency (clearly define the acceptable emergencies) you are not to be interrupted.  If you don’t let everyone know what it means when your door is closed, don’t be surprised when people knock and/or come in!


Set clear expectations

What do you expect people to do if they need to reach you while your door is closed?  If you do not set clear expectations your Instant Messaging, cell phone, or email can start blowing up.  For your team specifically, let them know that you expect them to run with things as far as they can without your input.  Often, the team will start to realize they were coming to you instead of answering questions on their own that they were capable of.  Or, they will find out that there is another team member who also knows the answer, not just you. 


Opening the door

When you complete your work, or need a mental break open your door and go for a walk.  Instead of having people watch your door for when it opens, let them know you will do a lap around the office to see if anything came up while you were focused on your project.  This not only lets you engage with your team, but it allows them to focus on their work while you are busy and not your door.  It will give you the peace of mind that everything was ok while you were getting your work done.



Practicing closing the door to get work done takes, well… practice.  It is a great habit to get into in order to keep you from being overwhelmed.  It is also a great way to teach your team that you want them to focus and get their work done as well.  Make sure you let everyone know what it means when you close the door and set clear expectations.  Oh, and then don’t forget to open the door when you are done!



{#/pub/images/EmilieShoop2014.jpg}Written by Emilie Shoop, Creator and Leader of Shoop Training & Consulting A sought after Coach, Mompreneur, Strategist, Mentor, Speaker, Author, Trainer & Business Consultant, Emilie works with people who are ready for that next level of success, and realize how they work with people is KEY.  Her coaching will help you lead, delegate, sell, collaborate, perform, influence, and relate with people to launch your success to the next level. She provides clients, teams and organizations the skills and tools for leadership and professional excellence.


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Comments (1)

radiantholistics posted on: October 16, 2018

Good article. Keep it up and thank you.

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