Browse Month: February 2006

Great news

In late October we were awarded a prestigious grant by the Telematics Foundation of the Victorian Government to make our leadership programs available to a global audience via the internet and related technologies. Very exciting!

Since then we’ve been burning the midnight oil building the infrastructure that will allow us to work with you – wherever you are located – in new and exciting ways.

It’s not quite ready yet for unveiling but if you want to be the first to hear all about it subscribe to our newsletter, Leading Well, or to the RSS feed for this blog.

My door is always open…

There’s no doubt it’s important for a good manager to be available. When you delegate a project or assign a task you probably go to great pains to ensure you receive regular reports and updates. I’m sure you make it quite clear that you are available if help or advice is needed.

Maybe you’ve even used the words:
‘My door is always open …’

Perhaps it’s part of the culture or just company policy. In some organizations an open door is more than encouraged – it’s mandatory! Sometimes it’s even institutionalized and structural: all the doors are eliminated and everyone works in an open plan area.

But does having your door always open, work? One of the most common complaints I hear from managers and executives is that they are so busy, yet they never seem to get anything done.

The problem? Constant interruptions.

If people are constantly bringing you their issues, reports and concerns all day every day, how do you ever get any of your own work done?

Some managers cope by coming in early or staying back late to get the uninterrupted time they need to do their own work. That’s clearly unfair. And typically, it’s not very long before someone starts arriving early or staying late to catch you.

Others might work with their doors open, but everyone know about the invisible barrier. That’s the one with ‘Keep out!’ splashed across it in invisible ink. Cross it at your peril! The door might be open, but they’re not really accessible.

The fact is that if your door is ALWAYS open, it’s never really open.

If your door is always open, your people don’t have any way of knowing if now is a good time for you to talk to them – without interrupting you. And once you have been interrupted, you have lost your focus and might as well handle the problem. Then it can take you ten or even twenty minutes to get back into the swing of that critical problem you almost had sorted out … In fact sometimes, we never quite manage to capture the flow again and an opportunity is lost forever.

Lots of the tasks we do are routine and an interruption doesn’t matter too much. But if you are in a senior role, some of them are not. Some of your work really deserves your focus and full concentration.

If you explain to your people that you need some quiet time when you have work to focus on and deadlines to meet, therefore you plan to close your door occasionally, they will understand.

More than that, they will appreciate that, when your door is open, you truly are available and they really are welcome to talk to you about something that’s troubling them.

More on how to close your door in the Quick Tips below:



‘When you become quiet, it just dawns on you.’

Thomas Edison (1847-1931)


  • The key to successfully closing your door occasionally is to ensure that the people who report to you, and those you report to, all know what you are doing and why it is so important you not be interrupted. Talk to them about it.
  • Try setting and sticking to a regular time when you close your door to focus on your own work. If your people expect that from 11-12 each day your door is closed, they will get into the habit of speaking you before or after that time. And you will be amazed at how much you can achieve in an uninterrupted hour.
  • Don’t forget to divert your telephone and turn off your email while your door is closed.
  • If you work in an open plan office and don’t have a door to close, agree on some other signal for your ‘no interruptions’ time. I know of one office where people display a green or red flag over their desk depending on whether they are available or not. Even a hand written sign would do, if you explain what it means and ask your people to respect it.
  • Be prepared to clarify what constitutes an emergency exception to your new ‘no interruptions if my door is closed’ policy. You may need to be firm about this a couple of times before you are happy that people share your view of what can and can’t wait an hour for your door to be ‘open’ again.
  • Talk to your people about whether they might benefit from introducing the same system. (And make sure you respect their ‘no interruptions’ time, if you want them to respect yours.)

Success with Simplicity

I’ve just finished reading an intriguing book called Success with Simplicity. It’s a quick and enjoyable read, but packed full of challenges to the way we so often do things as managers and leaders.

The author, David Brewster, styles himself as Australia’s Simplicity Specialist and he certainly manages to cut to the essence of the topics he covers.

Have a look at it if you think everything just keeps getting needlessly complex day after day.

I want a mentor

Q. How can I convince my company to find me a mentor?

A. If you ask the right people it will help.

Start by talking to your Human Resources department, as well as your supervisor, about all the benefits of mentoring, not only to you personally, but to the company. Even if they do not want to set up a company-wide mentoring program they may be willing to help you identify and approach someone suitable to mentor you.

Print off a copy of my article on Seven Good Reasons Why You Should Set Up a Mentoring Program Now to take with you when you go to talk to them. You could even leave a few copies of it lying around where it can be seen by others.

If that doesn’t work you may find it is more productive to take responsibility for finding your own mentor outside your workplace.

You will get lots of ideas about how mentoring works as well as how to find your own mentor from my free ten week Secrets of Mentoring eCourse if you sign up for it.