If used effectively, an open-door policy does much to grow a brand. I have been committed to this management style since becoming head of the South African operation of one of the largest automotive manufacturers in the world. And while our mission in the country is clear, it is another thing entirely to realise it. To grow our brand and build a reputation on integrity, recognisable style, reliability and superior build quality might sound like any automotive manufacturer, but here we have taken it to heart.
This means that we have to understand all aspects of the business, and there is no better way than to get feedback directly from our employees. A company cannot say it is prepared to grow its brand and increase its presence in a market without coming to grips with what is happening inside it. Fighting battles on two fronts just opens a company up to losing the war.
Giving people the opportunity to air their views and discuss some of the opportunities they see for the company has allowed me to make more informed decisions. Companies need to be careful not to pay lip service to open-door policies. By its nature, an open-door policy is a passive initiative. Leaders are relying on employees coming to them. Just because there is such a policy in place does not mean it is working if the office is quiet or people just agree with every decision that is made. This does come at a cost, though: leaders need to be available. What is the point if they are going to be off-site all day, every day, or spend weeks at a time travelling and not be there if someone needs to talk to them? Employees are the best ambassadors any company can hope for.
If they are positive about the brand, its products and services, they will tell their friends and families about it. Similarly, if they feel the company is not doing what it is supposed to do, then they are quick to judge and damage the brand by discussing all the negatives, quite often in social media. Leaders need to consider what the business (and brand) goals of the company are and then see how an open-door policy can be used to realise them. As with anything, it does take time and energy, but the rewards are there for the taking.
CEO 2 CEO
Challenging global economic conditions have placed companies under increased pressure to perform more effectively while still growing and positioning the brand as something unique.
It seems that companies of all sizes have become only too willing to experiment with new business, brand and communication approaches, while forgetting the fundamental concepts around these elements. While many decision makers learnt a long time ago to differentiate between fads and strategies that offer true business benefits, there is still a feeling of unease when it comes to certain traditional approaches.
Take the open-door policy for example. At times equally loved and hated by leaders, this approach fundamentally encourages openness and transparency from the top down. Its critics say that employees never truly use it, as they fear criticism or being perceived to be negative about the company. Proponents argue that this approach does much to establish a relationship of trust and respect between employees and executives.
Bering Open Brand Growth