Last week I had one of those conversations with a coaching client I never thought I'd have with an executive. It was something that, I have to admit, immediately caused my blood pressure to spike (I don't tolerate bullies or rudeness). It was something my client didn't like either but he was too close to the situation and had tolerated it because it seemed to be an accepted part of the organization's culture. His colleagues don't respect closed office doors. They walk right in.
This cultural practice came to light by an off-hand comment he made as he was explaining a challenging project he’s tackling. My client stated that even with his office door closed, his colleagues just walk in when they want to talk with him, ask a question, or when they want to take a break from their work. They don’t knock and wait to be acknowledged. They don’t even knock. They just walk in. I was flabbergasted.
When I asked him why this happens, he said, “It’s been a part of this culture as long as I’ve been here.”
Sometimes You’re Too Close to See Weird Things…
I asked a few more questions to clarify that this practice was widespread but it was not universal because several strong members of the leadership team didn’t behave this way. My client paused and asked, “I can tell by your questions, this is weird isn’t it?”
"It's weird, it's unprofessional, but more than anything, it's rude. Your office door is closed for a reason. You could be dealing with a personnel issue, a confidential client matter, or you could be on a personal phone call. There may well be information on your desk you need to keep confidential. Besides protecting the data in your care, this behavior is just plain rude.”
Don’t Confuse a Leadership Fail with a Cultural Expectation
Contrary to my client’s perception of the practice, this behavior isn’t a cultural practice. It’s a leadership issue. If it were a cultural expectation, there’d be no private offices with doors. It would also be a practice that every member of the leadership team modeled and accepted. It’s not. This behavior is being practiced by some managers who demonstrate little respect for their colleagues. It’s a practice that is tolerated by a leadership team that, for some reason, doesn’t acknowledge this rude, disruptive, and unprofessional behavior. This practice has been allowed because of a leadership failure to see it and address it.
Respect Your Colleagues by Respecting Their Space and Time
Respect your colleagues. Respect their professional space and time. Knock. Wait to be acknowledged. Then respect and accept their ability to speak with you then or not. How you do or do not do this speaks volumes about you.
It’s not all that hard to show a little respect.
Copyright MMXVII - Liz Weber, CMC, CSP - Weber Business Services, LLC – www.WBSLLC.com +1.717.597.8890
Liz and her team work with leaders to create focused plans for their organizations' future. Then they work with the leaders to ensure their plans are implemented effectively.