As a leader, having an open door policy means your employees know they can come to you just about any time with any news, problem or concern. Good leaders also let their employees know that the open door policy means employees can and should come with even bad news. Or, news about mistakes they have made.
But, for employees to bring you bad news — often more important for you to hear as a leader versus hearing good news — you need to provide a non-threatening environment as part of your open door policy.
That means, when an employee delivers bad news or tells you about a mistake they made, resist from yelling or losing your temper. Instead, listen carefully. Ask clarifying questions.
If a mistake was made, ask your employee to explain how it happened. Learn what the employee did or didn’t do that caused the poor result. Then, thank the employee for coming to you with the bad news. Next, take the time to teach him or guide him so the mistake doesn’t happen again.
Your employees will greatly appreciate your non-threatening open door policy. That non-threatening environment also means you’ll learn more about what’s happening in your business in general. And you’ll learn more quickly about bad news and mistakes. That gives you a better opportunity to promptly correct the situation.