Workplace Culture Jargon That Needs A Timeout

A snarky tweet from @OrchestraSay the other day got me thinking about workplace leadership jargon that can use a timeout.

An “open-door policy” is definitely one of those phrases that not only needs a timeout, but a full replacement. For starters, anyone in a position of authority who tells you “my door is always open” likely isn’t sincere. If they are, that’s an entirely different problem.

When you boil away the good intentions, all you’re left with is the reality that an open-door policy places the responsibility for employees to absorb the risk of initiating a conversation about an idea or problem and it makes things easier for squeaky wheels to dominate strategy.

Most of managers I encounter who use the phrase are either brand new or use it with ulterior motives in mind.

All of this is to say it’s high time to send this phrase out to pasture.

In the meantime, what characteristics do you think help contribute to developing levels of transparency, collaboration, and trust needed to build a healthy workplace culture?

About Drew McManus

"I hear that every time you show up to work with an orchestra, people get fired." Those were the first words out of an executive's mouth after her board chair introduced us. That executive is now a dear colleague and friend but the day that consulting contract began with her orchestra, she was convinced I was a hatchet-man brought in by the board to clean house.

I understand where the trepidation comes from as a great deal of my consulting and technology provider work for arts organizations involves due diligence, separating fact from fiction, interpreting spin, as well as performance review and oversight. So yes, sometimes that work results in one or two individuals "aggressively embracing career change" but far more often than not, it reinforces and clarifies exactly what works and why.

In short, it doesn't matter if you know where all the bodies are buried if you can't keep your own clients out of the ground, and I'm fortunate enough to say that for more than 15 years, I've done exactly that for groups of all budget size from Qatar to Kathmandu.

For fun, I write a daily blog about the orchestra business, provide a platform for arts insiders to speak their mind, keep track of what people in this business get paid, help write a satirical cartoon about orchestra life, hack the arts, and love a good coffee drink.

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