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From Dilbert Comic published 11/6/2017:

Well we all know this situation don’t we. We believe we have to have that open door policy to answer questions to be a great leader! Remember beliefs are not always true. You see it is not the open door policy that is to blame for Barry’s habit – it is the fact that people answer his questions – feeding that habit and robbing you and others of precious time and focus.

You should have an open door policy – that is ok – but to reduce the interruptions and develop a great team simply stop answering questions!

That’s right. Let it be known. Put signs up to remind everyone, and stop answering questions. The signs should say I Intend To. 

You see you want to have everyone feel it is ok to approach you when they are unsure of what to do, but it is not ok to answer their questions. You want them to come with their ideas/solutions.

Think about it:

If you answer Barry’s questions the following is happening:

  1.  He comes to you mindlessly. He doesn’t even think about what to do, he simply asks you.
  2. You answer and he feels that is what he was supposed to do – to keep coming to you with questions so you can answer them.
  3. He learns nothing. He comes in mindlessly and just goes and does what you say mindlessly.
  4. He is not accountable for the results. You told him the answer and he is doing what you said so he is off the hook.

What if you:

  1. Let everyone, including Barry, know that they are welcome to come to you if they are unclear of what to do,
  2. But – they need to come with what they would do if you were not there, what they Intend to do.
  3. They would have to think about the right answer.
  4. You would listen and in most cases say good idea.
  5. They would learn and build confidence in their ability to make decisions and do things right.
  6. They would feel accountable for the results of their solution.

And…they would come to you less and less as they begin to learn and gain confidence that they can make decisions and that usually they are the right ones.

Think of all the time and interruptions that would be eliminated and the team you could develop doing this one simple thing consistently every day.

Learning is not enough – we must do.