Army Open Door Policy: What You Should Know

In the Army, all Commanders are supposed to have an Open Door Policy.

In most cases, commander’s type up a memorandum for the record, and post it on the unit bulletin board.

They claim the policy is in place and they are in compliance with all regulations.

Therefore, they assume they are good to go.

While doing this is better than doing nothing, it’s still not the best course of action you can take as a leader.

We all know that most Army units are flooded with SOPs and policies that no one knows about or understands.

I do believe you should have a memorandum written and posted, but my version of an Army Open Door Policy is much more comprehensive.

Commanders will establish an open door policy within their commands. Soldiers are responsible to ensure that the commander is made aware of problems that affect discipline, morale, and mission effectiveness; and an open door policy allows members of the command to present facts, concerns, and problems of a personal or professional nature or other issues that the Soldier has been unable to resolve. ~ AskTOP

army open door policy

At a minimum, your soldiers MUST know that you are there and are OPEN to hearing their problems and concerns.

That means you must communicate with your soldiers often (two-way communication).

They must know that you really care, based upon your actions, not just by what you say.

Whenever possible, you need to communicate with ALL your subordinates and find out what they are thinking.

Ask them questions.


Take notes of the conversation to keep as a reference.

I also believe that a true Open Door Policy in the Army means that you are accessible at all times.

Your soldiers must be able to have access to you whenever possible.

Of course, they should go through their chain of command first before they bring their issues to you.

But there are some cases when this is just not feasible.

I also recommend you “remove” the door from your office or always keep it open, in case a soldier wants to approach you.

You can also post your schedule on the bulletin board so soldiers can see when you will be available.

And if you have a gatekeeper (such as a secretary), make sure they doesn’t prevent people from seeing you.

Your commander has an open door policy, and your Sergeant is the door knob. That means try to solve things on the lowest level first. But this is not a necessity. If you have a reason for skipping the chain of command and going to your CO, it will be forgiven. If you have any specific questions feel free to ask. Open door policies are super important and can do a lot of good when used correctly. ~ Spike762x39 via Reddit

leaders are in the people business

To some leaders, this might seem like an inconvenience.

But I’ve found that all leaders are really in the people business.

That means we need to be available to listen to, to coach, and to help our followers when they need it.

So make sure you have an “Open Door Policy” in place, and make sure you are accessible when your soldiers need you.

What do you think about this?

Do you follow the Open Door policy now?

Please comment below.

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chuck holmes

Chuck Holmes
Former Army Major (resigned)

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5 thoughts on “Army Open Door Policy: What You Should Know”

  1. Johndel Callora

    A leader is effective if he does not push his teammates aside instead drawing them close together by being approachable and open to any conversation. Always be there for your teammates to listen to their concerns, or whatever problems that they are facing while being deployed. It will strengthen your bond as a unit.

  2. Also, most of the time the open door policy will never be used. Most things will go through the chain of command. However, you do need your people to know you are accessible if it's necessary. It could be a subject so sensitive (personally or legally) that they feel the need to come to you personally.

    They shouldn't feel like they can walk in for a casual chat, but they shouldn't be frightened to approach you if the situation warrants it either. An SOP followed up by a stand up talk should help keep the Open Door Policy clear to everyone.

    1. Having an Open Door Policy is important. You need to be accessible as a leader, but only if people have gone through the chain of command first. Many Soldiers abuse this policy in hopes of taking their issue to the top.

  3. I also agree that the open door policy must be in place with all Company Commanders. It is also very important that the Commander does enforce when a soldier doesn’t use the chain of command. Having the open door policy means reiterating it with soldiers too. They do need to know that the policy is always there and you, as Commander, will always honor it.

  4. Candace Ginestar

    Chuck, I think that the open door policy should be a no brainer! We are in the people business, and we need to be accessible, and not seeing as closed off leaders. For most things, there needs to be a proper flow of information, but your Soldiers knowing that they can contact you when appropriate is very valuable.

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