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The company has an open door policy that ensures every employee can bring issues of concern to any manager or human resources (HR) for discussion and/or review.

Under this policy, if you need support or guidance, you have a few options: You can talk to your manager, you can talk to another manager, you can talk to your manager's manager, or you can talk to HR. You're not required to "start at the bottom."

This guide is meant to help you understand how the policy works and what you should expect when you have an open-door conversation. It's also intended to help you decide what to do if you are faced with a concern.

For even more insight into how the company expects open-door conversations to work, and to get a better idea of how managers are expected to conduct themselves, you can read link to the manager's guide to open-door conversations.

When should I take an issue to a manager?

You may need to use the open-door policy for a number of reasons. In each of these cases, managers and HR partners at the company are expected to hear your concerns and provide you with help to resolve them. You're not expected to simply fix the problem for yourself, though if you decide to after an open-door conversation, you can.

Concerns about policy and process

You may feel that there's a problem with a company process or policy and want to address it. We expect managers to hear your feedback on these issues, and then let you know how they plan to act.

Concerns about discrimination or harassment

If you see or experience any behavior that violates our anti-discrimination policies, we strongly encourage you to raise the issue with a manager. Some examples of this include:

  • Hearing or being the target of racist, sexist, or homophobic language or jokes.
  • Personal attacks.
  • Unfair treatment that causes you to feel singled out or isolated from the rest of the team.

Inappropriate behavior doesn't always take the form of overtly bigoted or hostile language. Sometimes, seemingly small things can also create an atmosphere where you don't feel comfortable:

  • Jokes or put-downs at your expense.
  • Routinely dismissing or ignoring your ideas.
  • Interrupting you, speaking over you, or speaking for you in a way that causes you to feel disrespected.
  • Constant and needless check-ins that cause you to feel overly observed.
  • Crowding your personal space or unwelcome touching (even if it's non-sexual).

Sometimes the people doing these things don't mean any harm, or they're not aware of the impact their behavior is having, but their behavior can still make the workplace seem like a hostile or unwelcoming place. Regardless of their intent, behaviors like this don't have any place at the company.

Conflict with another employee

If you're in conflict with another employee, open-door conversations provide a venue through which you can discuss the conflict and get either support in the form of coaching or intervention to resolve it.

Concerns about performance evaluations or workload

You may feel like you're not being treated fairly in terms of advancement, professional development, or workload. We want every employee to feel satisfied with their careers here, and every manager is committed to helping you if you don't believe you're being treated fairly. In these cases, seeking out the next level in your management chain is a good first step to ensure the best professional perspective on your situation. If you feel you can't speak to next-level management, an HR partner can hear your concerns and help you begin to address them.

The most important thing to remember is that if you feel uncomfortable with the way you're being treated by another person in the workplace — even though seemingly small behaviors — you should talk to a manager. By bringing your concerns forward when they arise, the people involved in problem behaviors can be alerted before those behaviors lead to a larger conflict.

The Company Doesn't Tolerate Retaliation

No matter why you choose to get help with a problem, the company has a policy of zero tolerance for retaliation in response to someone raising an open door concern. We do not want any employee to be concerned about how they will be treated if they raise a concern.

Retaliation can include disparaging comments, lack of equitable access to time/resources, the establishment of unachievable goals relative to peers, or inappropriately initiating performance plans and other forms of progressive discipline.

If you believe you are being punished for raising a concern, you should report this treatment to the human resources team right away.

Should I do anything before an open-door conversation?

You're not required to gather any particular documentation or do anything special before you have an open-door conversation.

You may be asked about the problem you've been having in terms of frequency or how long it has been going on. You may be asked if you've taken steps to correct it on your own, or if you've addressed the issue with someone else. It will help any manager or advocate you talk to if you can provide this sort of context and background, but you'll never be required to take any particular steps or work toward solving the problem before you can have an open-door conversation.

What can I expect when I talk to a manager?

The company expects managers and leaders to deal with open-door conversations in a manner that reduces the burden on employees to get help solving problems they feel overwhelmed, stuck, or unsure about solving for themselves . If you bring a problem to a manager and believe that any of the following guidelines aren't met, you should take the matter to another manager or someone in HR.

Confidentiality and discretion

Your manager and anyone they may have to talk to about the issue are obligated to limit the circle of people involved to a "need-to-know" basis. Your manager may need to ask discrete questions of other employees and is expected to show sensitivity toward your privacy when they do this.

Knowledge of any further escalation or sharing

Your manager is obligated to let you know if they need to bring the situation to someone else's attention, whether that's their own manager, someone in another department, or the HR team. They should always let you know whom they plan to talk to in case you have concerns they should know about.

No matter who your manager speaks to, they're expected to respect your privacy, keep the matter confidential, and observe the company's non-retaliation policy.


Read the company guidance to managers on how to respect your privacy when investigating an issue.


Compassionate communication

When you're discussing the issue with your manager, they may ask you questions about what your ideal outcome is and what steps you may have taken to correct the situation on your own. Their job during your first conversation is to carefully listen to your concerns and ask clarifying questions, not judge your actions.


Read the company guidance to managers on how to conduct a meeting where you're bringing a concern to them.


A follow-up that has been planned before your meeting ends

Before the meeting is over, you should know when you'll next be able to meet and discuss whether the issue you're dealing with has improved. That follow-up will include:

An honest, open assessment of the situation

If the person you speak with disagrees with your perception of the issue, you need to know that so you can decide whether or not to talk to someone else.

Knowledge that action has been taken

If a manager has to take formal action, such as a behavioral plan or written reprimand, they may not be able to discuss it. They should, however, let you know about informal steps they've taken to correct the problem, such as conversations or directives to stop a particular behavior or seeking guidance from HR.

An invitation to talk to someone else

If the person you spoke to tells you that they believe the issue is resolved and you disagree, they should either tell you if they're going to take further action, or offer to help you find someone who can help you further. At this company, we support the right of every employee to address their concerns throughout each level of the company, up to and including the CEO.


Read the guidance to managers on what a follow-up should include.


When does a manager have to go to HR right away?

Though the company prefers managers address issues at the lowest possible organizational level, some issues need to be taken to HR right away. These cases can include:

  • Physical assaults or threats to someone's physical safety.
  • Violation of company policies and guidelines related to ethical conduct.
  • Theft or other criminal activity.
  • Cases of legally defined discrimination and/or harassment.

If you report a problem that requires immediate escalation to HR, the manager will let you know. If that will create a concern for your own safety or well-being, tell them so they can act appropriately.


Read the guidance managers receive on when to escalate to HR immediately


Do I always need to talk to my manager first?

No.

If you need help with a problem, it's often best to start with the person you report to. It's their job to hear you out and either take action or connect you to the resources you need to resolve your problem. Sometimes, though, talking to that person isn't going to work.

When to talk to your manager's manager

You may think your manager is part of the problem, or may have tried to address the issue with them and feel they didn't adequately help you. In that case, you should talk to their manager. That person is responsible for making sure you're treated fairly and without retaliation.

In some cases, your manager may be traveling or on PTO and unable to meet with you. In those cases, a quick note letting them know you'll be speaking to their manager is appropriate.

When to go to human resources first

If you don't feel you can go to your manager or another manager for whatever reason, HR can help. HR partners are trained to deal with open-door issues and can help connect you with the right resources to resolve your problem. Evelyn Carrion is the designated HR partner for open-door conversations, but you can reach out to whomever_ _in HR you feel most comfortable with. Their job is to listen to your concern and either give you the encouragement you need to take the matter to your manager, or help you find someone who can help you resolve the issue.

You can set up an appointment to talk with someone in HR at any time. You can and should feel free to mark the meeting 'Private.' If you'd rather not have the appointment on your calendar, you can send an email and make arrangements that way. Meetings with HR partners are considered confidential, and you can expect the same things in that meeting that you would with a manager, including:

  • Knowing if the matter will need to be escalated beyond your manager.
  • Knowing who will be made aware of your situation.
  • Knowing the timing of any next steps or follow-up.
  • Knowing if action will be or has been taken.

When to talk to a manager on another team or in another department

It may be that you're still trying to understand the problem and don't even know if you want to raise a formal concern. A manager in another department can lend you some perspective without taking any particular action, and may be able to help you determine next steps. They're expected to treat anything you tell them as confidential.

Every executive at this company, up to and including the CEO, is committed to hearing concerns from employees, so never think that there's nobody to talk to. If you don't feel you can talk to your manager or your HR partner and simply can't figure out who else you should talk to beyond them, ask to talk to the CEO.

In all these cases:

  • Your open-door conversation is between you and the person you speak with. You're not required to discuss it with anyone else.
  • You can't be punished for initiating an open-door conversation. Tell HR right away if you believe this is happening.

Can I Open Door More than Once on the Same Issue?

Yes you may. You should continue asking for help, and escalating if needed, until you agree that the issue is resolved or the CEO makes it clear that we have done as much as we can.