How to Get Employees to Open Up by Michael Fertik

We came across another great article on Inc by Michael Fertik, the founder of

You can walk around all day as the CEO thinking you’re not an intimidating person, but a lot of people, especially those who haven’t known you a long time, are automatically intimidated by your title or by the fact that you don’t talk with them every single day or whatever it is. When you have a strong personality, as I do, you have to make sure you are not intimidating people even more. You can say until you’re blue in the face that you have an open-door policy, but nobody ever takes you up on it.

I try to combat that. Every day or so, I ask someone in the company, What is the dumbest thing you are working on? It accomplishes a few things. First, if I think the project isn’t actually dumb, that usually means I have done an inadequate job explaining how it relates to the larger business, so I explain it a different way. If I think it is kind of dumb and we shouldn’t be doing it, that is of course also helpful. And the question makes the open-door policy real. It gives people a comfort level to say something they might not otherwise say.

Michael-Fertik-800x800_21550Michael Fertik founded with the belief that businesses and individuals have the right to control and protect their online reputation and privacy. Credited with pioneering the field of online reputation management (ORM), Fertik is lauded as the world’s leading cyberthinker in digital privacy and reputation. Recently named Entrepreneur of the Year by TechAmerica, Michael is also a member of the World Economic Forum Global Agenda Council on the Future of the Internet and received the World Economic Forum Technology Pioneer 2011 Award. In addition to writing for, he contributes columns in the Harvard Business Review (HBR), Reuters, and Newsweek. Michael frequently appears on national and international outlets, including BBC, Good Morning America, Today Show, CBS Early Show, CNN, Fox, Bloomberg, and MSNBC.