It’s understandable that sometimes fear and guilt get in the way of establishing professional boundaries. It’s human nature to worry about people’s reactions to lines that must be drawn. In this post, I want to share with you a few personal and organizational benefits of boundary settings.
Personal Benefits to Boundary Setting
You create emotional freedom for yourself. You will realize you have choices and you don’t have to be a victim.
You enable people to feel secure. Most human beings do not thrive in a sea of unlimited freedom, drama, or chaos because they can’t manage the overwhelm associated with it. People prefer those invisible walls.
You sharpen your assertiveness skills. The minute you decide to set a boundary, you take a stand for something. As folks watch you step into your power, they develop greater esteem for you.
Organizational Benefits to Boundary Setting
If you are in a management/supervisory role:
You foster a culture of respect. When people know how you expect them to interact with each other and with you, they pay closer attention to their choice of words, voice volume and tone, and body language. High quality interpersonal treatment amongst players at all levels impacts the culture and bottom line.
You protect people, their property, and their rights. In most cases formal policies that prohibit abuse, harassment, and theft thwarts these sorts of unwanted, unacceptable behaviors in the workplace. As a leader, part of your job is to keep folks safe so they can relax and focus on their work.
You increase efficiency. When people work within clearly defined boundaries, they waste less time trying to figure out what they are to do and how they are to do it. They are aware already of your expectations in all of the important buckets. In this era of needing to accomplish more within the same amount of time, greater efficiency across the board counts.
You have a yardstick. Once you set clear boundaries in any area, refer to them when somebody pushes up against one. Behaviorally, boundaries determine the code of conduct for your environment. In regards to performance, boundaries serve as indicators for whether or not people make the mark. Evaluating success becomes less subjective.
You provide structure. Boundaries offer a framework in which employees and volunteers can do their jobs and interact with each other. This framework is the guidance all people need and expect to function best. It brings order to the natural chaos inherent in any organization or situation. Too many boundaries, however, can hinder creativity. Your challenge is to strike a balance.
You position folks to focus. As staff and volunteers feel more secure in the workplace, they are better able to focus on what they are to accomplish. They don’t need to wonder if they are doing the right thing in the right way. The established boundaries provide guidance for the day to day what and how. This clarity increases engagement and diminishes stress.
You instill a sense of accountability. Think of boundaries as benchmarks for behavior and performance. They provide the lens through which you and others view and assess the way they talk, act, and deliver. People who know they are being held accountable typically think twice before they demean a colleague or slack on the job.
How you establish boundaries – how you actually present them – can matter more than the boundaries themselves. Use diplomacy, but be firm.
For further reading on boundaries, check out this recent post on establishing boundaries with time. Also stay tuned for my book, Leadership Through Loss, releasing over the next few days.
Image courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net