Similar to many actions – like shooting a cinematic wedding film or cooking with a recipe – when it comes to setting boundaries in the workplace, mistakes should be avoided as much as possible as consequences range from reduced effectiveness to legal issues. Thus it’s important to approach boundary-setting in the workplace thoughtfully and with consideration.
So here are 3 mistakes to avoid when setting boundaries in the workplace.
It won’t do to confuse being rigid with setting boundaries because while setting boundaries is a key aspect of maintaining a healthy and productive work environment, being too rigid often means the opposite result.
Setting boundaries in the workplace is all about policies around issues such as communication, work hours, deadlines, performance standards, etc all of which ultimately benefit the workplace. Rigidity on the other hand generally involves an inflexible and uncompromising approach to work policies, procedures, or management practices, from a manager insisting that employees work fixed hours every day, without allowing for accommodation for personal obligations or emergencies to a policy that imposes severe penalties for minor infractions, without taking into account extenuating circumstances.
So to avoid the negative consequences of rigidity, it is essential to balance the need for structure and efficiency with flexibility and consideration for the unique needs and circumstances of individual employees.
Being unclear is a fairly common mistake to make when setting boundaries, especially in the workplace. For example, sometimes managers or leaders assume that their employees understand the boundaries, without actually communicating them clearly. Or, sometimes, boundaries are not communicated clearly because they have not been clearly defined in the first place. Even a desire to avoid conflict or pushback from employees is a reason why boundaries may become unclear.
The problems with unclear boundaries are plenty. Such as
confusion about roles and responsibilities that can result in mistakes, missed deadlines, and lower productivity as well as inconsistency because unclear boundaries are difficult to enforce consistently, creating a perception of favoritism or unfairness, which can harm morale, trust within the workplace, and even give rise to a discrimination lawsuit.
Setting clear boundaries include defining boundaries, communicating them consistently, and providing employees with the support and resources they need to maintain healthy boundaries.
Being Inconsistent With Enforcement
Speaking of enforcement, without it, there’ll be no point in setting boundaries in the first place and even enforcing inconsistently, because they will not be taken seriously; and as previously explained, consequences include confusion, resentment, and a lack of trust among team members.
Holding everyone in the workplace accountable for their actions at all times so that consequences are consistently applied when boundaries are violated means actions ranging from verbal warnings to termination, depending on what line was crossed.
Boundaries in the workplace ensure the smooth running of operations, but only when everything is done properly. So start by avoiding these mistakes: rigidity, unclarity, and inconsistency.
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