A lack of boundaries creates problems in the workplace. In consulting for major corporations, I have seen a lack of boundaries as the major problem in many management squabbles If people took responsibility for their own work and set clear limits, most of the problems for which I get consulted would not exist.
Here are three ways applying boundaries can solve some common problems in the workplace.
Problem #1: Getting Saddled with Another Person’s Responsibilities.
Many over-responsible people who works next to under-responsible people bear the consequences for their coworkers. Always covering for them, or bailing them out, they are not enjoying their work or their relationships with these people. Their lack of boundaries is hurting them, as well as keeping the other person from growing. If you are one of these people, you need to learn to set boundaries.
If you are being saddled with another person’s responsibilities and feel resentful, you need to take responsibility for your feelings, and realize that your unhappiness is not your coworker’s fault, but your own. This is as in any other boundary conflict, you first must take responsibility for yourself.
Then you must act with responsibility to your coworker. Explain your situation to them. When they ask you to do something that is not your responsibility, say no. Do not fall into the trap of justifying why you can’t do the work for them. You owe no one an explanation about why you will not do something that is not your responsibility.
Note: Sometimes a coworker will genuinely need some extra help. It is perfectly legitimate to bail out a responsible coworker or a colleague who needs time to get well. This is love, and good companies operate lovingly.
Problem #2: Working Too Much Overtime
Many employees take responsibility for their bosses lack of planning and never set limits. If you are in a situation in which you’re doing lots of extra work because you are afraid of being let go, you have a problem.
As hard as it sounds, you need to take responsibility for yourself and and take steps to change your situation. You first need to set boundaries by deciding how much overtime you are willing to do. Next, review your job description if one exists. Then, make a list of the tasks you need to complete each month. Assign each task a priority, and indicate which tasks fall outside of your job description.
Lastly, make an appointment to see your boss to discuss your job overload. Review your list of tasks together and have your boss prioritize them. Be honest if you cannot complete the tasks in the amount of time you’re willing to give.
Problem #3: Misplaced Priorities
Effective workers do two things: they strive to do excellent work, and they spend their time on the most important things.
Work will grow to fill the time you have set aside for it. If a meeting does not have an agenda with time limits, discussion could be endless. Allot time for certain things, and then keep your limits. You will work smarter and like your work more.
Listen to Henry talk about boundaries in the workplace and much more on his brand-new podcast, The Leadership University Podcast. Listen now!