How to set professional and personal boundaries

December 4, 2019

By Cheryl Meyer at Financial Management on December 1, 2019

The modern workplace can be brutal. Many managers and leaders work too many hours, take on tasks that aren't their own, and don't take care of themselves physically and emotionally. They get distracted by social media, text messages, or emails, losing focus and wasting time. They don't spend enough time with friends and family.

And they lose sight of what success should be — hard work, but also a work/life balance so one can recharge. "If boundaries are clearly set, it can make for a happier and healthier environment, and clear up or drastically reduce the likelihood for miscommunication" in the workplace, said Michael Diettrich-Chastain, the CEO of Arc Integrated, a training and coaching firm in Asheville, North Carolina. "Often boundaries get blurred when we take on responsibilities that are not ours, whether professional or personal."

If managers don't set boundaries, the consequences run the gamut. They may resent or mistrust colleagues for pawning off work, have difficulty making decisions, or become irritable, which can cause disruption for their teams, Diettrich-Chastain noted.

Or they become unproductive and fatigued, experience burnout, and turn into ineffective leaders. "If you have a manager who cannot manage his time, he's not very good at managing other people," said workplace wellbeing mentor Sheila O'Malley, based in Dublin, Ireland. "If he's a perfectionist, he's probably a micromanager and poor delegator, and none of these things are what works."

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