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How to Establish Boundaries with your Employees

Continuing on in the thread of establishing and enforcing boundaries with difficult managers from last week, today we’re discussing how to best establish boundaries with your employees. This is one of the most important skills that managers can develop. It’s tempting to try to be one of the guys when it comes to engaging with your employees, but the need to establish and enforce those boundaries is critical. Establishing boundaries doesn’t mean that you don’t earn the love and friendship of your employees. Rather it’s about making sure they see you as their boss and someone they need to take seriously and respect. Here are several tips to help you accomplish this without distancing yourself from your team.

Say No When You Mean No

It can be difficult to disappoint your employees, especially when you are concerned about appearances and making sure that you are a “good boss.” But what makes a boss good is their ability to be honest and trustworthy in their interactions with their employees. That sometimes means saying no or turning employees down when they have a request you can’t accommodate. For example, if someone is hoping for a raise or a promotion that you can’t accommodate. It’s far kinder to say no when you mean no, rather than stringing someone along unnecessarily. Learning to say no can be really challenging for some managers. But it’s in truth a skill. Transparent and open communication is a key leadership skill. Even if your team is disappointed in your response, that’s something that you need to be able to manage and work through as a team.

Limiting Socialization

Engaging in after work activities if and when inappropriate is a slippery slope when it comes to weakening your boundaries with employees. When your team sees you as a friend first and a manager second, that comes with a cost.  By limiting your socialization with teammates, you maintain strong boundaries between the personal and the professional areas of your life. This is especially true when it comes to relationships in the workplace. Maintaining strong boundaries between your personal and professional life is important to making sure that you maintain your position of leadership within your team.

Don’t Accept Poor or Unfinished Work

In an attempt to be seen as a “good boss,” it can be tempting to take it easy on your team or even pick up their slack when the need arises. But keep in mind that you can never achieve all your business goals on your own. You need to hire people you trust to do the job, but then follow through on that trust and make sure they are accountable for their work. If you receive poor or unfinished work, call it out. Provide helpful and constructive feedback, but don’t let it slide. When support or direction is needed, provide it. This is important for your career as a manager, but also for their career. Don’t look at feedback as a negative. Rather, feedback is a critical element of growth and success. Make sure you deliver that criticism in a transparent and respectful manner but don’t accept work half done. Call it out and make sure your team knows what you expect from them.


For help building a team you know you can count on, connect with the team at Bergman Brothers today.