We all know how important it is to set boundaries. We set all kinds of boundaries that act as walls to keep the good in and the bad out. But how often do we think through our professional work/life boundaries? From my experience, these lines are not thought out as well as others and are too easily blurred. I’ve heard many successful businessmen and women tell me that one of the hardest areas to tackle is work/life boundaries. This begs the question: Why? Why is it so difficult to create and maintain good boundaries at work?
Well, I won’t attempt to answer this question in a blog post, for it is much too vast a topic. However, I would like to challenge each of us to ask ourselves where we stand in this process and how we can improve. I have been very focused on this area as I recently read the book “Boundaries” by Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend. In this book, Cloud offers the explanation that many people think of boundaries as walls—solid and immovable (without doing damage to the foundation). In reality though, boundaries should be more like fences. The difference? Fences have movable gates and are more open to changing if necessary. When we set boundaries, especially in the professional world, we need to make them flexible enough to change as our responsibilities do.
With that understanding, let’s talk about a couple of things that are absolutely necessary to have healthy, effective boundaries in the workplace.
- Honest, consistent communication with supervisors and team members. We cannot set boundaries on our own and simply expect them to be respected without communicating them well. This means that as a team member, having some honest and open conversations with your performance advisor is vital. Both individuals need to be on the same page regarding your responsibilities and how your boundaries will empower you to exceed expectations while remaining healthy.
- Feedback and Flexibility. That initial conversation is only the starting point for future discussions regarding the boundaries that are set. This could look like monthly check-ins to see if the fences should be moved or a gate needs to be added. You must be open to modifying some boundaries based on the feedback your supervisors give. Just make sure changes are made without compromising core values you may have, such as family time and physical health.
At HORNE, Fearless Unrivaled Flexibility applies to every single team member and allows us to set healthy boundaries that help us better serve our teammates and clients. The partner I serve under once told me, “Your success is not measured by the amount of hours you work.” He was encouraging me to take care of myself so that I could beBetter for my team and our clients. While I know I have a long way to go, I’m incredibly thankful for my team who encourages and supports one another in building good fences.
About the Author
Megan Hudson is a former intern whose experience at HORNE changed her mind about what it means to work at a regional firm. She began her part in building the Wise Firm last fall as a technology risk analyst for HORNE Cyber Solutions, specializing in IT assurance and risk services.