Tips For New Managers On Setting Up Boundaries
You scored a promotion, and you’re ready to make a difference in your new position. Remember, your role has changed. Last week, you went out for happy hour with your friends/coworkers to complain about…the boss. Now you’re the boss. You’ll need to set some boundaries to ensure your future success.
Be Wary Of Work Friendships
Your friendships with your coworkers are based on shared experiences, common goals, birthday cakes, and griping about the job, and those friendships often move beyond the workplace to include movie nights, concerts, and long lunches where you divulge personal struggles.
Sadly, those relationships will have to change. You don’t want your direct reports to believe you show favoritism. If your best friend is an office mate, agree to take a step back from your close relationship during work hours.
A simple way to maintain your important office friendships is to leave work issues out of social get-togethers and social conversations out of working hours—in short, leave the office at the office and your social life at home. If you’re invited to happy hour, leave early so your employees can relax. If you’re not included, don’t take it personally—remember needing to blow of steam with people who understand.
Limit What You Share
You’re used to sharing your personal problems with your close work buddies. That’s not a good idea anymore. Apply the Miranda warning to your conversations on the job, and remember: “Everything you say can and will be used against you.”
Consider how sharing health issues, problems you’re having with your spouse or significant other, or disagreements with children or in-laws has the potential to make your employees feel unsettled or anxious—it’s one thing when your peer doesn’t have it all together, but most people hope those in management are at least capable of appearing to be professional and reliable despite what may be happening in their personal lives. Find someone outside the office to vent to, and show a dependable, steady face to your team.
Use Space And Time To Define Your Accessibility
Your coworkers are used to being on equal footing with you, and because of that, they won’t hesitate to come to you with job-related questions, concerns, problems, and advice. That’s great. Until you need to get your own tasks done.
If you’re fortunate enough to have an office of your own, close the door. If you don’t have an office, use plants, bookcases, or other barriers to give yourself a little privacy.
After you’ve created a little space, set your hours of availability. Reserve your most productive time of day to get your key goals accomplished. Then, make yourself accessible to your staff during set times, and give it a positive spin, such as: “Open door policy from 2:00 p.m. – 3:30 p.m.” If positive isn’t working, go ahead and make yourself a “Do not disturb” sign for when you need to be left alone.
Remember, Your Task Is To Manage
Although you certainly can—and should—pitch in to help the team when you’re needed, remember you’re a supervisor now. Your attention should be on managing and keeping an eye on the big picture. It may feel easier to maintain your former responsibilities rather than training a new hire or current employee to do the job, but if you’re busy performing your old tasks, you won’t have time to focus on your new role.
Make New Friends
Finally, if your social circle and work life have always been one and the same, it’s time to start making new friends and connections. Start volunteering and/or join a club, meet-up social group, or recreational sports team.
As you make friends outside of work, it will be easier to maintain the new boundaries you’ve established.