Setting Boundaries as Leaders and Employees

Boundary setting for the castle

Do you know a leader who says yes to everything?  Their team just finished a significant and stressful month to get an “urgent” marketing experience out the door and the leader agreed to deliver something else urgent on a compressed timeline.  Where was the boundary between the finish and start of the next project.  It never materialized.  Take a more concrete example.  Do you ever block time off on your calendar to get work done and people just schedule right over that without any care or thought?  Is it ok to get a meeting scheduled for the same day? As leaders, we have a responsibility to set boundaries to protect our team and as employees we have a responsibility to protect ourselves.

How I Communicate With Myself

Throughout my life, I have heard that it was ok to talk to yourself as long as you didn’t answer back.  People might think you are crazy or something.  Well I must be crazy.  Not only to I talk to myself, I can carry on quite a back and forth conversation.  I suppose that I could just find Harvey hopping around and have the conversation with him. I might get a totally different perspective.  I don’t just talk to myself though, I also leave sticky notes and take a mirage of whiteboard pictures of scribblings only I understand.  I even send myself emails from myself to remind myself to do something for myself.  Kind of chaotic huh.

The front of one of my daughter’s journals. Love her artwork and creativity.

I also try to do a daily recap of my day in a journal format. To be clear, most of the information on the virtual page is just work related.  I have a structure with a freeform placeholder at the end.  Also, I recap my previous day in the morning of the next day to put down on paper the ideas that have been percolating while sleeping.  When I do it consistently, I feel refreshed at the start of the day, ready to capture the moments ahead and bend them to my will.  When I don’t journal, I am often missing elements, forgetting tasks, or randomizing myself on the not important and not urgent quadrant of life.

Can you understand me?

I am constantly surrounded by a very diverse group of individuals. I can name 15 differently languages that can be spoken in my work hallway alone. Compound that with the jargon of work, more acronyms than the military, and multiple mediums of communication, it is truly amazing that anything is well communicated. This is becoming the normal world of business. It is one where time zones, cultures, dialects, colloquialisms all converge into one melting pot.

Silence can be really loud when there is a problem

Communicate often

There was no update in the last 2 weeks. Just silence, crickets, and an occasional rumor that something was amiss.

At the monthly business review, Jack was informed by the development team that the feature they were working on was delayed. Sara was ill, a production bug took twice as long to fix as anticipated, and they had just received the comps a week late. In addition, the Program Manager didn’t update the status last week appropriately that was shared out to the team. A new deadline wasn’t given.

One Question You Should Ask Before Making A Decision

Spending the time to answer this question before any decision can’t hurt.

When I heard this question asked by Andy Stanley, I wasn’t prepared for how much this question would infiltrate my thoughts and decisions. The question is becoming one that I am thinking about each time and saying where appropriate. Are you ready to internalize this question?

Andy Stanley put the question in the form of “What would a great leader do?” Replace the word leader with:

  • Employee
  • Friend
  • Husband / Wife
  • Parent
  • And the list goes on:

Maybe you have uncovered the power of this great question, “What would a great (Fill in the Blank) do?” If so, you probably already know the value. For those of you just discovering this question, let me share my thoughts:

Feedback With Integrity

Take feedback and keep moving forward.  Apply it where it makes sense 

Over the past few days, my inbox has started to fill with requests for feedback from my peers. Interestingly, I don’t know if they personally requested it or if it was requested by their manager. Either way, I am encouraged that I may be able to participate in such a valuable exercise.

However, before I share how I provide feedback, let’s understand the realities of feedback systems.

Setting Expectations for Communications Responses

As I have started thinking about the best ways to communicate, I am realizing that most of my communications problems are self-inflicted.   One of the biggest areas is how I respond. I very rarely respond to text messages, I may read Facebook feeds every couple of days, I am not consistent on mediums such as twitter, and I am too instantaneous on email.

Last week’s email statistics via Delve Analytics

I am not saying that how I respond or interact above is bad, in fact, I would argue that for the most part they are absolutely the right approaches for me. However, there is potentially another person on the back side of the email, text, or post with whom communication happens. My goal now is to set the right expectations with my style of communication.

A Smile is a great conversation starter

When someone smiles at me, I catch myself drawn in and smile back.  Frowns, grimaces, or scowls push me away.  When I walk down the halls at work, I make a practice of smiling at others.  Usually what ensues is a good morning, hello, or how are you doing? Oh by the way, they are smiling back.

Provide Context for the Data

Send the Right Message

Just a bunch of information that makes no sense.  Just like many decks I see with charts.

I am often asked to provide charts of data, tables of information, and bullet point lists though the week. I just put together a basic bar chart in Excel (Select your table and hit the F11 key) a few hours ago. Today’s topic in communication is making sure that the data meets the context of how it is being used.

Meeting Communications

Maybe You Don't Need a Meeting

I am glad these guys were at the meeting.  Mural on board the Pride of America

As I was reviewing the email for the last time in the day, I received four meeting requests, all with no agenda and ambiguous titles. My initial response was to just decline without any reason. After a hard pause, I decided to be more civilized fashion and at least respond with a couple of questions.