Managing Boundaries and Expectations With Your Team

As a manager, getting your team to work together like a well-oiled machine is one of your most important (and toughest) jobs.

You might have a team made up of brilliant individuals with unique strengths but it’s up to you to get everyone pulling in the same direction.

How can you achieve this?

I think the best place to start is by managing boundaries and expectations with your team.

Why Manage Boundaries and Expectations?

If your team don’t know what you expect from them and they aren’t clear on roles and responsibilities, things can go awry. How will people know if they are performing well or not? What direction should they be going in? Is what they are doing contributing towards the wider business goals?

None of these questions are answered if boundaries and expectations aren’t set, and the result is that engagement and performance suffer.

You wouldn’t hire an architect and a team of contractors to design and build your dream home without first telling them exactly what you want and expect, so don’t expect your team to produce the goods if they aren’t clear on your expectations.

What Kind of Boundaries Might You Set with Your Team?

There are lots of different kinds of boundaries and expectations you can set with your team that will make everything run a lot smoother. They might include:

Emotional Boundaries

Taking ownership of your feelings, thoughts, and ideas, and respecting other people’s. For example;

“ I prefer not to talk about …. at work. I like to keep things private.”

“ I don’t agree with you about this, but that doesn’t mean that I’m ignorant or wrong. We are allowed to disagree.”

Workload Boundaries

Setting boundaries about what you will and won’t help with or take on will protect your sanity and encourage your team to figure things out for themselves. For example;

“ My plate is a little full right now, but we can revisit this (next week/month…) when I have more time.”

Time Boundaries

If you don’t set boundaries to protect your time, your days will keep running away from you. For example;

“ I’ve scheduled 30 minutes for our meeting about… This is the agenda. Let’s make sure we use the time wisely and deal with the priority stuff.”

Communication Boundaries

Setting boundaries around when and how you communicate about work is important. You shouldn’t be getting bothered by emails at messages when you’re at home in the evening with your family, and neither should your team members. For example;

“ I’d prefer you not to text me about…Can you email me or use Slack instead?

“If my Slack status says ‘Do Not Disturb’ that means I’m not available so I will respond to your message when I am. “

Setting Boundaries and Expectations with Your Team-How a Team Charter Can Help

An exercise I often do when I’m working with teams is to get them to put together a team charter. Team Charters are really useful documents that define from the start;

  • The purpose of the team;
  • How the team will work;
  • What the expected outcomes are.

Team Charters help get everyone clear on where they are going and what their responsibilities are by outlining;

The Purpose and Objectives of the Team

This way, everyone knows what they need to achieve and how this fits in with the bigger picture. This is a need to know if you want everyone pulling in the same direction.

The Goals of the Team

Measurable goals, targets, and milestones keeps everyone on track.

The Values of the Team

Defining shared values sets the tone for how people work together and how they should treat each other.

Acceptable Behaviours

Agreeing on acceptable behaviours encourages trust, accountability, and responsibility. It also makes it easier to identify behaviour that falls short of the mark. What will you do as a team and what won’t you do?

Roles and Responsibilities

If everyone is clear on these from the start;

  • They know what’s expected and what they need to achieve.
  • There’s no treading on others’ toes or missing something completely because it was unclear who was responsible for what.
  • There’s less conflict, more potential for creativity and innovation, and less fear of ‘overstepping the mark.’ 
  • Time doesn’t get wasted on things that don’t matter.

How to Set Clear Boundaries and Expectations with Your Team

Set Clear Boundaries

To achieve success for the business, everyone needs to be on the same page. As a manager, it’s your job to give your team clear direction and set boundaries on things like what behaviour is expected of them and what falls within the scope of their work. This is not about being a dictator, it’s about giving your people the guidance they need so they can do well.

Communicate Clearly and Regularly

Whether your team is all together in the workplace or some people are working remotely, clear, regular communication is important.

Have regular team meetings to communicate to team members exactly what you need them to do and by when, and communicate the business vision, values, and goals often so that everyone understands what they are working towards.

Remember too that communication is a two-way street, so make time to let team members express their concerns and share ideas, while you simply listen and understand. With remote working, it is even more important to make time for two-way communication.  And consider different ways of getting communication, from surveys to meetings.  Consider the use of Slido and anonymously shared documents.

Clarify Roles and Responsibilities

Every team member should be clear on their responsibilities and how their role contributes to the bigger picture. This can improve engagement and make people feel a part of something bigger than themselves.

If your team are struggling with this, then get them together to explore how it fits with the business vision.

Set Goals to Get People Motivated

Goals can set the direction for your team and keep everyone on track when things get stressful. Set goals for your team that are challenging, measurable, and inspiring to get everyone pulling together as a unit. If they align with individual goals and wider strategic goals, even better.

Keep them in view and make sure you discuss them regularly.  Explore through open questioning when goals aren’t been met but do not single out individuals.

Give Feedback (and be open to receiving it)

One of the best ways to ensure continuous improvement, progress, and better performance is by giving honest, constructive feedback to your team members. Just like communication, this is a two-way street, so be prepared to ask for and receive feedback from your team as well. This builds trust, creates better relationships, and makes for a more harmonious and high-performing team.

Create a Sense of Being a Team

Last but not least, setting expectations is not just about behaviour and responsibilities, it’s also about letting your team know what they can expect from you and what they can expect when they are part of your team.

Work together to create some team values, encourage personal connections and collaboration, and let people know that your door is always open. If people feel like they belong and are needed for team and business success, everyone benefits.

Discuss strengths too, and how they work across the team.  Encourage people to support one another and learn from each other.

How equipped do you feel to get your team pulling in the same direction?

Are you struggling to motivate your team and get them on board with changes that need to happen to realise the business vision?

Do you need help to turn things around but does the idea of spending money right now make you feel nervous?

Ask yourself this, If you get no help, what will change?

Investing in getting some help will help your team and the business grow and develop, and the result will be better performing, more profitable teams who want to work together for the good of the business.

Want to know exactly what’s possible?

Want to be an even better leader then this blog will give you more insights

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