Focus on the Whole Team: Set Healthy Boundaries to Succeed

December 12th, 2017 | by Walt Whitfield
Focus on the Whole Team: Set Healthy Boundaries to Succeed


As another college football regular season ended, the coaching carousel began. Rumors flew about coaches on the hot seat. Others had secretly agreed to new jobs. A dozen or so jobs were up for grabs, but the one that stood out was Scott Frost to Nebraska. He coached the University of Central Florida to an American Athletic Conference title. During the post-game interview, the interviewer asked him about his future. I understand the media’s want to break news, but Coach Frost wasn’t able to celebrate or break the news to his own team. It got me thinking. Are there any healthy boundaries in this highly competitive industry? Luckily, healthy boundaries at work can and should be set. Here are a few tips to setting healthy boundaries at work.

Know Yourself

Every department knows its strengths and weaknesses. Some departments may have seemingly unlimited resources. Others may have highly limited resources. The key is to know what your department values and offer that at a high level. At work, it is important you know what you value. If you value afternoons to work out, it would serve you well to be vocal about not working late. If you value time on the weekend for the family, it would serve you well to be vocal about not working weekends. Know your values and be vocal about why you can’t take on extra work for those reasons. 

Be Clear, Be Consistent

When dealing with young adults within an athletic program, coaches are clear and consistent with rules and expectations. Clear and consistent are synonymous with successful products and services in business. The same goes for successful college athletic programs. Fans love to know what to expect. Within the office setting, it is important to clearly state boundaries with coworkers. Signage or friendly emails are great ways to clearly state a boundary. If you have an open-door policy but when you have a close door you expect to be left alone, a “Do Not Disturb” sign or email before your task could go a long way to gaining your coworkers respect. Be consistent. If you break it for one coworker, others may test that boundary.

Handle Boundary Crossings

Eventually, things go wrong. Teams lose. Projects run late. Employees make mistakes. It happens. It is important to prepare to handle these issues correctly. When first setting up boundaries, you can not expect all your coworkers to know your wants and needs. Handle first-time boundary crossings with respect and care. This is a great time to educate and learn where you may have made mistakes that led to the crossing. Were you vocal enough? Did your lack of control enable a boundary crossing? Learn from it. And be as respectful as possible.

Healthy boundaries in the workplace are important. Setting these barriers keeps your space and time respected. Know your values, and set boundaries accordingly. Be clear and consistent to force all to respect your boundaries all the time. Handle crossings respectfully and learn from them. Respect yourself, and others will follow. 

Walt Whitfield About Walt Whitfield
Walter Whitfield is an employee wellness consultant and founder of Lavoro Workplace Wellness where he helps businesses improve their workplace through employee wellness strategies. He has worked with corporations like Chevron, BP, and Seadrill. Walter is a former college athlete for Louisiana’s Ragin Cajuns where he competed in cross country and track, winning Sunbelt conference titles in the 3k Steeplechase and 5k. He is married, has 3 kids, and loves all things New Orleans Saints and Louisiana’s Ragin Cajuns.

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