I’m not going to sugarcoat this – this topic is difficult. Extremely difficult and complex. I’ve been asked several times in the past month about appropriate supervisor boundaries. How do we train our supervisors to have appropriate boundaries? How do we know where to set boundary lines?
Each person has their own idea of what boundaries are and where their lines should be. While some companies have specific policies regarding supervisor and employee boundaries, there can still be a lot of grey areas. Supervisors should first be educated about any legal boundaries and company policies. Then proceed with a discussion on discuss personal values and the company values that align with boundaries, tying these to specific behaviors. Supervisors must clearly communicate and role-model appropriate boundaries once they have been established.
*Formulate boundaries in alignment with company and personal values
*Keep boundaries consistent among staff
*Be friendly, not friends with those you supervise
*Clearly and consistently communicate boundaries
*Address boundary breaches promptly
*Lead by example
A common scenario that comes up is an employee asking to connect with a supervisor on social media. In this scenario, the company policy does not strictly prohibit social media connections between employees. A supervisor decides they are not comfortable with having those they supervise as social media connections. The supervisor values the distinction between work and family life. They hold to this boundary with all those they supervise, not connecting with any of them on any social media platform. When asked, the supervisor is able to clearly articulate that they value the connection with those they supervise at work, but prefer to keep their personal life private.
Reflection Question: How do I role model boundaries in accordance with my personal values?
Topic Next Week: Mental Health at Work