How to maintain professional boundaries in your business
Business expert Liz McKeon explains how boundaries helps staff maintain focus on individual tasks.
Boundaries involve setting behavioural limits during workplace interactions. Boundaries establish what is acceptable workplace behaviour and how this behaviour affects the way staff communicate with one another. Boundaries also establish rules. They are beneficial in the salon because they help team members understand their individual roles and responsibilities.
Well defined boundaries help to clarify roles because it helps individuals to understand their limits in the workplace, which in turn, helps to maintain focus on individual tasks. With clearly defined boundaries, staff understand their tasks and who to report to for assistance.
Employers who set boundaries related to breaks, electronic communications and the interpersonal and social environment within the workplace define acceptable behaviour related to the topics. Boundaries set by policy outline the possible consequences for violating company policies and help keep staff focused on their jobs.
Firm boundaries, such as prohibiting inappropriate language or verbal abuse in the workplace, help keep the work environment pleasant and professional. Staff members are encouraged to speak in a respectful manner that is not condescending or abusive. With clearly defined boundaries regarding communication, staff utilise the appropriate tone and language with one another, which improve workplace interactions.
Boundaries discourage inappropriate behaviour by setting rules of conduct within the workplace. Codes of conduct define what behaviour is appropriate on the job and what behaviour is unacceptable. For example, boundaries establish standards regarding physical interactions so staff cannot treat one another inappropriately. Boundaries also help employers develop procedures for disciplinary action for staff who violate codes of conduct.
Professional relationships should be personable, but they must be guided by decorum and specific boundaries. Abandoning parameters can create conflict, loss of respect and at times, even embarrassment. In the small business context, this task might be tougher to achieve as salon teams tend to be tightly woven little groups. Some salon owners believe you can't have firm boundaries without sacrificing close working relationships. However, the opposite is actually the case: boundaries actually firm up on grey areas concerning job duties, increasing efficiency and making the salon floor more productive.
Professional boundaries define you and your employees' limits and responsibilities. As a small business owner, you not only have to monitor your own behaviour, but you must also ensure that employees understand and respect the professional boundaries within the team and with clients.
Essential tips on boundaries in the workplace:
- Set limits regarding when and how your employees can approach you. For instance, if you need time to yourself, let employees know you won't be available until after a certain time.
- Refuse to honour employee requests that create hardship for you or cause you to alter your daily schedule.
- Assign tasks to employees that you feel comfortable delegating.
- Deliver disciplinary action to employees that act carelessly or negligently. Part of running a business includes ensuring that employees don't overstep their professional boundaries.
- Ensure that all employees know their role and responsibilities within the business and hold them accountable.
For success, demonstrate consistency and fairness.
Liz McKeon is a successful Business Coach, Trainer, Author and Mentor, whose expertise lies in growing small businesses from scratch and taking existing companies to profitability.