Help People Understand the Playing Field: Build Trust at Work, Part 5

Often when people think about boundaries, they think about containing something.

Putting people in a box. Separating people and ideas. Impeding collaboration, instead of fueling it.

Yet, in the world of trust, boundaries – when they are as clear as they possibly can be at the outset – are powerful tools. They’re reference points, helping people understand why they are ‘there,’ what their purpose is, and how to collaborate with one another to produce results.

When boundaries clarify the roles and responsibilities of each person, they become a unifying force.

We all want to be a part of something bigger. To find meaning in our work. The beautiful thing about boundaries is that they can serve as springboards to connect with that higher purpose and vision.

Think about it.

What happens when you understand the playing field? When you know where you fit in? Where others fit in? Isn’t it true that being grounded in who does what (and why they do it) supports you to modify and change and adjust the game plan ‘on the fly,’ as needed, when the unexpected occurs.

Organizations who can’t adjust the game plan when the unexpected happens won’t survive.

Boundaries provide a foundation; a working draft. Their purpose is to enable and support teams to be flexibile and adaptable. To be a vehicle through which people can step into the unknown and move through change with less anxiety and lost work effort.

The clearer the boundaries are, the more they enable people to collaborate and do their best work together.

Ask yourself: Are the boundaries in place in your workplace supporting or preventing people to work together effectively?

Trust Tip

  • Do not underestimate the creative power of boundaries; give them your time and attention.
  • Be intentional in defining and articulating roles and responsibilities in your organization.
  • Treat all boundaries as works in progress. Stay open to redefining them over time.
  • Check in periodically to ensure the boundaries in your organization are helping – instead of impeding – people from connecting with your unique purpose and vision.
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