Importance of Setting Boundaries in the Workplace

Importance of Setting Boundaries in the Workplace

Workplace boundaries are not just about physical space. These boundaries cover the behavioral limits that are acceptable in the workplace. These behavioral limits set what actions are tolerable and undesirable in a corporate setting.


While each organization has its own tailor fit work boundaries, it remains that every workplace needs to set such rules. Workplace boundaries affect how team members communicate and work alongside each other. More importantly, these boundaries keep team members on point about their individual roles, responsibilities, and expectations.


Issues Arising From Lack of Boundaries

Often times, the lack of workplace boundaries results in a toxic office culture. When roles are not clearly defined, team members often become confused.


The confusion can lead to a standstill since no one knows who should step up and lead and who should step back and follow. Lack of clearly defined roles and boundaries can also lead to arguments and failure to work as a team.


“Healthy relationships at work can propel you to great heights of achievement; dysfunctional or toxic ones will tether you to mediocrity,” said The People Factor author Van Moody. “Your success at work depends on your ability to set the kinds of boundaries that encourage mutual respect and keep the focus on productivity.”


The lack of a clearly defined leader results in a lack of direction, which leads to unengaged team members. In every organization, this is a big waste of time and resources.


Undefined workplace boundaries end up in having a toxic work culture that inhibits group and individual performances. Eventually, the loss of trust and respect within and towards the leadership team can break the business altogether.


Types Of Workplace Boundaries Leaders Can Implement

Clinical psychologist Dr. Henry Cloud is the author of Boundaries For Leaders: Results, Relationships and Being Ridiculously In Charge. In an interview with, he listed several examples of workplace boundaries that business owners and leaders should implement.


  • Boundaries that focus on crucial aspects of the business and limits distractions within the workplace.
  • Boundaries that create a positive work environment that enables a team member to perform at his or her best.
  • Boundaries that enable and keep teams to work together efficiently. This means work roles and team accountabilities need to be clearly defined. These boundaries also prevent isolation of teams and its members. Communicating the importance and responsibilities of each team member empowers people to be accountable for their actions.
  • Boundaries that prevent negative thinking patterns to take shape and affect team performance.
  • Boundaries that allow people to focus on their strengths, which leads to measurable results. This means strategically placing people whose strength will be maximized in a specific group rather than focusing on the lack of certain skills.
  • Boundaries that allow team members to further develop around specific team roles, which then leads to high performance. This can be done through clearly defined responsibilities, ranks, and common accountability. These boundaries should allow team members to quickly and internally spot and fix the things that are not working for them.
  • Leaders should also set boundaries for themselves where they can get honest feedback or constructive criticism. These boundaries should be implemented to prevent them from hiding a weakness that could eventually lead to a breakdown and negative thinking patterns.


Importance of Setting Boundaries in the Workplace

Workplace Boundaries in Singapore

In a recent LinkedIn survey of over 1,000 workers in Singapore, findings showed that younger employees share more with their team members. About 40.9 percent of 18- to 24-year-olds said they find it acceptable to discuss their salaries with fellow employees. These are the Millennials, which make up more and more of today’s workplace arena.


In comparison, only 18.4 percent of the baby boomers (aged 55 to 65 years old) find sharing salary rates with their colleagues acceptable. The LinkedIn research of Singaporean workers also found that six out of 10 participants have a co-worker who has their back within the organization. This rate is higher compared to the 48.9 percent global average.


Ironically, over 50 percent of the participants would put friendships on the chopping board when a promotion is in the picture. Given such, it is no surprise that 41 percent of the Millennials involved in the survey admitted they socialize to give them an advantageous vantage point in the rise on board the corporate ladder.


Setting Personal Boundaries at Work

Business leaders also need to set their own personal boundaries at work. Clearly defining your own personal workplace boundaries will help you better manage a team.


First off, you need to identify your own physical, mental, emotional and spiritual limits. One trait of a successful business leader is the continuous self-awareness. Identifying what you find tolerable and intolerable will guide you in drafting the workplace boundaries that will be at play in your day to day work life.


When defining your own personal limits, prevent yourself from comparing it to the standards of other people. Sometimes, it is easy to feel stressed and weak when you compare just how much a colleague can tolerate. You have to keep in mind that this list is entirely your own and you are crafting a tailor-fit organization that you know you can lead to high performance.


When identifying a personal boundary, pay attention to these three feelings: guilt, anxiety and resentment. Making these three feelings red flags can guide you in maintaining your boundaries.


There comes a time when a person or a situation will make you feel angry, uneasy or guilty. When this happens, it is most likely that you are facing a personal boundary and that you should thread carefully.


Rating your level of anger, discomfort and guilt in a certain continuing situation or person will guide you if there is a need to strengthen an existing boundary or create an entirely new one. On a scale of one to 10, rate your level of emotion. If an ongoing situation or person scored seven to 10, it is a cue that a boundary is gravely needed.


Boundaries are meant to prevent certain situations and people from damaging our personal well-being. Do not feel guilty if a person scored seven and above. Boundaries are designed to keep toxic people out.