It's ok to set boundaries at work

A drawing of people scrambling around a workplace

It's possible to be high performing and set clear boundaries about your role and accountability in the workplace. 

Anyone who has worked as a unicorn or generalist at some point in their career might be used to doing it all, working on all the problems, and applying their skills to a wide range of issues. However, in more defined roles, it can be hard to turn this mentality off. Our instinct is to solve all the problems, even if they are not ours to solve.

It's ok to set boundaries at work. 

It's important for collaboration and effective cross-functional work if everyone knows what they are responsible for delivering.

It's important for productivity if everyone's workload is clearly defined.

It's important for mental health if everyone has manageable expectations.

And it's possible to do without limiting your career (if that's a concern). Here are questions I like to ask on behalf of my team:

  • Are we accountable for solving or delivering that?
  • If we're not accountable, what is our role in solving or delivering that?
  • How much effort should we allocate?
  • Where does this fit within the existing priorities?

Remember: Just because you have the skills to do something, doesn't mean it's within the scope of your current job. 

No one told me this when I was coming up. And I might not have believed them anyway, thanks to hustle culture and my own perfectionism. But I am giving you the benefit of my two burnouts. 

I'm rooting for you.