Setting Healthy Boundaries at Work

“Not My Monkey”

leadership at work - Denver


It happened again. This time, Suzie raised her hand at the company meeting to make a suggestion that genuinely needed the involvement of the purchasing and operations teams. Somehow, the whole project was dumped in her lap. Again.


Suzie was a great problem solver. As a Customer Experience Specialist, she had many ideas for improving the customer experience for her company. She had an innate talent for smoothing out processes and eliminating unnecessary steps that inconvenienced the customer.


For once, Suzie would like to brainstorm with her team, hear the ideas of others, and solve the problem as a team. Here she was again, heading up a project that was out of her scope and with no authority to compel the manager of purchasing or the operations manager to cooperate. She was facing an uphill battle to drag the necessary information out of each manager in order for the idea to succeed.


How did she get herself into these messes?


How could she take a different approach when that little voice in her head muttered, “It’s not my monkey. Get it off my back.”


Suzie was dedicated to continuous improvement, but she hated conflict and confrontation. Her boss, Brad, was friendly and meant well, but he was in over his head and had no time to sort through interdepartmental issues.


What Would You Advise Suzie to Do Differently?

What are the best choices for Suzie next time? Here are a few options:

  1. Stop bringing up ideas and let someone else take the lead on process improvement
  2. Talk to her boss about putting together a cross-department Task Force reporting to one of the managers in Purchasing, Operations, or Customer Success
  3. Talk one-to-one with the people whose help she needs before she introduces an idea at the next meeting to gauge their buy-in and cooperation
  4. Go to her bosses’ manager and complain about the lack of cooperation on the part of her boss and the other managers
  5. Recruit peers to help with implementing plans, as long as it doesn’t interfere with their jobs


What option or options would you choose? Why is that a good option?


Do you have another idea that would help Suzie navigate this communication puzzle and get that monkey off her back? Email Your Answer Here (Subject Line: Not My Monkey)


What is Your Communication Challenge at Work?


This month, I am writing about Communication Mastery. One aspect of communication that comes up frequently is setting boundaries. This topic comes up often in coaching sessions and is universal, affecting professionals from the entry level to the C-Suite.


What questions or challenges have you faced that involve setting healthy professional boundaries?


Here’s to your success in 2018!