Why boundaries are so important in a team situation…
I’ve talked in detail recently about team structure and establishing clear leadership and direction. Boundaries are something I’ve touched upon, if only so anarchy doesn’t rule, but it goes much deeper than that.
Boundaries are important for order, of course. Keeping team members clear on parameters makes achieving objectives easier, and the performance and process less of a headache for the leader and all concerned. But boundaries can also represent any standards and values upheld by each member.
We all would like to believe that we treat others as we’d like to be treated ourselves but this doesn’t always happen – particularly if passion and ambition start to escalate. Standards include such as courtesy and punctuality, without which issues could fester, with some team members feeling less valued than others. Exercising high standards with respect to the treatment of other team members allows the team objective to remain the focus, rather than individual behaviour.
In a team environment it’s natural that individuals will hold different values and beliefs that help us make right and wrong decisions. For example, one person may feel it important that the objective is reached via the shortest route, where others may appreciate the longer journey that allows them to learn from the process and experience. Recognising that each team member will have a unique value system is important: invite everyone to detail what’s important to them, both individually and in a team environment. Knowing people’s individual values will help the team leader to manage expectations and encourage cohesion within the team.
Personal boundaries vs. team boundaries
Personal boundaries can be wildly different between team members, depending on the individual and whether they’re introverted or extrovert. Culturally, there may be huge differences in boundaries and what is or isn’t acceptable behaviour. As individuals become more comfortable in the team environment, it’s likely that some boundaries may change, and challenges may occur.
Team boundaries, however, are shared, outward facing values, more concerned with a team’s brand and how it’s perceived as a single unit, or processes and how a project moves forward.
Boundaries work only if everyone is invested in the team and its progress. Without boundaries the team doesn’t work as a single unit; instead, individuals set their own standards and values that concern only themselves. When people feel valued, they’re more creative and innovative, too.
Once boundaries are set, it’s important they’re adhered to. Otherwise, team trust is at risk as individuals could feel ignored, or that others are receiving preferential treatment. Clear communication and consistent action is vital for a team to look beyond themselves and towards the objective.
The Myers-Briggs model details 16 different personality tools in a team environment, which suggests quite different extremes of personal and team boundaries within a typical group.
As the last blog on this subject, and as a result of my other posts on team building, I hope I’ve outlined my approach that applying a one-dimensional approach to team building and leadership only results in challenges, antagonism and little investment from team members, due, in no small part, to their individual personalities, beliefs and value systems. For bespoke help with the understanding, performance and progression of your particular team(s), contact me on 01302 220221.