In today’s work culture, maintaining boundaries and a balance between workload demands and close relationships with our team can be difficult but its not impossible. While strong teamwork is essential for the overall success of a business or project, personal boundaries need to be established in order to ensure goals are met in a timely and efficient manner. The following quote is from Facebook Group Member Valarie and her question revolving around just this challenge:

Knowing your direct reports well without overextending yourself. Patrick Lencioni talks about anonymity leading to job misery and I agree with this. I know my large team fairly well. Recently implemented middle managers as team leads due to there not being enough of me to go around. I want to continue to foster relationships with the new employees so that I will have the same level of relational vibe that I have with most of my team. I am struggling with ways to do this as it takes a lot of time. I know it doesn’t have to; however, I am finding that once I open the door to getting to know them more, they want more and more time with me and so I am wondering about ways to provide better communication and clarity in those earlier meetings as I think I may be unintentionally creating the impression that I am available to them more often than my time allows or that I was initially available and now I’m not as available and that can be confusing and send a message I am not intending to send.

For context, I’m in my 4th year of leadership and I have a team of about 20. They all reported directly to me until January so I am wondering if some of this is just the shifting that’s occurring.

Thanks in advance!!

Question from Valarie

So lets dive into how I believe that its best for leaders to tackle this challenge with a number of tactical pieces of advice for her!


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The following is an AI generated transcript which should be used for reference purposes only. It has not been verified or edited to reflect what was actually said in the podcast episode. 

Yes. Welcome. One. Welcome. All It is your Chief leadership officer, Scott McCarthy. It’s so good to have you here. And I’m back from vacation. I don’t know if your tracking up, but I spent a week in lovely, sunny and most importantly, warm Mexico. So for all the Mexican listeners out there, thank you for your hospitality. You have such a lovely country, especially this time of year for us. Frigid, freezing Canadian, so week off solid recharging the batteries. And if you haven’t taken a vacation lately as a leader, you might want to consider that, you know, it’s just so good, so good for the body, so good for the soul just to take some time off, recharge and actually come back more effective. And that’s where I’m at right now. So enough about that. Today’s episode, we’re going to talk about boundaries between you and your team members. If you’ve been want listening to the show any time, You know, I’m a huge advocate for being there for your team, taking care of your team, so on, so forth. That being said, you have work to do. I get it. You have reports, you have your T.P.S. reports, you to fill out, you have Excel Docs, you need to work whatever, right? Whatever your job is, maybe you need to do sales calls, who knows? But moral stories this you have work to do. And yes, being there for your team is definitely part of the job. But you have other aspects of the job too. And this question came up actually in our free Facebook group. And if you’re not part of this group, you can just simply go to lead, Don’t pass Ford’s group on Facebook. It’s called Leadership Skills for Managers to Be Leaders, not Bosses. So this question popped up. And, Valerie, thanks for the question, by the way. I truly appreciate it. And as well, I appreciate your discussions that you have in the group. But I mean, let’s let’s jump in here knowing your direct reports. Well, with out overextending yourself, Patrick Lynn, So seniority, I have no idea if I spot that or pronounce that name right. But anyway, Patrick talks about anatomy leading to job misery. And I agree with this. I know my large team fairly well recently implemented middle managers as team leads due to their not being enough for me to go around, I can totally empathize with you on that one. Valerie. Okay, she continues. I want to continue to foster relationships with new employees so that I have the same level rational vibe that I have with most of my team. I am struggling. Ways to do this is it takes a lot of time. I know it doesn’t have to. However, I’m finding that once I open the door to getting to know them more, they want more and more time with me. So I’m wondering about ways to provide better communication. And clearly in those earlier meetings, as I think I may be unintentionally creating the impression that I’m available to them more often than my time allows or that I was initially available, I am now not as available that can be confusing and send a message. I am not intending to send. So for context, I’m in my fourth year of leadership and have a team of about 20. They’ve all reported directly to me until January. So I’m wondering if some of this is just shift is just the shifting that is occurring. Thanks in advance, Valerie, This is Valerie again. Thank you for your question. This is absolutely a common place. You’re not alone. That’s the good news, right? The good news is you’re not alone. The second good thing is you’ve already started to form your own solution here, right at the end. Yes, there is definitely some of we will call it growing pains going on. Okay.
And that is because you’ve changed the structure of your team before all 20, by the way, there’s a ton of direct reports. Don’t really recommend it, but you had a team of 20 reporting to you. Now you’ve made some changes. Your team leads. Awesome. And you know, before person was directly reporting you, but now they have a team lead in between you and them. So if in the past you were always open available to them, but now you have this team leader, it’s going to take a little bit of time. So here are a few thoughts from me about this whole situation. And for any leader out there, how you go about making sure that you’re there for your team, but don’t extend yourself. And these are just suggestions. Typically choose which ones work for you, which may not work for you. Maybe tweak a little bit. I am never going to say this is the one size fits all solution because that doesn’t exist, especially leadership. So here we go. So the first thing is you have team leads now. Awesome. What you need to do is make sure they’re empowered, make sure they’re the ones who are interacting with their teams on a day to day basis. So effectively, what you want to achieve is, is pushing your team leads to be how you work with their teams. It is now up to them to be the ones who are there day in, day out with their teams, seeing their teams, talking to their team members, making sure they’re all good, hearing any complaints or any concerns, what have you. They’re the ones that need to be doing this constant face to face interaction with their team members. If you haven’t picked up, I’ve been really emphasizing their their team members, their teams. It is now their teams. You’ve chopped your team up into sub teams. So let’s say you have four middle managers and you say there’s about 20. So let’s say there’s 20 plus you. So 21 a part of your whole team, you know, you included to have four team managers. That means they have four subordinates each. Okay? They’re responsible to know the intimate details of their four people day in, day out. Okay? You need to empower them to make sure they’re doing that. Now, as you go through this transition, as you move, obviously, people are still going to come to you because you’re their you were their superior before their direct supervisor. Now you’re not changes hard more. What I would suggest to you is in a very
calm and, you know, supportive way is that when these subordinates come to you, my first question to them, if I was in your shoes, would be, did you talk to your team lead? And if their answer is no, then support your team leads you. I need you to talk to your team lead because they and I need to be on the exact same page. So if you bypassed them and you come to me and they have concerns that I’m not aware of, then that’s going to take us off the same page, which is not going to be good or helpful to anyone. Okay, Support your team leads, but support your people at the same time. You’re not saying no to whatever they’re asking or that you’re closing the door on them. However, what you’re doing is redirecting them where they should be going in the first place, which is now the team leads. So as you go through this and you have like your team meetings and stuff like this and you have you have a large group, but at the same time it’s still relatively small. You’re talking about 20 people. It’s large to be the supervisor of 20 people to rack. But now that you have some team leads, it’s going to be a lot easier to manage and as well as you can get the team together. So what you can easily do is get the team together in, you know, effort, emphasize, empathize or empathize with them.
That you understand where they’re coming from. You understand the growing pains. This is not you being angry, upset or calling people out. However, this is how we’re going to move forward. Is that yes, you’re still available? Yes. You still care about your team? Yes. You’re still going to see your team and talk to your team and so on, so forth. But their first stop needs to be their new team leads all right. And then what you’re going to do is your team members, you know, the subordinates, the team members are going to slowly start going to their team leads with all of these things, which, of course, is going to free up your time. And then if you empower your team, leads to deal with the situations to handle them, to take care of them, they’ll get properly to them. You’re going to find that the demands on you will get less, which will then in turn free up your time to think strategically for your team. Okay, So these are some ideas right now for you on, you know, right now kind of communication. All right. So let’s talk about a few other tactical things you can do. And that is, you know, when you get new people in. Yes, you’re absolutely meet with them, talk to them. However, manage the expectations, just like I said. So as you sit with the new person, you talk to them and you interview them on the first day or whatever, get to know them, then what you do is you explain the expectations. The expectation is, is that they bring their issues to their team. Yes, you were available,
but they bring their issues to their team, leads first by coming to you direct after team leaders unavailable for such reason, maybe you can say, okay, you know, and it’s super important. Yes. Feel free to come to me. But Team Lead is their first point of contact. Okay, So when you have people coming, that’s how you can kind of handle that. Now, I feel, you know, the leadership flowing out of you in that you want to be there for your team members. And more importantly, what I feel out of your texts here is that you want to be there and you want them to believe that you’re there for them.
And you can definitely still achieve this. Okay? You can definitely still achieve this. One way is simply not spending 100% of your time in your office. Okay. Take a little bit of time throughout the week. I don’t know exactly to lay out me if you’re an office building. Okay. This depends, but I’m going to give you a story. When I was a commander of a unit of 200, we were spread across nine buildings, were divided up into basically four sub teams of that 200 member team each had, you know, three of them had about 60 to 70 people each. The other one was smaller, around ten, and we were spread across nine different buildings. So it’s hard, just like you want to have a connection with like people want to know them, want to hear what’s going on, so on, so forth. So that said, every week I made sure to get out of my office and go walk to floor, go visit a few of the different buildings, especially the ones I didn’t work in. Okay. All right. And walk the floor and talk to the people and go around and see how things are going. And that enabled me to keep that connection. It was like an hour a week. I would take, you know, can you spare in a whole week? My and my my assumption is, yes, you probably can, because you’re probably spending more than an hour a week right now. Okay. And then as different issues popped up with our team members, you know, I made sure that their team leads were enabled to handle it. And if they felt like they didn’t have it or it was outside their scope or whatever, it would come up to me eventually. And then from there we would work on the solution together for the member. Okay, but this is a kind of way how you get home management some people refer to as management by walking around. I just call it walking the floor and that is getting out from your desk and being seen talking to people and you know, just see how things are going down. The biggest thing here is try to avoid the work, talk now with your people. You probably want to have the work, talk with them, see how things are going, stuff like this. But same time and I’m sure you’re doing this based off the tone I get out of your text is, you know, how’s family life going? Because it impacts our work too, right? And see how their life is going and how things are going with them, so on and so forth, genuinely care for them. And when people see you doing this and feel you actually being there for them and caring about them, they’ll understand that you don’t have time to have your door open for them every single minute of the day. Hmm. Okay. And then the final bit of advice I have for you, Valerie, is if all else fails, you know, this kind of goes against
what I like to call open door policy, per se, where people can come by any time and say, hey, I need to talk. But blocking time off and say that you’re unavailable if you’re having a hard time, you know, to keep up with what you need to do, because in the end that’s going to affect your team as well. How time blocking is a great tactic, great strategy, one to which many members of our mastermind community, the leader growth mastermind, implement it. When we went through this as part of the content we did back in the spring, I believe, last year. So you can look into time blocking and saying, okay, I’m available from this time to that time, or I’m more importantly unavailable during these times. And that’s when you kind of kind of focus on whatever it is you need to do. So maybe that tactic can help you too. But I would suggest that’s probably the last very last ditch effort per se. So I hope these different suggestions for you work again. You know, look at them, overlay your situation to them. How might it work? Who knows? You didn’t give me exactly a lot of detail about how your team is structured. Are are you a remote team or you’re not remote team or hybrid team? Are you spread across multiple locations or not or together? You know, these different things, all these different factors play in.
So the world story is here. You need to take your actual situation, overlay the advice I’ve just given you, and then to decide what’s best for you. And ladies and gentlemen, this goes for everyone who’s listening here for that, and not just Valerie. Okay, So if you find yourself in a very similar situation, do exactly that. Overlay this advice to your situation and, you know, see what works. And guess what? You can always tweak. You can always change. All right? You can always change because that is adaptive leadership and that’s what we do. Okay, Louise, gentlemen, thank you for tuning in. Thank you for listening. Appreciate you all as always. Lead don’t dumbass and take care now

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