Setting Boundaries Can Cause Flak in Business and at Work


When I was first trained in Change Management at the beginning of my HR career, the instructor used a military metaphor to explain the stress experienced (and caused) by those who resist change:  the closer you get to the target (e.g., enacting the change), the more flak you receive from those folks who oppose the change.

Setting boundaries in business and at work is change that you can absolutely expect to be resisted with an abundance of flak, including but not limited to:

  • Rolling out a new policy;
  • Communicating to a vendor that they have not held up their Service Level Agreement;
  • Making past-due Accounts Receivable calls;
  • Enforcing a smoke-free campus policy;

to name a few flak-inducing changes.

Of course, communicating such changes should be done with the utmost compassion and respect. However, acceptance that resistance to change and its accompanying flak is an inevitable result to plan for and proactively manage is more than change management – it’s change leadership. And when we plan to respond compassionately to stakeholder flak with a customer-service focus – rather than reacting personally and emotionally, or even worse, avoiding setting any boundaries all together, which only makes a bad performance situation worse – we can best support the needs of everyone throughout the change and the flak.

How will you plan to effectively, compassionately and courageously respond to the flak that always comes with setting boundaries / enacting change, in business and at work?

Red dart on a gold target with text on it. The concept of opportunity right choice.

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