Relates to anyone driving the Change Agenda
This relates to both external and internal consultants, project managers, facilitators, trainers or anyone else working together to bring about organisational change.
My preferred working style has always been to restate goals as defined outcomes. If a client has difficulty defining the outcomes of a process or event, then that will lead to ambiguity further along the line. My colleagues agreed. So, I decide to write a little on it today and this follows under the next section.
I was so drawn by the subject, I wrote and published an article on this entitled ‘Psychological Contracting’ and if you’d like a copy, of this you can access it at the end of this page.
Setting Personal Boundaries
We’d like to think that we do this automatically – but largely this is an assumed and often ‘unconscious’ decision that we make, but often fail to enforce.
Personal boundaries extend to all areas of life, such as personal relationships, working with others, health, love, nutrition, sex – but I am going to focus on professional relationships.
You know if something is wrong if your personal boundaries are breached from these examples:
- Not speaking up when you should
- Adopting another’s ideas so to be accepted
- Saying ‘yes’ when you want to say no
- Failing to assert your rights and your needs in favour of others
- Letting your personal standards slip and agreeing to things which don’t fit in with the way you are happy to do things.
- Feeling guilty or apologising when you do eventually say ‘no’.
- Failing to deal with someone who transgresses your boundaries
- Allowing people to say or do things to you that make you uncomfortable
- Allowing yourself to be interrupted or distracted to accommodate another person's immediate wants or needs.
- Giving too much, just to be perceived as useful or to be liked
- Becoming overly involved in others’ solutions to difficulties, when they should take ownership for that change to happen
- Acting against your values and integrity in order to fit in or please others
Create and define positive personal boundaries
Personal boundaries are lines drawn in the sand. Often, they are unconscious markers about how you will work with others. Professionally, they are there to deal with creating positive working relationships and they are also there to protect you. These are activities, behaviours, deeds and even words and phrases depict how we will work together. Generally speaking we all have flexibility to deal with little transgressions but there may come a time when these become unacceptable, and if and when they happen, you have to take action.
Don’t let it go
If you let others overstep your boundaries or assumptions collectively agreed, you will feel uncomfortable because our boundaries define who we are, what we stand for and how we view our working relationships with our clients and partners.
It’s too easy to let this go. Some of our boundaries are inviolate and we should not let them go, whereas others can be viewed flexibly, as long as they are not constantly challenged on a regular basis.
Your Clients and the Psychological Contract
If you don’t define and adhere to your boundaries, you are not serving your client. If you have not yet identified your boundaries or defined them to clients, you may experience their not taking ownership for changes they should lead, clients taking advantage of your supportive nature, difficulty speaking up or saying "No" without upsetting others. This also creates a degree of emotional uncertainty when you should be raising key issues to ensure that the assumptions and ways of behaving that bind you together are shared and owned.
‘Ownership’ is the major factor here as clients fail to listen for their best intent, and drive forward with their own ill-considered agenda. It is so easy to roll over and not challenge the agenda of the client and serve them well by just going along with things. This is what leads to most ambiguity and unconscious conflict in client vs. consultant relationships.
Beliefs, boundaries, standards, rules
The things you know you need to say "No" to are based on your personal and professional beliefs on working with your client. These should be articulated and shared consciously if you are going to work well and deliver the project. Projects fall down because ‘boundaries’ are assumed, or never questioned, debated and then agreed. It’s important that your boundaries and standards reflect your professional core beliefs and values of how the world should operate when doing business with others. You need to define your boundaries to others to ensure there is synergy in how you can and should do business.
If you are interested in the issues relating to the client consultant relationship boundary issues then you might want to also access this published article and please let me know your views. firstname.lastname@example.org
(Please note the in the article below the publisher 'Train the Trainer' printed it to read in the following order P1, P3, P4 and then P2 to accommodate the full formatted A5 pull-out version of the piece - 4 pages in total.)