Relationships at Work - Leadership Mindset Guide for Creating a Company Culture We Love

How Soft Skills Establish and Defend Boundaries at Work with Tammy McKinney

May 15, 2023 Russel Lolacher Episode 63
How Soft Skills Establish and Defend Boundaries at Work with Tammy McKinney
Relationships at Work - Leadership Mindset Guide for Creating a Company Culture We Love
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Relationships at Work - Leadership Mindset Guide for Creating a Company Culture We Love
How Soft Skills Establish and Defend Boundaries at Work with Tammy McKinney
May 15, 2023 Episode 63
Russel Lolacher

In this episode of Relationships at Work, Russel chats with CEO, leadership coach and entrepreneur mentor Tammy McKinney on defining and establishing our boundaries at work, including how to defend them.

Tammy shares her thoughts, stories and experience with...

  • A definition of what boundaries are.
  • The difference of boundaries as a reaction vs. proactive.
  • The varying types of boundaries to be aware of.
  • What to do when your culture doesn't embrace boundary setting.
  • How boundaries reflect workplace culture.
  • How to handle when our boundaries are crossed.

If you enjoy the podcast, please subscribe and share with others.
For more, go to relationshipsatwork.ca 

And connect with me for more great content!

Show Notes Transcript

In this episode of Relationships at Work, Russel chats with CEO, leadership coach and entrepreneur mentor Tammy McKinney on defining and establishing our boundaries at work, including how to defend them.

Tammy shares her thoughts, stories and experience with...

  • A definition of what boundaries are.
  • The difference of boundaries as a reaction vs. proactive.
  • The varying types of boundaries to be aware of.
  • What to do when your culture doesn't embrace boundary setting.
  • How boundaries reflect workplace culture.
  • How to handle when our boundaries are crossed.

If you enjoy the podcast, please subscribe and share with others.
For more, go to relationshipsatwork.ca 

And connect with me for more great content!

Russel Lolacher
And look, it's Tammy McKinney, and on the show today, I'm excited to have her. And here's why she is awesome. She is the CEO and lead consultant of Unlocking Your Best Life, a consultancy that provides coaching, training and speaking on leadership, business and personal development. All this through something called the UYes method, you'll have to go to her website to figure that one out. But sounds really interesting. She's also a mentor for entrepreneurs and business owners to help them accelerate their best business and life which I love that interlocking of both of those because truthfully, if you're bad at one, the other one's going to suck. So you really have to balance it out. I love that link. Here's Tammy right here in front of me. How you doing, Tammy?

Tammy McKinney
I'm doing fantastic. Thank you, Russel, thank you for having me. What a fun intro. I feel like I'm just on cloud nine right now. Let's go.

Russel Lolacher
I'm so excited to talk about today's topic of boundaries. Because it is. It's funny, it's one that we've kind of been around on previous episodes, but really not got on to the intricacies of it, the importance of them. The disrespecting of them. So I'm, I'm super excited to get into this. But I have to ask you the first question that I asked all of my guests, which is, Tammy, what's your best or worst employee experience?

Tammy McKinney
Well, I think it's such a great question. And I would say that my answer is this situation is actually both in a lot of ways. So when I was a corporate leader at chemical companies, during the 90s, that was had so many challenges around boundaries, can't even start with that. But the experience specifically is I had a team of 300 people, and we were doing global business redesigns, and we were knocking it out of the park. And I got written up for being too nice for being too nice. And so it really set me back a long way. Because I was young. My mentors, you know, were phenomenal industry leaders. And we were killing it. And I just had to really process that, like, what does that even mean? My people like me, that's a problem. And we're killing it. And so I think it was the worst experience because it really challenged my authenticity for a long time, I tried to develop a persona that would meet their expectations. And I think that that's on point for kind of what we're talking about today, too. But, but I think that in that I also recognize it's working for me, and it's working for my people, and it is who I am. And so you know, nice as a global kind of, or a very broad spectrum term. But at the end of the day, it was it was a horrible experience, because I felt like I couldn't be me 100% anymore. And also, it showed me No, it's working. It just took a long time to grow and heal and process through that. So anyway, yeah, that's it's such a good question. And I have so many other great experiences like all of us to share from but but that one, I think really was the most challenging for me, in my, in my growth journey, I would say, as a leader,

Russel Lolacher
I hate that we've always sort of defined leadership as what you produce, and your results, not the journey to get there and how You've nurtured and supported and been kind to people. So as long if you do this thing, great, but we don't want you to be this other thing. But you still have to produce this thing. And I'm hoping there gets to be more of that balance. Because you can't be too much one way or the other. As a leader, you kind of have to do both, but we ignore the kind one far too much. And again, try to be hopeful that it's tipping tipping a little more in the other direction.

Tammy McKinney
And some industries, it really, really is. And I think that that is the this is why this boundaries topic is so important to because I think that authenticity is the key to really developing the best leaders, teams organizations right now. And people are scared to death to be authentic, for a lot of reasons. So we'll get into that a little bit more.

Russel Lolacher
The boundaries conversation certainly came up a lot more during the pandemic, or at least I felt like it did, because there was a lot more focus on mental health, there was a lot more focus on what you can and can't do. But it kept staying in the personal realm. Right? And then now it's becoming more of a conversation in the workplace. Thank God. Yes, but that's still something that I think we need to define because we see it a lot. But we don't really define what a boundary might be. Can you help?

Tammy McKinney
Yes, for sure. So I think boundaries are just this idea that we are allowed to have limits, right, that protect our well being mental, physical, emotional, you know, everything and our identity. And I think the problem comes in is so many of us are curious about who we are or we're not curious enough about who we are. So we set boundaries that become walls that are just don't hurt me, don't hurt me. Don't hurt me. Don't treat me like that. And we tend to set boundaries out of offense rather than saying, as a defense. I guess it's kind of a way to look at But like I know who I am, I know what's important to me, I know what I need to focus on. And my boundaries are to protect that. Rather than just saying, I'm mad, I'm angry, I'm stressed, I'm overwhelmed. I'm offended. I'm burned out. So here's my walls. Right. And so I think I think it's really important to identify what are healthy boundaries versus what, what are unhealthy boundaries or boundaries, maybe that that are walls that aren't letting your potential and your growth to happen, either. So I kind of have multiple categories of them, we can go into that now or...

Russel Lolacher
I really find it important to define boundaries before we understand what they aren't.

Tammy McKinney
Yes, yes. And I think that so if you think about sort of these categories, so emotional and intellectual boundaries, so this is just honoring, feeling like we are seen and known and heard, right, feeling like we are valued, this whole idea of authenticity. And being valued is so important in the leadership realm. Now, if people do not feel seen and known and valued, they are going to quietly quit, or are the great resignation, right? They're going to leave, they're going to just walk around causing problems. And I think that that was a huge pivot for a lot of people to feel more freedom in that coming out of the pandemic, right, that that that like, Hey, I am really reassessing who I am and what I want to do with my life now. And so I think that there's been this huge self awareness, awakening, I guess, if you will, coming out of the pandemic. And so from that, we start to think, well, I want to be valued, I want to be heard, I want my feelings and ideas to be acknowledged. So. So once we kind of decide that that's important to us, then those intellectual and emotional boundaries become more important, because we're not just going to put up with everything anymore. And like I said, I mean, I grew up in the chemical industry, right, young, white female, I kind of rode that gravy train, I say, because it was an age of like, diversity was out and coming in the middle of nowhere Texas, right, but, but also, really always getting whistled out, and all the things that happened when you were young and a female and a chemical plant. But I had to get clear on what I allowed and what I didn't allow. And so emotionally and intellectually, I was young, and I wasn't super confident. And I think we see that a lot now, especially as we criticize Millennials for their work ethic and this kind of thing. Like, we need to be able to encourage people to step into their confidence in their strengths, so that they can set proper boundaries, because otherwise they're just people pleasing, right, which a lot of us do, we're trying to please our boss, or parents or whatever, just to keep our job even though we're feeling offended or afflicted, or, excuse me, resentful. So the first one that emotional intellectual boundaries, and of course, physical boundaries, physical boundaries are pretty obvious. But you know, just what is that space that you need to perform at your best and really just talking about the definition of boundaries? Again, it's what do you need to put in place to be your best performing your best rested your best take care of your best self. And that's to the benefit of the organization, that's to the benefit of your family as to the benefit of everybody. If you're protecting who you believe your best self is, then they get the best of you, too. So the physical boundaries are, I don't want you to touch me or I don't want you to stand inside my office, it feels intimidating. Or, you know, obviously, there's sexual innuendo and, and some of the other things that can happen, but even at the most basic level level of physical boundaries, you know, do you want to see be seen on camera from waist down? Because most of us don't anymore? Because we're used to being only seen from the neck up. So just what are those physical boundaries, and then priority and workload boundaries is another big one for in the workplace. Specifically, if you're not clear on your priorities, if you're not clear on what is your responsibility, your role in your workload, it's very easy to be taken advantage of, especially when we're talking about teams that are maybe a little bit smaller, right and more intimate and you feel like we're all pulling for the same goal. And we all want to pitch in. But it's important that we're super clear on what our piece of the pie is. Because otherwise, we do start to feel burnt out taken advantage of stressed out, right. So accommodating every single request just for the good of the team will quickly lead to bad results, and feeling unproductive and overwhelmed and all of those things. And so we're talking about physical, emotional, intellectual priority and workload and then time boundaries, you know, time boundaries, we all know when we're at our best. And if we don't, we need to recognize when we're at our best and so for me, I could jump on a client call, anytime no matter how tired I am, it energizes me, I'm going to show up as my best self and you're going to get the best of me. However, when I sit down to study new content and to read it better be in the morning or I won't be asleep. Right and so we get to understand our time boundaries as well as You know, all these other things like when is it that you want to be left alone, so that you can produce your best work, if you're a graphic designer, and you know, your best work is from nine to 11am, then tell people, I don't do meetings during that time, right? That's a great boundary. If you you know, like most of us are writing content, most of us are prepping. And if we, if we allow every text or email or phone call to come in and disrupt that creative time, they're not going to get the best of our product, whatever it is that we're producing. So time boundaries are really important, too. And then just the last one is communication. How do you like to be talked to? How do you like to be approached? How do you like to be communicated? Is it text? Is it email, we know that a lot of us don't really answer our phone anymore, I do not answer my phone, unless it is my child, or an immediate family member who has permission to contact me during certain hours of the day a boundary I have set with my aging parents says Please don't call me between nine and five, I'm not going to pick up the phone. If you're dying, have somebody else texted me and told me that I need to call you back. And that's a terrible sort of thing to say. But it's a boundary for me, because I know emotionally how wrapped up I can get in our conversations, and I don't want it to pull me away from my work, even if I have the time to take the call. That's, that's a boundary that I've implemented because it affects my presence in my work. And so I think we get to look at those things to just what, what methods of communication are best, my mom is not going to text me when she does, they are hilarious. So sometimes it's fun to have, right? So so I know that there are certain people that I can't implement my boundaries fully with the way that I want to. And we get to be flexible in that, too. So anyway, lots of discussion around what are boundaries. But I think the important thing is to know that you can set them in every area of your life. And the goal is ultimately to protect the best version of yourself and what you're trying to accomplish. And that starts with knowing the best version of yourself and knowing what you're trying to accomplish.

Russel Lolacher
Self awareness is absolutely key. But But you've kind of brought up the biggest, well, I guess, elephant in the room, which is where you're talking about being in an industry that even though you were, you know, young, not confident, you weren't in a culture that probably was the most welcoming of somebody coming in there and going, these are my boundaries, they would have laughed at you, then and I don't know if it's 100% changed in every industry. So what do you do about that when the culture can get in the way?

Tammy McKinney
Oh, I think it's such a good question. And I mean, look at health care and mental health right now, these two industries are the most burnt out stressed out and education for that matter, right. And so these are deeply compassionate, giving people, I work with a lot of leaders in these industries, because people are burnt out. And so we have to take responsibility for our own boundaries, we have to take responsibility for our own boundaries, because those industries are stretched so thin right now, there are not enough people to do the work. There are not enough hours in the day to do the work. And so I just want to encourage anybody listening to this, you are responsible for your own boundaries, period. And so from a culture perspective, the culture can be changed. It can be I don't want to say reinvented, it can be re, what do you call it renovated? Right, it can be renovated, but these things aren't going to happen quickly, not when the industries are so stretched thin. And so the way that that happens, the way that culture changes is from the top, it has to be with those leaders. So we need to have more conversations with the leaders. And I just talked to a gal the other day, and she had been hired recently as a VP of HR in an organization and it was healthcare related. And she said, I said what are your three biggest leadership challenges? And she said, communication, dei, and oh, my gosh, I'm gonna forget the other one. Anyway, doesn't matter. But but the point I'll come back to but but the point is, she said, there's just too much bullying from the top. And I said, What? And she said, they're not rewarding people for their work. They're not acknowledging people for what they do. They're burning people out, they're taking advantage, right? They're not honoring their boundaries. And they're coming across. Like, they just don't care about anybody. And this is a nonprofit. And so my coaching to her was, hey, can you go back and just ask the leader, the CEO, why did you start this company in the first place? Because here's the reality. There has never been more stressors in our face 24/7 than there are right now. global social, economic, racial, all of the tensions are interface all the time on social media and everything else and then there's personal just as you lose, alluded to, you know, mental illness is at the top of the charts right now. It used to be five and One, it's now down to three in one in a lot of spaces. And so not only are people affected by mental health challenges, anxiety, depression, their loved ones, their kids, their spouses are affected too, right. And this is true across the board, and now the economy, the threats of the economy. And so, so those executives, those leaders are operating out of fear just as much as the staff is. And so from a culture standpoint, we want to let people feel safe at work, we can't maybe guarantee their job, we can't maybe guarantee or tee their income. But we can set a culture that says you're here on purpose for a purpose, we believe in you, we know you have value to add. And we want to honor human that we want to value that, you know, because some people just quietly quitting that whole idea is that people are showing up, but they're doing the bare minimum to get by. Well, you know, we've got to create a culture where people feel encouraged, equipped, empowered, to do their best at work. And so that includes saying, like, hey, we know that everybody's got special constraints in their life, we know you may have loved ones struggling with mental illness, we know that you may have to take off Fridays, because school districts are going to four days a week, right? We know that work from home is now more of an option than ever. So we need to understand as a leadership as a culture, what is it that is most important to you? We can't honor everything. But as a culture, we really want to know, what are those boundaries that are important, important to you? What are those priorities that are most important to you as an individual, and we will do our very best to honor that. It's an honoring culture, it's of valuing culture, right? And so it's also helping people see like, what are their boundaries? A lot of the work I do I go in, and I'm working with a leadership team, and they are so burned out the last workshop I did, I said, What's your number one takeaway we were working on? Prioritizing and time management and their number one priority for over 50% of the room was self care. Right? They had no idea how to do it. They didn't know how to get that work life balance back, right. And that's a boundary. But in a lot of cases, we need to bring in expertise. I have a I have in my company, I have somebody that's an expert in self care. So I said, Okay, great. I'm gonna bring her in, and I'm going to talk to you What does self care even look like and boundaries. The best thing I ever heard years ago was boundaries is self care. It is, you know, it's not Manny's, and Petty's in a bubble bath all the time, right. It's like honoring that best version of yourself. It's really what boundaries are all about? So kind of answers...

Russel Lolacher
It does. But it also is the culture that I hear could probably be the biggest challenge with this is the hierarchical ones. Because it's very top down, they'll talk a good game when it comes to boundaries, and even talking about innovation. And then they don't want to change how they do things. Love that. But the thing is, you bring up a VP, and that VP wants to change. But then all of a sudden, this fire drill mentality comes out. And I see it the most with hierarchical organization, where it's like boundaries are great until my boss needs a thing right now. Yes, right. It's all good to talk about boundaries until you have to enforce them or they have to be respected. Up until then you can talk boundaries all day of the week. So as a leader or a manager, how do you go about respecting those boundaries?

Tammy McKinney
I think it all comes down to communication, right? It all comes down to communication. First of all, you have to know what they are. Ask your people ask your people say these are the non negotiables. In this company, it's bringing the right people into is making sure we have the right people on the bus as they say. And so it's it's having clear mission clear vision, clear values, those non negotiable values for the company. And making sure the people you bring in are in alignment with those core values, whether the core values are work life balance, or they're or they're just strictly bottom line, right? People need to know coming in what they're signing up for. And we don't do a good job of that ever. Whether it's in relation to personal relationships, or at work, but you know, just saying like, this is what my non negotiables are. And this is the vision of where we're going. So getting that clear up front so that when people say yes, and they're on board, they're saying, Okay, I'm on board, I'm willing to buy into that. And here are my boundaries, here is what I'm willing to do to help you accomplish that vision to help you achieve the goals of this company, to help you establish that kind of culture. So again, we get to take responsibility for that. And then giving the leadership the opportunity to say that's not going to work for us here that you know, if you say I can never work a Saturday, that's a hard boundary for me. At the onset, we need to be able to say you know what, we absolutely have to work one Saturday a month, that's just what we do. And then there can be a negotiation. But at the end of the day, the employee needs to feel free to walk away and the boss needs to feel free to say you're not a good fit. And so that's part of it right from the get go. But of course we have all these organizations full of people and we're trying to adjust culture. And so it's finding out which ones are not negotiable and which ones are flexible. You And I think that we all have values. And we all have boundaries that are negotiable and somewhat negotiable than those that are not negotiable, right? And so, again, it comes back to knowing yourself knowing what's most important. And not being offended in the process. Like just being able to say this is a non negotiable for me not get emotional about it when it gets crossed. But to remind people like, hey, we agreed early on that Saturday's weren't going to work for me. And I understand that this is a really important event that you'd like me to be present at. And it's possible actually, that this Saturday, I could make an exception, but I want to restate my boundary that I don't do Saturdays like as a routine thing. So. So even when you do need to make an exception to your boundary, assuming that you've already communicated that it's already been reinforced by your actions, like you don't say, I don't work Saturdays, and then you keep showing up on Saturday, right? You've got to reinforce it. And then you set up those structures that say, Hey, because I don't come on Saturdays, these are the additional hours I'm willing to work, or these are the additional tasks I'm willing to take on. For the good of the team. Don't just say I don't do Saturdays, don't ask me, we get to really step into it and say, Okay, how is this best for me? But also, how is this best for the greater good for my family, for my team at work for my boss, and then when they get crossed? Because they do when those boundaries get crossed? We don't over justify, we just say you like we don't over defend, we just say, Hey, you remember, like Saturdays are not my thing. So if this is something that I really need to reconsider that then then I'd like to have a discussion about that don't say, Well, you know, on Saturdays, I always take my kids to this, and it's my weekend. Right? We don't go in and over justify it, we just remind people like what is our boundary. And then again, when you make an exception, just reinforce the boundary. So you know, this is a one time thing, or this is not something I want to see as a normal habit. And just don't take it personally. Like, we think people think about us so much more than they actually do. I mean, people really don't think about us as much as we think they do. Right? So just because somebody doesn't remember you don't do Saturday's don't take it personally, they're so caught up in whatever's happened on Saturday that they're trying to fulfill, you know, maybe it's an event or whatever, right. And then this whole Saturday thing, that may be a weird example, but it's a good example, it's an easy example to relate to, and then offer alternatives, just like I was saying, to say, hey, you know, I really can't be there on Saturdays. And it's especially important that I'm not there between nine and one. But hey, if there's some setup early, or if there's some cleanup later, you know, I could definitely be a part of that team. Or if there's work I can do ahead of time, I would love to offer that as an alternative to me showing up on Saturday. And so I think that, again, it's our personal responsibility, don't assume that everybody's going to remember your boundaries, don't assume that everybody's going to honor them. Right. And then as a culture, be a part of the change that says boundaries are okay, but don't show up and go, I don't work Saturdays, if you keep doing that, you just might leave me you know, don't don't do the whole personal offense thing, do the look, I'm going to show up as my best self when I'm here. And this is part of what I need to be my best self in this workplace and be a part of this team and move us where we're going.

Russel Lolacher
I like that you linked it to the employee journey, almost where it's onboarding is where you really set that, whether it's in the interview process, whether it's in the you know, accepting an offer process, and then boundaries change, like that soccer game that you step to take your kid to, you don't have to anymore because they moved on to another sport, or they didn't do it anymore. But that just has to be organically communicated, which is where those relationships matter most, which you hopefully have established and communicated through. But I'd even challenge people to go one step further, when you apply for a job, check to see what the values of the organization are, check to see what the requirements of the job are, because then you can't go into the job with negotiating go. But I have boundaries, when it's been properly communicated with the requirements of the job are. What is HR's role in all of this?

Tammy McKinney
Oh, that's a that's a tricky question. So as I said, this gal I was talking to she was actually hired like a VP of HR, and she was like, my hands are completely tied. These employees have not had reviews and seven years, so they haven't had equitable pay for the last seven years. And in this, that, and the other and so so on some level, you would hope. I said, Well, what were you brought in to do? And she's like, I don't know, that's a good question. I said, No, really? What were what did you think you were being hired to do? And she said, I thought I was being brought in to improve communication, increase our dei actions, not just ticking dei boxes and for anybody that doesn't know what I'm saying diversity and inclusion and all of those efforts to to make things more equitable for every age and gender and race and all the things right so So I think from an HR standpoint, HR gets to really work with that leadership and say, Guys, if we don't honor and value our people, if we don't create a culture where people feel known, seen, respected and honored, we are not going to hire the best people. And so in this case for this gal Anna of certainly not going to say what company it was but my encouragement to her, because she'd only been there a month or two, maybe six months. I'm trying to remember now I've talked to so many people, but But I said, go back and find out why did she start this company? What is her vision for the company? What are her stakeholders expecting? Where are the priorities right now? And then ask her? Can you achieve those things with the people that you have? Period. And she'll say, oh, no, they're lazy. They complain that it? Would you like to do something about that? Because what I see as an HR professional, in this case, these people are not performing because of XYZ, because we don't honor their boundaries, because we don't honor them as human beings, because we haven't given them equitable pay. Right? So you've got to go back kinda to the why, as they say, go back to the vision of what we're trying to create and the priorities and the goals and then say, is it working? Or is it not? I mean, we overcomplicate this so much. And so as an HR professional to be able to say, it doesn't seem like that's working for your organization, because people are leaving, you're not able to hire good people. And oh, by the way, on what is it Glassdoor, that app where you can rate a company before you go work for them, your reviews are terrible, nobody's ever going to want to come work here, because your former employees are bashing the heck out of how you treat people. Right. So HR can get involved from that standpoint, I mean, their role. Unfortunately, she was feeling like her role was just to check a DEI box. That's why she was there at all. But assuming that you are there for a purpose to serve an HR role, your role is to get the ear of the of the leadership, right, whether it's a board of directors, or the C suite, or whoever it is, and say guys is this doesn't seem to be working, here's what we get to look at. Right. And then by the same token, another young man who very young man, and he is the CEO of a startup, and I'm going to say he's in his late 20s. And his boss is in his 60s and his boss custom out in front of his team the other day, straight up, cost him out. And so I was coaching him around this. And I said, you know, it's the same thing, go back and ask him, Why did you start this company? And what do you actually want this company to be? Before you just go in and go, Dude, you can't be cussing me out in front of my guys, like, they're not going to stick around, we have to get the emotion out of it. And we have to go back to what is working and what is not and why. And get underneath that, why and then address it from there. And so I think that regardless of your role, if you want to change culture, culture, if you want to be an environment where people are going to stick around and give their best period, boundaries is just one little piece of it, but they, knowing what the company boundaries are, and then knowing what the employees boundaries are and finding that middle ground where we can work together and be our best organization period. You know, kind of my mantra is we create happier, healthier, higher performing leaders in organizations. And it's kind of from that mantra, if mama ain't happy, nobody's happy, right? Because it has to start at the top. So if there's a grumpy old CEO, cussing people out, what's his problem? What's he got going on? Why is he feeling that way? Maybe he's feeling threatened by these people and his cussing people out of his way to power position himself, inappropriate 100%. But this kid, I say, kid, I shouldn't even say that. But this young man that's in an executive role, he's the CFO needs to be able to go back and say, Dude, we're on the same team. Like, what's up? Why you treat me like that? What's going on? Why are we doing what we're doing. And if I'm not a good fit, that's fine. But you don't get to speak to me like that, again, back to the communication boundary, that is not going to work for me to show up as my best and my team is not going to want to be in a place that's treated like that.

Russel Lolacher
I hear a lot of what you're saying. And I know a lot of people listening might be going, well, that's great. If you're in a union, that's great. If you have you know, well, I have protection, I have support when it comes to me reinforcing my boundaries. But then you get to a certain level in an organization where you're kind of expected to do whatever you're told whenever you're told, because that's just the way things work. If you want to be at this level, is it still a communications challenge when you're up at that level? Or is there something else you should be looking at?

Tammy McKinney
I think it really is a communication challenge, but I think it's also checking yourself. Are you actually walking around offended? Or are you actually maintaining your own boundaries? Because oftentimes, we do not consider alternatives to our behavior, because we we just keep doing what we've always done. We keep doing what the boss expects, we keep doing what our team expects. Right and this at the top, fundamentally at the top The biggest problem is very lonely at the top, we hear that all the time the leaders, they don't feel like they can be authentic, they don't feel like they can say yes, I am scared of, you know, desegregation in my workplace, I am scared to put women in those positions like in their authenticity, the top of the house, every level of leadership needs to be able to say, they have fears too. And so oftentimes, they don't feel like they can be authentic at work and at home. And so they are posing, I guess, if you if you will, for what they think everybody else expects. And so even, even in those leadership roles, I mean, it doesn't matter what kind of organization you're in, you've got to check yourself, like, Do I even have my own personal boundaries? Do I even know what's important to me? And on some level, you kind of do? Because how do you know when your boundaries are crossed? Let's talk about that for a second, like how do you know, right? This is when you feel taken advantage. If you feel that resentment, you feel unsatisfied with your job or, or your marriage or your home life or whatever, right? That's how we know our boundaries are being crossed. And so it's important that we implement personal practices to say, How am I feeling? Really, and this is what as a coach, your coach can do, right? If you have an executive coach, or any other kind of life coaching or business coach, you know, how are you feeling about it? Really? Is it working for you? And checking yourself? Because if it's not the first thing to check is, has a boundary been crossed? Do you feel like you're taken advantage of? Do you feel like nobody cares? Do you feel like you're undervalued? And if so, why? What area of life is it because you think people are judging you for your weight? Is it because you think that when that person comes in your office, you always feel intimidated? Is it because you feel like you're too kind, you're too nice, you're too much of a softy and people get away with everything, right? Because even as the boss, we can be too nice as I was written up for being right, and feel like people are taking advantage of us. And so there's nothing wrong with being nice. There's nothing wrong with being kind in. And of course, my example at the beginning of the show, I was very young. I was I was in my late 20s. And I had people in their 50s. And 60s had had always done things a certain way. Like I was not good with my boundaries at home at work anyway, right? I was just like trying to please everybody everywhere, but also trying to show up as my best self and be like, Look at me, I deserve to be here in this role. And so I think that anybody emerging leaders, you know, top of the house, we just got to check ourselves like, do we know who we are at our best? Do we know how we want to show up? And are we doing everything we can to grow into that and then protect it with our boundaries. And so, so much of the C suite leadership, they don't feel like they can say no, either. And they feel like they've got to be worth, I'll just give you an example to another company I've been working with. And so this is 25 leaders in a room or something like that. And then their boss, the director, VP, whatever it is, they're talking about this issue of of like being overworked and stressed out and not being able to keep up and too much going on. And they have a lot of compliance to meet. But as we started digging deeper into it, I started hearing about the emails coming in at 2-3-4 in the morning. And I looked at the leader and I said you got to stop. And he said, What do you mean? And he said, they don't have to answer me. We have to remember that as the leader. Our leadership is all in our role modeling. We know that as parents, if we try to say Do as I say not as I do, it does not work. It does not work in the workplace, either. Like you've got to stop sending those emails at four o'clock in the morning and saying it's okay. You don't have to answer me. I was happy that after a year, one of them came back to me and said, hey, you know, I quit doing that. I only send emails after I wake up in the morning. She said sometimes I write him at four in the morning, but I quit sending them because my team started to feel like they also so it trickles down, right everything we do trickles through the organization. And so what we role model is what is going to eventually be picked up unless people are really good at their own boundary. So we get to say, You know what, I'm not going to do that because I want to honor people's boundary that I don't believe they need to be answering at four in the morning, just because I did we can't just tell them that we have to show them that.

Russel Lolacher
So worst case scenario, you're protecting your boundaries. You're been Trotec trying to protect them for a long time and nobody seems to care that you keep getting those emails at 4am Even though you're not supposed to answer them. People are still like feeling they have to because they have 17 emails when they come in in the morning looking at their you know outlook. What do you do when it's just never going to be respected and you don't see any light at the end of the tunnel?

Tammy McKinney
Well, and just like this HR VP that I was saying had been brought into this organization. I just asked her I said do you believe your You're there on purpose for a purpose. And she said, yeah, she said, I'm actually a woman of faith. And I do believe that. And for other reasons, she said, because I know my knowledge, my skills, my abilities, my expertise can change this place for the better that we can make this company, this nonprofit is here to make a big difference in the world. And I know that I can affect that change. And so my encouragement to her was, are you willing to do that? Or do you need to walk away, because you also get to protect your own mental emotional, well being by saying, it's not a battle I can fight in the season right now, I shared with you, I think, you know, my kids have been hospitalized 15 times in the last six years, I did not have capacity to fight a lot of battles, I did not have capacity to take on things that my heart so desperately wanted to affect change, you know, different things in different organizations and different things in my community, and so on and so forth, we have to know that our boundaries can also shift and pivot based on what our needs are in that season of life. Sometimes we are in survival mode, sometimes we are in crisis management, again, there's never been a time when personal stressors and economic, you know, global stressors are higher, everybody is undergoing stress, everybody has some level of stress on them, unless you live in a quiet little bubble somewhere, but especially if you're in the workplace, you know, and so we have to recognize that sometimes, in those situations, when it feels hopeless, it might be because our capacity, we can't see taking it on. But there's other seasons where we can say, you know, I really think I can affect change here. And so my challenge to this lady that I was working with was, are you willing to get the CEOs ear, for the good of the people in that company and the work they're doing in the world and try to affect change? Are you feeling like you're not the one to do it right now. Because you get to decide whether to stay and make it a better place, whether you get to stay and just feel like your work doesn't matter, or you get to choose to walk away and do something else. And I think, you know, we live in such a culture, where walking away is what has become the norm in too many situations, in our marriages, in our education systems. And, you know, there's a lot of good reasons to end a marriage or to end or to end a friendship. I'm not saying that there's not I'm not saying that don't hear me saying that at all. I actually went through divorce myself a few years ago, but but at the end of the day, it's easier to walk away. And so the question is, if you know yourself, and you believe you are where you are on purpose for a purpose, do you want to take it on? Do you have the capacity to go to leadership and say, Guys, we're doing amazing things in the world, but we cannot continue to do them. If you are continuing to cross people's boundaries, if you're continuing to not honor people, you know, and the word boundaries, there's so many ways to talk about boundaries without saying you're not honoring people's boundaries, right? To be able to say, you know, people do not feel respected and honored. Well, I like them, why don't they know I like them. And that's when you come in with very specific examples and say, Well, you know how you're always asking them to work on Saturday, or you're always sending that email in the middle of the night. I know to you, that doesn't feel like you're crossing a boundary. But given your position in the organization, and given their position in the organization, that's kind of crossing a boundary that's kind of leading in a way that makes them feel like they should be they're not good enough, they're not doing enough. And so out of respect for our people, there are some things some practices that we maybe could look at that make people feel like they're more valued, we have to clearly communicate expectations. And we we get to allow our people to clearly communicate their expectations, especially around this idea of boundaries.

Russel Lolacher
And on that, I have to ask you the last question, Tammy, which is what's one simple action people can do right now to improve their relationships at work?

Tammy McKinney
Are you committed to your well being? Do you know what that means? And are you committing committed to knowing the best version of yourself at work for this example at work? And have you clearly communicated that have you clearly communicated not to go in and go okay, here's my list of boundaries. Here's what I'm gonna do. Here's what I'm not going to do. But to be able to clearly communicate with your upline whatever that looks like and say, You know what, I am so on board with the mission and vision of this company. And that's maybe that's the first step and I am so on board with the values of this company. And I really believe to show up as my best self here. These are some things that I've seen have been affecting my performance they have been affecting my job satisfaction. And I would like to talk to you about what, what could possibly shift a little bit that would make me feel more valued here. Because it is our personal responsibility. It is our personal responsibility to be able to say what works for us and what doesn't at work at home everywhere. I obviously I'm very passionate about boundaries. I know what it feels like to have them crossed extensively. And I know what it looks like when I have crossed other peoples and it didn't work out well. And so I think for each one of us, we get to really consider that how well are you establishing your own and how well are you honoring other people's, especially in the workplace as we talked about this?

Russel Lolacher
That's Tammy McKinney. She is the CEO and lead consultant of Unlocking Your Best Life. Thanks so much for being here. Tammy. Appreciate it.

Tammy McKinney
Thank you. I've loved it.