Professional Boundaries: How to Create Them in the Workplace

by laurahusband / last updated June 5, 2019

professional boundaries workplace

Professional boundaries keep your business running smoothly. Liz McKeown shares her tips for implementing a set of key guidelines.

Boundaries involve setting behavioural limits during workplace interactions. It is important to outline what is acceptable workplace behaviour and how this behaviour affects the way staff communicate with one another. You should also establish rules – they are beneficial in the salon because they help team members understand their individual roles and responsibilities.

Well-defined markers will help to clarify individual team member’s roles, understand limits in the workplace and maintain a focus on individual tasks. This means staff will understand each task and who to report to for assistance.

Employers who set boundaries related to breaks, electronic communications and the interpersonal and social environment within the workplace also define acceptable behaviour.  If you introduce a policy that outlines the possible consequences of violating the rules it will help to keep your staff focused on their jobs.

Effective communication

You can use firm boundaries to prohibit inappropriate language or verbal abuse in the workplace. This will help to keep the work environment pleasant and professional. Staff members should be encouraged to speak in a respectful manner that is not condescending or abusive. Effective communication will ensure staff use the appropriate tone and language with one another, which will improve workplace interactions.

Inappropriate behaviour

If you set the rules of conduct for your workplace you will prevent inappropriate behaviour. Codes of conduct define what behaviour is appropriate on the job and what behaviour is unacceptable. Boundaries will also help you to develop procedures for disciplinary action for staff who violate your codes of conduct.

Professional relationships should be personable, but they must be guided by decorum.  Abandoning parameters can create conflict, loss of respect and at times, even embarrassment. In the small business context, this task might be tougher to achieve as salon teams tend to be tightly woven groups. Some salon owners believe you can’t have firm boundaries without sacrificing close working relationships. However, the opposite is actually the case – boundaries actually firm up on grey areas concerning job duties, increasing efficiency and making the salon floor more productive.

Professional boundaries define you and your employees’ limits and responsibilities. As a small business owner, you not only have to monitor your own behaviour but you must also ensure that employees understand and respect the professional boundaries within the team and with their clients.

Creating boundaries in the workplace:

1. Set limits regarding when and how your employees can approach you. For instance, if you need time to yourself, let employees know you won’t be available until after a certain time.
2. Refuse to honour employee requests that create hardship for you or cause you to alter your daily schedule.
3. Assign tasks to employees that you feel comfortable delegating.
4. Deliver disciplinary action to employees that act carelessly or negligently. Part of running a business includes ensuring that employees don’t overstep their professional boundaries.
5. Ensure that all employees know their role and responsibilities within the business and hold them accountable.
6. For success, demonstrate consistency and fairness.

Liz McKeown is a business coach who specialises in the hair industry. For details about business seminars and industry workshops go to

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