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Four Tips on Navigating Healthy Professional Boundaries with Your Team During the Holiday Season

The holiday season is a time of joy, celebration, and often increased demands both personally and professionally. For leaders, maintaining healthy boundaries with their team during this period can be particularly challenging yet crucial. Balancing festive cheer with work responsibilities while respecting boundaries is essential for fostering a supportive and productive work environment.  As a career development and mental fitness coach,  I understand the significance of preserving healthy boundaries to ensure a harmonious work environment.

Here are four insightful tips for leaders to navigate this delicate balance:

1.      Foster Flexibility and Accommodation

First, it is important to know that not everyone celebrates the same holidays, in the same way, or any holidays at all.  A SHMR article encourages leaders to “Realize that people celebrate a variety of holidays during this time of year, and some people choose to celebrate none. Don't make assumptions about people, but on the same note, don't be afraid to ask people what holidays they celebrate. Asking the general question, "What holidays do you celebrate?" can open the line of communication and awareness. Let it be an opportunity to learn about different cultures, religions, and the traditions that are followed.”

In addition, not all folx have similar family obligations. Encourage flexibility by accommodating diverse needs within reason. Offer options for flexible schedules, and remote work if feasible, or consider adjusting deadlines where possible.

A Feminuity article shares some important holiday reminders for leaders. “Not all holidays are happy.  ‍Thinking critically about how we reference, discuss, and practice celebrations is necessary to promote inclusivity.

  • Don’t presume that everyone has a “home” or family members to visit. 

  • Don’t presume that everyone has a nuclear family. “Family” comes in many forms, and for many, chosen families are critical

  • Pressures to give gifts can reinforce classism. Indulging in consumerism is an economic privilege many cannot participate in. Having limited finances to spend during this short period may cause guilt and shame.”


2.      Communicate Expectations Early and Clearly


During the holidays, uncertainty can bubble up regarding work schedules, deadlines, and expectations. As a leader, clarity in communication becomes paramount. It is preferable for leaders to plan and engage in conversations prior to the holiday season and schedule a meeting or send out a memo outlining expectations regarding work hours, availability, and any pertinent deadlines with their teams.  In addition, encouraging open communication among team members to discuss individual needs or concerns is important.

As George Bernard Shaw said, “The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that is has taken place.”

3.      Lead by Example:  Embrace Work-Life Balance

Leaders often set the stage and set the tone for the culture that exists within a team.  And the culture shapes the team's behavior. As a leader, it is incumbent upon you to demonstrate the importance of the work-life balance by respecting your own boundaries. Encourage your team to take time off, recharge, and enjoy the holiday season without guilt. The more that you set the example the more others will feel as though they can set boundaries between work and life responsibilities and pleasures.

As Brene Brown said, “Daring to set boundaries is about having the courage to love ourselves, even when we risk disappointing others.”


4.      Provide Support and Acknowledge Contributions

Acknowledging the efforts of your team throughout the year, especially during the holiday season, is essential. Express gratitude for their hard work and dedication. Offer support where needed and encourage a positive, supportive atmosphere.

"If you want to lift yourself up, lift up someone else." Booker T. Washington

In conclusion, maintaining healthy professional boundaries during the holiday season is essential for you as a leader to foster a positive work environment. By setting clear expectations, modeling appropriate behavior, ensuring inclusivity, and supporting your team, you can navigate the holiday season while ensuring productivity and well-being among your teams.  When incorporating these actionable guidance tips, a stronger working culture can be created.





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