Productive Supervisors Set Healthy Boundaries

Heather is a wonderful graphics designer and communications consultant who recently started her own business. In an effort to gain clients and build credibility as the new designer on the block, she created several designs with little direction from the client and with no pay. This proved frustrating and some of her designs were plagiarized. In her effort to please the client she also agreed to meet their unrealistic deadlines, causing her to work strenuous, long hours. 

As I coached her through these roadblocks, Heather developed strategies to regain control of her work schedule and position herself as a professional in the communications field. Heather learned to set clear boundaries which resulted in a more respectful and less demanding client group. Those who would not respect her boundaries were gently fired as clients! Here are the key points from this coaching interchange.

  • Heather identified what she needed in order to produce high-quality deliverables in a timely manner.
  • She then set clear boundaries based on her needs and time schedule.
  • She set up a sliding fee scale to cover her time in creating concepts for client approval.
  • She copyrighted her work right from the get-go.
  • She educated her clients on what she needs in order to produce great designs for their business. This created buy-in and understanding on the clients’ part.
  • She developed a contract that outlined fees, copyrights, scheduling details and project boundaries for her work (to avoid “scope creep” which happens when clients push the contract work beyond the costs and/or schedule dates).
  • She learned to underpromise by standing firm on her deadlines and overdeliver by generating work earlier than promised. This impressed her clients because she delivered quality work ahead of schedule.
How NOT to gain new clients - What can happen when you give too much (and how to recover).Click To Tweet

Questions for Supervisors

Looking at this scenario through your supervisor’s lens:

  • Is your team being forced to meet unreasonable expectations or deadlines?
  • What is the cost in terms of employee stress and depleted morale?
  • Are you educating your stakeholders and upper management so they can buy into the need for more realistic outputs and time schedules?
  • Are you proactive in protecting your employees from burnout?

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