202: Managing the Boundaries of Personal and Professional with Deborah Grayson Riegel

For many people, the pandemic blurred the lines between personal and professional spaces. While this had many benefits such as bringing people closer together, it also created ambiguity that is challenging for managers to navigate. How can managers best create and maintain boundaries while supporting their team members’ whole selves?

Today’s guest is Deborah Grayson Riegel. Deborah is a keynote speaker, executive coach, and consultant who has taught leadership communication for Wharton Business School, Duke Corporate Education, Columbia Business School’s Women in Leadership Program, and the Beijing International MBA Program at Peking University. She is the co-author of “Go to Help: 31 Ways to Offer, Ask for, and Accept Help” and “Overcoming Overthinking: 36 Ways to Tame Anxiety for Work, School, and Life” — both written with her daughter Sophie, who is Junior at Duke.

Deborah and I talk about how to navigate the tricky situation of personal life bleeding into work life. We discuss setting boundaries and building relationships as well as how to support someone who is struggling in their personal life and what to do when it starts impacting their performance at work.

Get Deborah’s guide How To Have A C.A.L.M.E.R. Conversation About Mental Health At Work. This guide includes an overview of the C.A.L.M.E.R. approach that makes these difficult conversations easier for both parties. Get it when you join the Modern Manager community.

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Read the related blog article: How to Take Care of Stressed Out Employees


LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/deborahgraysonriegel/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/deborahgraysonriegel

Book: Go To Help

Book: Overcoming Anything

Key Takeaways:

  • Be intentional and explicit about setting personal boundaries at work. Connect with each person about what feels right for them.
  • If you’re shifting from a peer to a manager role, talk abou what will change and what will stay the same about your relationship.
  • Follow the APGAR acronym to notice early warning signs of stress in colleagues.
  • A= Appearance. Notice signs of stress and ask how they’re sleeping.
  • P= Performance. Ask how they feel about their workload.
  • G= Growth. Is there anything exciting for them at work to do?
  • A= Affect Control. What is stressing them at work?
  • R= Relationships. Who do they have at work/home to support them?
  • When someone comes to you for support or to unload personal issues, switch your mindset from “What Can I Do” to “Who Do I Want To Be” in this moment.
  • You don’t need to solve your employee’s personal problems. You are a bridge to other resources.
  • Give your stressed employee flexibility and then ask your manager for advice on picking up the slack. Speak with your team to decide together how to handle the shift in workload. Offer the extra work as a growth opportunity to someone who might benefit from the added or expanded responsibility.
  • Establish a timeframe about when work pace will go back to normal. Check in frequently about progress and how they’re doing.



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