3 min read

Here’s the note I sent to my new boss to establish my boundaries

How to proactively control your destiny in how you work.
Here’s the note I sent to my new boss to establish my boundaries
Photo by Johannes Plenio / Unsplash

Sustain issue #82 (Get Sustain in your inbox next Thursday)

I mentioned several weeks ago that I just started in a new role at my company with a new boss.

Whether you’re starting at a new company or with a new boss, this initial point of relationship-building is critical to your long-term happiness and success in your new role. You can either sit back with a new boss and let the chips fall possibly not in your favor or you can be proactive and advocate for what you need.

Clearly, I advocate for the latter and today I’m showing you how I just did that.

Even if you’re not changing bosses, the end of the year is a perfect chance to suggest a conversation to reset working norms heading into the new year. I’d suggest a few simple steps: 1) Mention to your boss you’d like to schedule a conversation to revisit working norms heading into the new year, 2) Type out what you want to say and send it to your boss in advance of the conversation, 3) Talk through any sticky points in your conversation. 

I shared a written version of 'How I work' to reinforce my boundaries and needs with the following points:

  • My background. How my past way of working led me to burnout and what I did about it.
  • Reiterating the fact that working in a sustained way does not mean I’m lazy or don’t want to achieve in my role.
  • Frame this How I Work conversation as a win-win for you and for your boss/company. If you’re refreshed and not on the verge of burnout, you’re going to be more productive and more creative. That’s good for all parties.
  • Tangible examples of what a sustained way of working means to me.
  • Acknowledgment that you don’t envision there being any issues, but you’re open to a conversation right away if anything feels as though it’s becoming an issue.

So, here it is. Here’s the note I sent to my boss to establish our working relationship proactively.  

How I work

I pride myself on being a high achiever. I’ve been praised throughout my career for big-picture thinking, a deep understanding of the audience I’m marketing to, and building bridges and processes cross-functionally to multiply business results.

But that way of thinking got me into trouble years ago and I massively burned out from trying to be everywhere for everyone. Based on that period and my hard-won learnings since I’ve drastically changed the way I work. This is all done to protect the quality of work I deliver over the long term. I’m just as committed to business results and I’m still a high achiever but my HOW is much different. I work in a more well-paced way and focus attention on the highest impact priorities to ensure I can continue to deliver in a way I know I can and produce what Qualtrics has come to expect.

Here are a few tangible examples of what that means to me:

  • I operate with the assumption that my success is measured by the outcomes I produce, not the hours I work. I do acknowledge that there will be 1-3 sprint periods a year for big projects which will require a heavier level of effort and hours output.
  • Since we all have a finite amount of bandwidth, I look forward to working each quarter to develop 3-4 OKRs supporting the highest impact work I can sign up for. Knowing that new priorities regularly emerge mid-quarter, I expect to come to you to help prioritize/trade off.
  • When I log off for the day, I rarely check email/Slack in the evening. And when I take PTO I’m fully logged off. If an urgent matter arises, feel free to text me at XXX-XXX-XXXX.
  • I block out 90 minutes daily to protect how many meetings are scheduled each day and so I have guaranteed focus time to work. I’m fine if you schedule over it if there’s a critical meeting or if you need to move out 1:1.

I’ve been working like this for close to three years at Qualtrics and I’d be shocked if it causes any friction in this new role. But don’t hesitate to let me know if it does and we can discuss mutually beneficial solutions.

Ready to downsize your relationship with work and quit burnout?

Hi, I'm Grant Gurewitz. I'm on a mission to eliminate burnout at work. I've been in tech for 10 years (ex-Zillow, current: Qualtrics) and suffered deep burnout and came back from it even though I never found a playbook for doing so. So, I'm writing it myself.

✉️ Want my top tips? I share my full step-by-step playbook in How I Quit Burnout, my premium newsletter. Get the next one delivered straight to your inbox >

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