Is there a good way of setting up boundaries so that people don’t get upset because they feel controlled, manipulative or suspected? I thought about this because at my work, red tape is stuck to the floor of the main area, and this tape represents the boundary between which technician personnel cannot cross over. Myself, because of my duties, I have free unrestricted access to the entire building; heck, I’m even an key-holder! However, I do not set policy for the company, so my involvement as to how the tape is conveyed is very limited; another words, I follow orders too.

Today, as I was doing inventory work, a technician [tech.] came in asking for some equipment, and it just so happened that the manager was also there, so he helped him out while I stayed so I could finish my spread-sheets. As I was typing and printing out the sheets, I heard the manager tell the tech that he was not to cross the red-line. In a flash the tech. started to loudly tell the manager that this policy really insulted him, and he felt extremely uneasy about this whole “line-on-the-floor” rule and wanted the manager to know his feelings about it.

Days before, I made the joke that the red-line reminded me of the TV show, “WKRP-in Cincinnati” (1978), where one of the characters, Les Nessman (I think was played by Richard Sanders) wanted a private office so bad that he drew lines on the floor representing the walls, and even had a dotted line defining where the door was. The response from the manager was, well, he laughed, but that was it.

But my problem is that soon I will be in a situation where I must tell a technician that he or she must not cross that line, and enforce it if they do not obey. How should I deal with the one who will not obey the employers’ wishes? Should the company build a wall instead of having the red-tape? Maybe the company could forget about it altogether and try to live with a level of trust, although it was the trust that was broken and created the boundary in the first place? I guess I will cross that bridge when I get there….

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