We all want to get along with our bosses, but what happens when your boss doesn’t respect your personal boundaries?
BusinessWeekOnline features a weekly Q&A where readers can ask HR managers advice about job issues. A question recently addressed an issue regarding a boss that calls one of her employees at home after hours to discuss small issues and chat about things that could be discussed at work.

This could be a difficult situation for many employees. You’re afraid to risk offending your boss by asking them to stop calling, but you don’t want to sacrifice your own time by late night calls from your workaholic supervisor.

The BusinessWeek answer advised the employee to limit the phone call to ten minutes by stating at the beginning that you only have a short time to talk. This could work for a short time, and eventually your boss may get the hint, but without explaining your actions you could risk hurting their feelings. Another idea is to speak directly with your boss, and ask them to reconsider calling you at home. Make sure to explain that you are willing to be available in case of an emergency, but that you have a number of personal responsibilities that require your attention after work and the importance of dedicating your time to those instead of non-emergency business items. 

This is a tough situation, and there may not be a right or wrong answer. I would like to know what others’ opinions are, and if anyone has had a similar experience and how they handled it.

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2 Responses to When Bosses Overstep Personal Boundaries

  1. Chris says:

    In the example you mention, I really don’t think any employee should hesitate to say that it is not appropriate to be called at home, unless it was an express condition of employment before the hire. This type of intrusion should not be tolerated under any circumstances except maybe “true” emergencies. (Like, “The company has burned down, please don’t show up for work tomorrow.”)Cell phones and computers are wonderful things, but they have contributed to a very wrong mindset that we should ALL be available to EVERYONE 24/7, and that’s just not right. Just say “No,” to the boss and get over it. If he/she punishes you as a result, you shouldn’t work there anyway.
    Okay–sorry. You asked for another example. This did not happen to me, but it happened to a friend of mine: She is executive assistant to the CEO of a large company. While she and I were dining together one weekday evening, he phoned her FOUR TIMES because he was on a business trip and needed information from her. If I had been her, I wouldn’t have had my cell phone with me at dinner!

  2. Ed C says:

    Any, and every, boss should realize the thin line that seperates work and home. Being a work-a-holic is no excuse for interupting the personal life of an employee, subordinate or manager.
    There will arize some emergency situations where a call must be made, however, small issues and chat are not among them.
    If the “Boss” is the business owner then obviously their primary interest is the success of their business. An employee must, in this instance, lay down the ground rules on purposes of the calls made after “normal working hours”.
    As an ex-law officer, I have learned to document. It is unfortunate that in the private business sector we must do they same in our off time, but we should. Document the time, day and date of each call, if possible make note of the number they are calling from. Reference the reason for the call and topics discussed and the duration of the call. When the time comes to “drop the hammer” and put an end to superfulous calls we want to have a record should there be any retailiation or “harassment”.
    Again, it is unfortunate that we must do this, but, life does exist for most of us outside of work. Also when after hours calls are made are we being paid for our time or receiving any type of consulting fee. Money, expenses, are something all managers and “bosses” understand and when they understand that my time has a value and abuse of my time is going to come with a price attached, the obvious becomes a reality. Don’t call except for emergencies!
    Document the instances anyway. Call it self preservation, paranoia, or simply C.Y.A., as a law officer and business person, I call it smart.
    Good Luck
    Ed C

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