New Job, No Boundaries New Job, No Boundaries
Dear Jewish Fairy Godmother: I just got a new job as executive director of a nonprofit. During negotiations I was explicit about my need... New Job, No Boundaries

Dear Jewish Fairy Godmother:

I just got a new job as executive director of a nonprofit. During negotiations I was explicit about my need to transition and also have two weeks between jobs with zero commitments. But because the departing director has done nothing for years, the board is chomping to get moving. They’ve been calling me, emailing and expecting me to attend meetings. I am already burned out and sorry I took the new job, but I can’t just walk away from it. How can I get the space I desperately need?

— Swamped

Dear Swamped:

Clearly this board needs to learn boundaries. If you don’t already have caller I.D. on your home phone, get it now. Then plan a polite campaign to create a buffer zone and recalibrate their expectations.

Send an email from your new work address that says the following:

“Thanks for all your encouraging emails. I too am very excited about the prospects of working together and eager for the organization to have a successful transition. For me to understand your needs and concerns, I plan to meet with you individually once I begin work on [start date]. Between now and then, please consider the following questions: What do you see as the three most pressing needs of our organization? What would be a good timeline for addressing those needs? How much time beyond regular board meetings are you prepared to commit to accomplishing those priorities? I plan a very vigorous campaign to enrich our endowment, so I’ll want to discuss prospective donors with you.”

Tell them you’ll be taking your negotiated retreat before you begin work and you look forward to reading their answers when you start. End with a P.S. that informs them they should reply to your work email. Monitor your caller I.D. and know that vigilance will be required to get the space you need.