I’m constantly asked, “Should I ‘ friend’ my boss on Facebook?” Maybe you already have. Maybe your boss sent you an invite and you felt pressured. Maybe you thought you could use Facebook to your advantage. Maybe you just thought it was harmless.
While it might seem like a good idea to be Facebook friends and know more about what’s important to the person in charge of your raise and promotion, there are also reasons to keep your distance.
- First things first – your main relationship is that of employee to manager. Your manager’s priority is to direct your work, as well as others, in order to ensure that company goals are met. In order to do this, s/he reviews work and compares it to the other people managed. Oftentimes, the measure of success is objective; however, there is always an element of subjectivity to every job. Even among friends, conflicts and misunderstandings occur. Since it’s an election year, many people have voiced their opinion on Facebook. What happens if your manager is a staunch republican and you post that you are an Obama supporter? What about other issues which come up for which you have an opinion? It may be difficult, if not impossible, for your boss to ignore differences of opinion when crucial decisions, like a raise or promotion, occurs.
- Be safe; keep a distance – most managers try their best to not get too involved in the lives of their employees in order to be fair to all those managed. They know that favoritism, even if perceived, can lead to career limiting decisions and, sometimes, lawsuits. If you care about your manager and his/her career, as well as your own, limit your relationship to work time.
- What are you thinkin’? –Even if you are cautious, your Facebook friends might post something to your page which compromises your professionalism. Being on your guard isn’t enough in our social media world. You can’t control everyone else’s posts. Even though the post might not be yours, it can potentially harm your personal brand image at work.
- I can’t ignore the request forever – If you choose to not be Facebook friends with your manager, and I hope you do, how do you decline the request without causing hurt feelings? Honesty is always the best policy, with a dash of humor. Simply say that you value your career, not to mention theirs, too much to jeopardize it with an innocent mistake or misperception – yours or your fun loving friends. I have used this technique successfully; explain, with a warm smile, that you don’t need to be Facebook friends with people you see at work everyday and tell them you would rather spend quality face time with them vs virtual Facebook time playing Farmville.