Facebook Friending Your Boss?

Dear Young Professional,

To answer this question, you first need to assess how this could help or hurt your offline relationship with your boss. It’s a very personal decision and one that should not be made lightly.

While my career started before the Internet existed and not everyone had access to, let alone own a computer, I understand this digital age you live in and ow it may impact your career.

I can list several reasons why you would not want to friend a boss or influential colleague on Facebook.

Just to name a few:

  • Your posts are timestamped, if you have a policy about personal usage of work equipment this could be a violation.
  • You could get caught if you call in sick and yet post fun activities from that day.
  • Someone may post or comment personal drama on your status, out of your control.

If you decide you want to entertain the thought of accepting or extending a friend request think about this. Evaluate the situation by asking yourself:

  • Does my company have a social media policy that I or my manager must follow?
  • Is this decision being made because your boss sent you a friend request? Or are you proactively thinking of sending a friend request?
    • If your boss sent the request and you don’t want to accept, decline gracefully.
      • “I appreciate the friend request, to maintain my professionalism I decided I want to keep some room between my work and personal life.”
    • If you are initiating really think about how that may be received by your boss.
      • Before you send that request, do you have an opportunity, such as your weekly 1:1, to discuss this topic by asking questions and gauging my boss’s reaction?

If you decide to engage your boss (or colleagues) think about:

  • What’s the balance of frequency and content that’s appropriate?
    • If you have had personal conversations in the office about hobbies or family events and see a photo posted on that topic then “liking” or commenting could build rapport.
    • Use the online content to start a in-person conversation back in the office, such as, “I saw you celebrated your anniversary at Houston’s. I haven’t been there how was the food?”
      • BE CAREFUL: too much of this tactic could be seen as “brown nosing” or creepy stalking behavior.
  • Look at your posted content through a new lens. If you were your boss, what does your online  image say about you?
    • Think about scrubbing any incriminating photos by deleting or de-tagging
      • Having a drink at dinner in a photo is very different from a photo where you look wasted in bar at 2AM with empty shot glasses in front of you.
    • Think about changing your settings so you have to approve what content friends may submit before it appears on your timeline.
    • Look at your page and see if you feel the story being told is aligned with the brand image you want to project.
      • Pictures of doing volunteer work
      • Pictures of hobbies
      • Be careful having political preferences posted as your boss or colleague may not share that point of view

There’s more than one right answer to this question. Choose the one that feels right to you.

Fondly,
Aunt Kris

Leave a Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.