As Michael Scott from the popular T.V. show “The Office” would say – bosses are getting cooler and cooler. As the connecting, following, and friending age gets going, bosses and their employees are finding more ways to interact. The difference, however, between interacting face to face and interacting through social mediums is the idea that the social networking accounts come home with you, while the office is left behind at 5:00.
As someone who grew up with social media, I know that no matter how private you may set your accounts or how much you may manage those accounts, the unexpected always seems to find its way onto your page. While Twitter and LinkedIn are professional and usually appropriate, Facebook is another story.
The pictures from the party last night, the friend with a mouth like a truck driver, the friend of a friend of a friend who’s profile lets everyone see the joke comment you wrote last week””it’s all out there. The question then becomes: Should take the risk and be friends with your boss on Facebook?
Michael Scott would undoubtedly say yes, but to many, the answer is an obvious “no.” However, I realize that the line is not always so clear, and therefore I believe that Michael Scott may be right, but only in certain situations. Follow these steps to make sure that your Facebook relationship with your boss will lead to only good things:
Step #1: Keep your personal Facebook page as private as possible
Although even this does not hide everything that occurs on Facebook, it will help your cause. The best thing you can do is keep your personal Facebook account as personal as possible, which leads me to step #2.
Step #2: Do not initiate the friendship
The first thing you should do is avoid the topic at all costs. If your boss does not ask to connect with him/her on Facebook, then it is not your job to ask him/her. The best thing you can do is just leave the topic alone, even if you have nothing to hide or if your boss seems really cool.
Step #3: Create a Facebook account strictly for work
Sometimes you will have a boss who is extremely outgoing, and they may ask to be your Facebook friend. If this occurs, you likely do not want to be rude or offend your boss, so be prepared by creating a Facebook account specifically for work. If you make this account searchable (through the Facebook security settings) and your personal account unsearchable, your boss will only see that you have one Facebook. Make the page look real, but keep it professional. Only allow people you really trust to be your friends on this account, and use appropriate language.
Step #4: Evaluate why your boss wants to be Facebook friends in the first place
If your boss is really active on Facebook, he/she may notice that he/she is not seeing your personal account. If this is something that concerns your boss, they may have bad intentions for wanting to be friends. In the end, it should not matter whether or not you connect on a social networking account. If it were for business reasons, you would likely be connecting to a business Facebook page, and your boss should want you to use a professional Facebook. You may have a harassment situation on your hands if your boss continues to pester you about your personal Facebook account.
Step #5: Don’t forget the co-workers
You should apply these same practices when dealing with co-workers who want to connect. However, unlike your boss, if you have been working with a co-worker for many years and spend time with them outside work, it would probably be okay to let them in on your personal page. Do not jump the gun on this, though, just in case your friend suddenly becomes your boss! You should also take time to make this move to really get to know the person. You would not want an argument to send them to your boss’s office with any negative information they saw on your Facebook.
This may seem like a hassle, but ultimately your image at work matters. The last thing you want is for your boss to something embarrassing on Facebook (especially if you haven’t seen it yet), and this can unfortunately happen. Facebook has been working hard to fix their security settings, but it is still not fool proof. To take a different approach, think of it this way: You may like that crazy picture where you’re singing on stage with your favorite rock band. After all, who wants to bring work into more than 40 hours of their life? Well, except for Michael Scott.
About The Guest Author: Amanda DiSilvestro is a writer on topics ranging from social media to corporate credit cards. She writes for an online resource that gives advice on topics including business credit card applications to small businesses and entrepreneurs for the leading B2B Directory, Business.com.