Some would consider it a “first world problem”: Should you friend your boss online? Becoming Facebook friends, or mutual followers on Twitter and Instagram can change the relationship between manager and employee, but it’s not necessarily a bad thing – if you do it right. Before you hit “confirm” on that friend request, take these things into consideration.
Weigh Your Options
First things first, let your boss initiate the connection.
“Whatever you do, don’t be the one to request your boss’ friendship on social media,” says Christine Karel, social media manager for Globe Education Network. “Let your boss friend you, if they feel it is appropriate.”
Once you receive the request, consider the pros and cons of accepting or denying their friendship.
“If you ignore their request, it might look weird and as if you have something to hide,” says Karel. “But if you decide it’s inappropriate and just not something you should do, politely explain that you only use Facebook to stay in touch with family and friends, but you’re happy to connect on LinkedIn, where you keep your professional relationships.”
If you do decide to accept the request, know that you should be careful.
“Airing your dirty laundry on social media for your boss to see can make them view you in different light,” Karel says. “It opens you up to be judged.”
On the other hand, Karel points out that it can also allow you to build a stronger connection with your boss.
“They’re able to see a more personal side of you and get to know you better,” she says.
Be Smart, Set Your Privacy Settings
Connecting with your boss doesn’t mean he or she has to see everything you post. Of course, if your Twitter and Instagram accounts are not set to private, you can expect that everything is fair game. Facebook is a little different, but you can customize your privacy settings to place certain people on restricted lists, or select who to share with on a post-by-post basis.
“You might want to share photos with your boss of you and your kids at a family reunion, for example,” Karel says. “But restrict them from seeing those from the party you were at with your friends from college.”
Karel also says to use common sense, and be smart about what you’re posting.
“Do not let your boss see pictures of you and your friends out at the bar and then call in sick the next day,” she warns. “Or worse, call in sick and then post pictures at happy hour with the caption ‘Playing hooky!’”
Use Proper Etiquette
Your new online friendship with your boss can be tricky to maneuver. How should you engage? What should you like or comment on? Karel recommends thinking of your social media connection as an extension of a conversation you would have in the office. Try not to blur the line between manager and employee. After all, he or she is still your boss – even if it is outside work hours and online.
“If you think it’s something they would tell you to your face at work, feel free to comment or like it,” she says. “If it’s something more personal and you don’t feel it’s your place to comment, you probably shouldn’t.”
With everyone and their grandma on social media today, it can be hard to figure out if it’s appropriate to start a relationship with your boss on social media. Decide if it’s right for you, use privacy settings and keep it professional. To learn more about Globe University and career support services visit www.globeuniversity.edu/about-us/career-services.