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Should you ‘Friend’ your Boss on Facebook?

Published: Monday 25th February 2019

For many employees, one of the biggest work conundrums is whether or not you should add your boss as a Facebook friend. While it’s obviously important to build a solid relationship with work colleagues, the question is should this extend to non-work-related social media platforms, such as Facebook?

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New technologies mean new work etiquette

It’s true that today, in most workplaces, the hierarchy in the workplace is different than it was even 30 years ago, especially in smaller organisations and start-ups where the working environment can be very fluid. Even the most junior members of staff can be in daily contact with senior staff or even the CEO/business owner.A lot will depend on the culture of the individual firm. Some managers will be uncomfortable about receiving a Facebook friend request from an employee. In fact, some may not even have a Facebook account.

Indeed, there may be an HR policy in place regarding social media. If you’re starting a new job, it’s a good idea to approach the HR department to find out about these types of organisational policies. However, in companies dealing with Internet technologies, working on social media platforms may be an integral part of the business.

If there is no policy in place, or you’re at all unsure, then it might be a good idea to find out if any of your co-workers are friends with your manager/boss, before taking that step. Again, if you work closely together, you could bring it up with your manager.

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When friends become seniors

It becomes a bit more complicated if you get a Facebook request from your boss. You can feel under pressure to accept in case doing otherwise causes offence.

Just as awkward is the situation that can arise is if you become the employee of a close friend, or if a current work colleague, and Facebook friend, is promoted into a management position above you. A survey found that, out of 300 new managers, two-thirds found the transition from friend to boss to be a difficult one. Obviously, your relationship will take on a new dynamic in the workplace. In this instance, it’s best to have a chat about it before you enter into that new arrangement, so you both know where you stand.

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Differentiating work and play

One way of solving the issue might be to create two Facebook profiles – one for the professional you and one for the social you. This will be certainly be the preferred option if you are currently job searching: many employers will vet social media accounts before hiring a new employee, or even ask for links to your social media accounts during the application process (although this is more likely to be your LinkedIn URL).

Even if you don’t already have a Facebook account for your professional life and one for close friends and family, your future promotional prospects may depend on you acting in a professional and business-like manner on social media, so you certainly might review your accounts in order to censor some photographs/postings. Remember too, that you can change your privacy settings, so work colleagues can only view certain posts.

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