Career Management

Have you ever logged into Facebook to find a shiny red notification that turns out to be a friend request from your boss? To accept, or not to accept: that is the question.

Thanks to social media, the line between our personal and professional lives is blurring; everyone’s feeling it and no one knows exactly where to draw the line. There’s no universal rulebook to follow and the answer certainly isn’t black and white; it will incite fear in some and total nonchalance in others. To help you decide what you should do, we asked a panel of 11 employment and career experts to weigh in with their opinions…

 Marian Bloodworth

marian-bloodworthemployment-lawyer

“Using social media systems at work brings with it certain considerations. Communications with colleagues may well be easier but it is still important to ensure that they are appropriate in tone and content. Asking a direct report to be a friend on Facebook could place that employee in a difficult position, particularly if they wish to refuse, for example because they prefer to keep their private and work lives separate. It also blurs the professional lines between the manager and employee, and creates the risk that the manager may not be seen as capable of making impartial decisions regarding the employee, for example in relation to pay/bonus and promotion prospects.”

@emplawmarian is an Employment Partner at Kemp Little LLP

James Nathan

 

james-nathan-2

“This is a tricky question, but the answer really depends on you and what you put on Facebook. For most people who post normal stuff, family friends, holidays then there is no reason why you shouldn’t really. However, don’t forget that what you post is not only available for your ‘friends’ to see, but depending on their privacy settings, other people too. We can only control our own privacy settings. If you are in any doubt then the answer should be no.”

@JamesNathan is the Managing Director at The James Nathan Experience

Liz Sebag-Montefiore

liz-sebag-montifiore

 

“No, I think it’s safer to use Facebook for social networking, largely because you don’t have control of photos/comments that could be added – an inappropriate social media photo or post may have negative professional repercussions. Not to mention the fact that some have been ‘Facebook fired’ for posting things they should not. Studies show that workplace friendships have positive effects but use a little caution. LinkedIn the network to use for connecting with managers, suppliers, competitors and is the professional network. You need to be visible to others in the business community and this is an important part of your personal branding.”

@LizSM10Eighty is a career coach at 10Eighty

Alison Cardy

alison-cardy

“Since you are already a savvy social media user who refrains from posting inappropriate content and thoughtfully considers what you do share, yes, it’s perfectly fine to be friends with managers online. You are being a responsible Facebook user already, aren’t you?”

@CardyCareers is a career coach and author of Career Grease: How to Get Unstuck and Pivot Your Career

Lysha Holmes

lysha-holmes

“I think Facebook has always been seen as the most personal of all social media; however, the invisible line which divides these barriers is ever changing and whereas 2 yrs ago I would have answered this as “no”, now, in 2016, I would answer, “if both parties want to!” I befriend many business acquaintances now on facebook as I think all social media channels offer different ways to communicate with people. Don’t want to be friends with your boss? Don’t accept the invite!”

@LyshaHolmes is the owner of Qui Recruitment Ltd

Jon Gregory

jon-gregory

“Oh yes. Why pass up on a wonderful opportunity to endlessly show how great you really are? Let your wit, charm, personality, massive potential and utter devotion to duty shine through your every post and comment. Whether you’re a career-builder, or just need to strengthen your job security, building a closer relationship with the person holding the guillotine handle is the only right thing to do. If they’re daft enough to connect with you, that is.”

@LetsFireWalk (aka Jon) is a job hunt coach at Win-That-Job.com

Caroline Stokes

caroline-stokes

I like to believe we bring our entire selves to work, so if manager and direct report want to mutually connect via Facebook, then of course, do it. We’ve evolved a lot since the early days of Facebooking when the worst could be revealed about our social habits. If in doubt, don’t connect with your boss or employee. By way of sharing how to reject a Facebook request gracefully, an editor declined my FB connection a few months ago. Instead of my request being ignored, the editor emailed to explain he only uses FB for family and friends, not business friends. I respected his decision and I have a relationship with him on his business email and Twitter. You can do the same, if you want to keep employees or line management separate from your personal life.

@theforwardco is an executive headhunter & coach at FORWARD

 Aimee Bateman

aimee-bateman

“I think it’s a personal decision. You hear about the instances where it has worked, and others where it hasn’t. Currently, I am friends with my team on Facebook and it works for me. It depends on your emotional intelligence and ability to assess the situation. That, and having a shared understanding of trust – what stays personal and what remains in the business.”

@Aimee_Bateman is the CEO & founder of Careercake.com

Farhan Raja

farhan-raja

“Don’t add your boss if you do the following on Facebook: you are quite outspoken, share strong political views, are politically incorrect, or if you post videos, memes or photos of yourself that you wouldn’t want your grandparents to see. If, on the other hand, you’re fairly inactive, posting a few holiday photos every now and then, usually write on peoples timelines to wish happy birthdays, wedding congrats and so on, then I don’t see any harm in adding your boss. Essentially, steer away from posting anything which could create a negative perception of you to your boss in general.”

@interviewology (aka Farhan) is the founder, career & communications coach at jobinterviewology.com

Rebecca Fraser

rebecca-fraser

“There is always the need to keep your professional and personal lives separate. Unfortunately, with the introduction of online social networks these boundaries are becoming less clear. If you are considering adding your boss on Facebook, considering the limitations this may have to your sharing personal information, or how, if you did share this personal information it may impact your career. There are numerous court cases that demonstrate how blurred these lines are where people have lost their employment or been unable to claim against dismissal. What appears in social media can be deemed as open access to anyone, so for this reason, consider closely about whether or not adding your boss or manager on Facebook is the right decision.”

@RebeccaFraserCo is a career coach

John Feldmann

john-feldman

“It depends. If you enjoy a relaxed, casual work atmosphere and company culture AND you don’t have anything on your Facebook page that you would be afraid to share with your manager in person, then there shouldn’t be any problem befriending your manager or boss on social media. If either of these don’t apply, it’s probably best to keep your relationship strictly professional.”

John Feldmann is writer, blogger and content developer for Insperity Recruiting Services


About Phoebe Spinks

Editor of Undercover Recruiter & Senior Account Executive at Link Humans, a recruitment marketing agency.

Get weekly recruiting and career tips direct to your inbox!

Load Comments