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WHAT DO YOU THINK?
Should bosses and
employees friend each
other on Facebook?
Jessica Lamb is
social media manager at Brain Works,
a marketing agency
based in Moncton,
Dr. Wendy R.
Carroll is director
of the Executive
Master of Business
in the Department
of Management at
the Sobey School
of Business, Saint
in Halifax, Nova
IS IT SMART to include your colleagues, employees or even your boss on your
social platforms? Yes! Social media is a great way for individuals to connect
and find commonalities outside the office. Through the use of social media,
individuals become better communicators, share in personal successes and
build more positive community engagement. Friending your employees or boss
on Facebook can help to humanize relationships, as you will have more insight
into everyone’s lives.
Beyond Facebook, connecting with your boss on LinkedIn can be a strategic
move. It may give you an opportunity to share your aspirations and highlight
your strengths, the way you give back to the community, skills they’re unfamiliar with or ways in which you can leverage your connections. Following your
boss’s feed will also give you insight into his or her interests and provide you
with conversation starters for your office interactions.
When you connect through social media you enhance your “brand” by sharing things that matter to you. Because of this, you may want to clean up old personal information before connecting. By taking the time to remove posts that
are irrelevant now, you are likely to become more confident with your online
presence. Going forward, if you don’t want your boss to see something, you
shouldn’t share it, but Facebook does have privacy functions that allow you to
control what is visible to different audiences and who can see individual posts.
Check your privacy settings thoroughly and customize as needed. Remember:
It’s not just about your posts; check photos you’re tagged in, old apps you may no
longer use and old likes for groups or pages that may not be in alignment with
your company’s culture.
If you do add your boss on social media, engage with him or her. Toss your
boss a like, a nice comment, and even a share every now and then if you agree with
something he or she has posted or shared. This can keep you top of mind if you
work in a larger organization where you don’t get a lot of face time with your boss. C
POPULAR ARTICLES from sources such as Fast Company, Business Insider
and Forbes have cautioned employees and bosses about sending or accepting
Facebook (FB) friend requests. This advice has typically highlighted the risks
associated with loss of privacy and damage to reputation that could negatively
affect and jeopardize an employee’s employment relationship or a boss’s objectivity in dealing with employee matters. These pieces offer sound advice, suggesting that employees and bosses should not friend each other, because (a)
information available and viewed on FB may lead to claims of discrimination or
harassment; (b) negative posts and comments written about another employee,
boss or leader in the organization may lead to a dismissal; and (c) friending
some but not all employees may raise concerns of favoritism.
Central to the friending consideration is our understanding of social
relationships as social minefields online. For example, evidence from exploratory field experiments—as reported in MIS Quarterly—shows that physical
social networks and our assumptions about how they work may not translate
and transfer to online social networks, possibly resulting in lost trust between
an employee and their boss. Another study in the Academy of Management
Journal shows evidence that FB becomes an “emotional echo chamber” that
amplifies negative emotions when an adverse or disruptive event happens in
the workplace and can lead to a heightened escalation of reactions that desta-bilizes the organizational dynamic.
Although some may argue that friending your boss on FB may serve to
advance your social and economic capital at work, the evidence reveals that the
transference of physical social relationships is far more unpredictable online.
Perhaps the best advice for employees and bosses is to keep professional
relationships professional—relying, if necessary, on professional rather than
personal networking sites. C
Is it OK to discuss politics
at the holiday table?
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