Let’s start this conversation with: Why would you “friend” your boss?
Maybe your boss asked to be ‘friended’. Or, maybe you really like your boss and think they would be fun to interact with on Facebook.
On the surface those seem like fairly good reasons for taking that step, but let’s examine a few reasons to be cautious.
- They ARE the boss. Your boss’s job is to direct the work of you and others to accomplish certain goals. As part of that job, they are in the position of ensuring that each employee produces work in both the quality and quantity expected. They are there to assess your work and that isn’t always the most comfortable situation. Despite the fact that you might work for someone you really like and the feeling is mutual, you have to recognize that as your boss they will fire you if they have to. And they will do whatever it takes to get the work out of you that they expect. Sure, they want to enjoy the people they work with as much as you do, but when it comes right down to it – they are there to ensure the work gets done, not to be your friend.
- Can you ever be a real friend as long as they are the boss? Not really. You have to think about the worse-case scenario. What if they fire you? Do you want them to see your evil comments about them? When the time comes that they are no longer your boss then you can shift your thinking and activities to make them your fully fledged buddy.
- Do you really think they can be your friend and do their job effectively? Most managers keep a level of detachment so they don’t show favoritism and can make the tough decisions. Don’t mistake their friendliness for friendship.
- Do you really want to expose that much of your personal life to the boss? If you know you don’t tell them the whole story of what you did last weekend or the day you called in sick then why on earth would you give them access to that kind of personal information? The horror stories of job seekers losing opportunities apply to you even when you’re working.
- What will you gain by “friending” the boss? Not much and you could lose a great deal in the process.
There is very little reason to “friend” the boss no matter how much you two enjoy each other’s company. If they have asked to “friend” you on Facebook, either ignore it and pretend that you never saw the request in the first place or connect with them on Linked In. With Linked In, your persona is more professional to begin with; and Linked In has capabilities that will allow you to set privacy settings to help you keep private when you need to. If they ask you about not responding, you can simply say you prefer to connect with people at work on Linked In and avoid further explanations.
You have to think through the potential implications of whom and where you connect to people. You are the only person who will protect and care for your reputation and career future. To effectively manage that future you have to think about both today and tomorrow.