Should I Friend My Boss on Facebook?
Work + Life Balance

Should I Friend My Boss on Facebook?

by Shauna Simons
Photos Tonhya Kae | March 21, 2016

WE’VE ALL DELETED OR IGNORED A FACEBOOK FRIEND REQUEST FROM SOMEONE WE DON’T LIKE. BUT WHAT CAN YOU DO WHEN THAT REQUEST IS FROM YOUR BOSS?

If the thought of being friends with your boss on Facebook strikes fear in your heart, we understand. Those pictures from last night’s wild bar crawl are fun, but it’s not what you want your boss thinking about the next time you’re pitching her an idea or giving a presentation. And what if being friends on Facebook is just a way for her to check up on you when you call in sick? 

Even if you’re apprehensive about connecting with your boss on Facebook, there are benefits to this type of friendship. Your social activity can show her that you have a handle on work-life balance {click to tweet}, and reveal common interests or additional skills that she should capitalize on. As long as you manage it correctly, this could be a great opportunity to build your professional relationship. 

Whatever side you’re on, whether you’re terrified by the idea or eager to initiate the connection, we have a few tips to help you decide if being friends with your boss on Facebook is a smart career move. 

Just keep in mind that nothing is ever one hundred percent private. 

EVALUATE YOUR WORKPLACE CULTURE

The type of relationship you develop with your boss will largely depend on your workplace culture. Look for signs that a Facebook friendship with your boss is a common or expected practice at your company, such as a relaxed social media policy, or a team that meets up on the weekend or for happy hour. At the other extreme, if your company blocks social media or personal cell phone use and the only personal detail you know about your boss is that she loves to rock six-inch heels, then a Facebook friendship will feel out of place and could be considered inappropriate.

CLEAN UP YOUR SOCIAL PRESENCE

A friend request from a boss (or even coworker) is an excellent opportunity to review your Facebook page. Remember that maintaining a professional social presence is important to your personal brand, so ensure that your Facebook account is something you’re proud of. We know that you’d never post a public rant about how much you hate your job, but looking at your Timeline through the eyes of your employer could reveal other types of posting habits you need to reconsider. If you’re cringing at the thought of your boss scrolling through your profile, it’s a good sign that your page could use a facelift.

UTILIZE FACEBOOK’S PRIVACY SETTINGS

Facebook allows users to control what information is shared with the public. Use these features to customize what your boss can and cannot see about your life. You can modify your sharing settings, filter who is allowed to see your status updates, and even restrict certain people from seeing what others are posting on your Timeline. Before clicking “confirm” on a friendship with your boss, take a look at Facebook’s Help Center Page to learn the full range of privacy options. Just keep in mind that nothing is ever one hundred percent private. The smartest approach is to assume that everything you share could potentially be seen by your boss.

Those pictures from last night’s wild bar crawl are fun, but it’s not what you want your boss thinking about the next time you’re pitching her an idea or giving a presentation. 

DEFER TO LINKEDIN

If you’ve received a request from your boss but can’t shake the feeling that a Facebook friendship isn’t a good idea, listen to your instincts and delete the request. Help to soften the blow by redirecting her to LinkedIn. Send a polite message along the lines of, “Thanks so much for the friend request! I prefer to make all my professional connections on LinkedIn. Would it be okay to connect there instead?” Unfortunately, there’s a chance that denying the request could put a chink in your professional relationship or make her think you have something to hide. So make an extra effort to discuss the situation in-person and find a solution that works for the both of you.

SO WHAT IF YOU’RE THE BOSS?

If you’re in a position of power at work, remember to be sensitive to the relationship that you have with your team. Again, it’s important to gauge your workplace culture before sending a friend request to a subordinate. {click to tweet} Be especially cautious if you find that an employee has strict privacy settings or isn’t friends with any other company staff. This is probably a sign that the person wants to keep this area of her life private, and you should respect that decision. If you do become Facebook friends with one of your team members, keep your online relationship professional and avoid becoming the person’s “embarrassing parent” who is always commenting on photos, tagging her in posts, or writing on her timeline.

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What’s your stance on this topic? Do you embrace the benefits of a Facebook friendship with your boss or avoid it at all costs? Let us know in the comments!