Oct 17, 2011

Should You Be Facebook Friends With Your Staff?

Over the last six months, you have established a good working relationship with your staff.  They like and respect you.  As a team, you work hard, and you play hard. 

On this particular evening, you’ve logged on to Facebook and there it is – a friend request from one of your staff.  Do you confirm the friendship request or not?  For me, the answer is ‘No’.  But you have to decide for yourself.  Before you click on the ‘Confirm’ button, answer these questions: 
  •  Do you really want to know about what goes on in your staff’s personal life? 
  • Do you really want them to see what goes on in your personal life? 
  • How comfortable are you having your posts and/or pictures discussed in the office?
  • How will you feel if you have to address this person’s performance, or worse, terminate their employment?  Can you remain objective? 

If you are not concerned about any of these things, then confirm away.  However if you are, then it’s time to tactfully decline…in person.  Here are your talking points: 
  •  Thank the staff member for the friend request. 
  •  Acknowledge that you use Facebook as a personal tool to keep in touch with friends and family. 
  • Explain that you prefer to keep your work life separate from your personal activities.  
  • Explain that while you appreciate the friend request, you think it is better that you are not privy to see what they post on Facebook. 
  • Ask them not to take it personally, and that you hope it does not impact your working relationship going forward. 

This is called a ‘courageous conversation’.  Although the thought of having this conversation makes you feel uncomfortable, it is well worth the time.  This conversation should take no more than five minutes.

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