NEW YORK (MainStreet) — To friend or not to friend your boss, that is the question.
A new survey from Cisco finds that 70% of employees worldwide are friends with their “managers and/or co-workers” on Facebook, but in the U.S. just 25% of employees say they are connected to co-workers and managers on Facebook.
It shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise that many workers are still hesitant to friend colleagues on Facebook. There have been one too many stories of employees being fired after posting questionable pictures or status updates on Facebook that were seen by their co-workers or managers. Even those who feel uncomfortable about connecting with co-workers and bosses on Facebook may feel pressured to do so, though, if the boss initiates it or if they notice others in the company have already done it.
If you feel pressured to friend a boss on Facebook, there are three things you should do to make sure that you don’t accidentally share something with him or her that will end up hurting your career.
Customize the sharing settings for each co-worker.
As soon as you’re connected officially to your manager on Facebook, take a minute to adjust the settings for what you share with him or her. You can do this by going to your boss’s profile page, clicking on the box at the top that says “Friends” and clicking on “Settings.” This will give you the option to check off what types of content you want to share with that user. So, for example, you might want to share “life event” updates (such as signing up for new courses or changing neighborhoods), but you might prefer not to share photos just in case one of them is a little too personal.
In this same “Settings” section, there is an option to not share any status updates with your manager, which might make sense for those who are particularly scared of sharing any content whatsoever with their employer. We would recommend against this. If you’re going to connect with your boss on the site, you might as well use it as an opportunity to build a deeper relationship with him or her by curating the updates they see rather than eliminating those updates completely.
Filter who sees your status updates.
You can manage who sees each status update by going to the status bar at the top of the main page and clicking on the button that says “Public.” You’ll see a drop-down menu that offers several different sharing options. From there, just click on “Custom” and you’ll have the option to either hide the post from a particular user (in this case, your manager), or to hide it from an entire group of people (your co-workers). The latter may be the better option. Otherwise, one of your co-workers might see the post, comment about it and inadvertently tip off your boss.
The easiest way to prevent any of your co-workers from seeing a particular update is to make sure everyone from your office is on the same Facebook list, a tool used to organize the news feed. Facebook makes this particularly easy by automatically grouping your friends into certain lists based on shared details in their profiles. If you look to the left column on the main page beneath where it says “Friends,” you’ll probably see a tab with the name of your current company on it. Click on that, and you’ll see the names of all the co-workers you’re connected to on the site who have identified themselves as employees at the company. If for any reason your manager isn’t already on that list, you can add him or her by going back to the same “Settings” menu on their profile page we mentioned earlier.
Change your overall privacy settings.
Facebook also offers the option to change your privacy settings for any updates you post from mobile devices. You can do this by clicking on the arrow in the top right corner of the home page and going to “Privacy Settings.” Halfway down the page you’ll see three options for who gets to see your posts from any Facebook app: “Public,” “Friends” and “Custom.” If you don’t want your manager and co-workers to see any late-night updates you post from your phone, we suggest you select “Custom” and choose to hide posts from anyone on your Facebook list that contains everyone from the company.