Social Media and Your Co-Workers…

Posted on October 24, 2019

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What I am listening to: The radio

What I am watching: Frontier (Netflix)

What I am looking forward to: Spring and summer!  I’m spending the winter planning my National Park trips!

Having friends at work is a factor in job satisfaction, productivity and can help alleviate stress because you have someone to talk with who is in a similar spot or at least knows the players.  A natural extension of this workplace friendship sometimes happens on social media through friend requests or following each other on various platforms. Over time things change, roles within the organizations change and we forget to update our settings or who is in what circle, so having some idea of how you want to handle these requests is important because it is super awkward to unfriend a co-worker(especially if they notice or send multiple requests).

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I’m a firm believer in not being Facebook friends with my supervisors or anyone I supervise.   Yes, I do want a supervisor who cares about me as a person and I want to be that supervisor for people I supervise, but that doesn’t mean we have to be Facebook friends.  In trickier supervisor/employee moments being overly friendly with each other can feel more invasive or undermine the effectiveness of the feedback you are providing and if the supervisor isn’t friends with everyone it can feel more like favoritism.

As platforms evolve so do their privacy settings so keep an eye out for new features, but also check in periodically with who is listed as an acquaintance, friend, close friend etc. to ensure you are OK with the way things are set up. In addition to privacy settings you can set other filters to see some people more or less often, so when a coworker just seems to be everywhere you can create a little more space on Facebook by un-following them while you still remain friends. Sometimes you never really know someone until you’re Facebook friends.

While Facebook might not be the best social media platform for me to be friends with co-workers and supervisors, LinkedIn is a great place and it is kind of the point of LinkedIn. Not all platforms are created equally, and you might use certain platforms differently than others so being connected on one or the other might feel more appropriate. I use my LinkedIn and Twitter more professionally so my co-workers connecting there is totally fine, Facebook definitely not as much.

So, what happens when you get an awkward friend request…  I have always thought that depends on the person who sent it. When my student staff would Facebook friend me, I would pull them into my office and talk with them.  (It was weird for them because I wouldn’t friend them until after they graduated, but the other supervisor did friend them.) I often explained that although I strive to be the boss who cares, I also have to be the boss who isn’t always a friend and has difficult conversations.  If that didn’t stick, once I said if we are friends and you call in sick from work to go drink beer and watch a game with your roommates but post it on social media I would see and you would be busted, they got it pretty quickly. For students or interns they might really be looking to bolster their professional network, as they think about their next steps.  I always offered to connect on LinkedIn since they were looking to connect professionally.

There are a lot of different ways to handle social media and your co-workers, so tell me how you have handled these tricky situations.

Susan Barkman is Neighborhood Liaison for the City of Aurora, Colorado. (It is ok to connect with me on Twitter at @BarkmanSusan or LinkedIn! )

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