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"Friend Me" - Maintaining Boundaries In Today's Connected Society

A recent survey shows employees may not think their bosses are all that bad. asked 3,000 people what they thought of their leaders, and over 60 percent gave an "A" or "B" grade. Only 14 percent gave their bosses a "D" or "F." 

Although 86 percent of managers received a passing grade, it did not mean employees did not have issues with how some managers performed their jobs. 

In one incident, the survey describes a boss ordering a supervisor to terminate someone and then requiring the same supervisor to give the terminated employee a ride home. 

Common sense keeps most managers from making a mistake like this. Terminations are a traumatic event for the person terminated and, to a lesser degree, to the person having to perform the termination. So, if you are ever caught when an employee needs a ride home after a termination, pay for a taxi. This is no time to be cheap. 

Another reported incident was a boss who required employees to "friend" him and to "like" his Facebook videos. 

Managers and employees connecting beyond work through social media is a growing, disturbing, and risky trend. 

Consider this hypothetical. June is Tom's manager. June asks Tom to "friend" her. Through Facebook, June sees that Tom's wife purchased a sports car and goes on vacations to many luxury destinations. When a layoff occurs, June lays off Tom, believing he can afford being off work instead of focusing on objective work factors. 

Another example is Tom starts liking certain political videos from a candidate. June supports a different candidate. June begins to engage Tom in political debate at work. Their debates make other employees uncomfortable and lead to June giving Tom a warning for insubordination after a heated debate. 

A final hypothetical is what happens when June goes on vacation. A friend who goes on vacation with June tags her in a picture that shows June inebriated. All of June's friends on Facebook, including Tom, see the image. Tom tells other employees he believes June has a drinking problem, even though he has never personally witnessed June drinking. With one image, June's standing with her employees is compromised. 

Managers and supervisors should establish and maintain boundaries with their employees, online and offline. Social media has a tendency to lower professional boundaries and make your private life a workplace subject. 

So, should managers close down their Facebook pages? 

Of course not, but who they invite into their social media circle should be limited to family and personal friends with a lot of thought given to whether to invite work associates. In the alternative, be careful about what you post. Consider another alternative, like inviting workplace associates to professional sites like Linkedin.

Remember, at work you should be friendly, but be cautious about lowering your professional boundaries.

This informational piece was published on August 18, 2014.