Your Boss Is Not Your Friend
I’ve been waiting all week for the calendar to say Friday so that I could have a little fun and mention this, and now the day is here. Huzzah!
Okay, so earlier this week the Washington Post had a (free) article entitled OMG – My Boss Wants to "Friend" Me On My Online Profile that touched on what to do the horrifying day that your boss tries to encroach your personal space by "friending" you online.
In the olden days, it was easy to brush off the boss. Your company would organize a group
bowling day movie day, er company dinner and the employees would all regretfully tell the boss they couldn’t meet for drinks because they had prior commitments. The employees would then all secretly go to dinner themselves and talk about their loser boss. (Bruce, please note we have never done this. I’m talking about other employees at other jobs with other bosses. Like the kids that work at SEOmoz.)
However, then the Lord invented MySpace. And Facebook. And LinkedIn. Now there’s nowhere left to hide.
Employees of the world, I want to warn you. Your day will come. When you least expect it, you will innocently log into your favorite social network and there will be a friend request waiting for you. From your boss. Asking to be your social network friend. What are you going to do?
I’ve found the best way to handle this is deny, deny, deny. Pretend as if you never saw the friend request. Under no circumstances should you reject their request. They will be able to see this and you will be fired, as your boss will assume you have something to hide. Instead, you are to pretend as if you never saw the request. When your boss "jokingly" asks you if you’re ignoring their request [cue uncomfortable laughter] you are to play dumb. The correct response in this situation is:
"OMG, you sent me friend request? On [Name of Social Network]? Are you sure you spelled my name right? Those stupid computers. I never got it! Resend it!"
Now, there is a 90 percent chance (note: this number has absolutely no scientific merit) that your boss will simply forget they ever tried to friend you and you can continue to live your online life boss-free.
Be warned: there is a chance, however slight, that your boss may go back and confirm that they did in fact "friend" the right person. At this point, they’ll probably send you a message alerting you. In that case, you are to suddenly "find" the friend request and accept it. I’m sorry, my friend, but your online life is over.
You must now go through the debilitating process of sterilizing your online identity, shoving all the offending material under the bed. Goodbye college photos (or any photo where you’re holding a plastic cup). Farewell inappropriate group memberships. Sayonara foul-mouthed wall comments. The only information you should keep on your boss-appropriate social networking profile are:
Age (unless you’ve been lying about this)
Occupation (state your current job only)
Your profile photo should be gentle enough that you would feel comfortable showing it to your aging grandparents. Consider your profile now muzzled.
Unless you’re using Facebook! If you’re on Facebook, there is a way out.
On Facebook users can configure their privacy settings to control what people are allowed to see about them. (The creators have Facebook obviously had nosy bosses) You can set it so that only certain networks (those you went to college with, for example) are allowed to view photos, leave comments on your wall, view your status updates, have access to your posted items, etc. You may give networks access to as much or as little information about you as you’d like. Feel to hide personal information, screen name info, applications, or anything else contained in your profile. Once again, I recommend you set it so that your boss is only able to see the information available on your driver’s license.
You can also set up what is called a "limited profile" that allows you to determine which fields your boss or Not Friends are allowed to see. This is very handy. The only problem here is that you only have one limited profile. You can’t create separate profiles for separate groups. I can’t give my little brother access to one portion and then try and restrict the rest of my limited profile from seeing it. That’s what the privacy settings are for, so make sure you’re using everything correctly.
The Internet can be a scary place when you’re forced to invite your boss into your online home. If your boss comes a’knockin’, do your best to make it look like you’re not home. However, remember to never, ever reject a boss’s request to be your friend. This will eliminate your career advancement opportunities tremendously. Instead, invite them in and make them feel welcome. They don’t have to know they’re being confined to one very boring room. Like a puppy that can’t be trusted.