November 21, 2011

sure you want to talk office politics on facebook?

A reader asks:

Dear Wannabe|Employee,
Some of my colleagues at work are also my Facebook friends. I don't think this is an issue, but when they start talking office politics or complaining about their bosses in their posts I do feel that they are being inappropriate. Is it OK to talk shop on personal sites when you know colleagues can view your comments? Should I not be adding colleagues as friends at all?

Excellent question! There are various outlooks on this topic, so in stead of giving you a list of do's and dont's, here are some questions you can ask yourself:

  • Do I really want to mix business with pleasure?: In order to avoid this ambiguity, I have decided to spare myself the confusion and separate the two. I add personal contacts on Facebook and professional contacts on LinkedIn. There is no rule against mixing the two, but separating my contact groups is the easiest way for me to avoid this dilemma in the first place.
  • What is the message I'm sending?: Like I mentioned in a previous post, everything you do and say affects your personal brand either positively or negatively. If you are polite in the office, but everyone can see your accusing and rude comments online, do you think people view you as someone with integrity? You might be giving everyone the impression that you are just another average employee who enjoys complaining about their job, so why not use Facebook as yet another way of building your reputation and posting things that show your positive attitude and strong character?
  • What if my friend becomes my manager?: The reality is that things can change at any time in your organisation, and your friend may end up being your boss. Do you think he will trust you with sensitive information if he knows you love online office gossip? Do you think he will recommend you for promotions? Any negative thing you say about your employer online becomes reason for him to doubt your loyalty to the company.
  • Looking like a coward?: Let's face it, complaining about your boss or organisation online (behind their backs) instead of being part of the solution will send the message that you are someone who is quick to throw stones and not interested in taking positive action. It won't get you fired but it does show that you are not interested in making a difference or handling issues head-on.
  • Should I just delete all my colleagues as Facebook friends?: I'm sure it will come across as being insensitive if you just delete them all, but letting them know that you're making an effort to move all your professional contacts from Facebook to LinkedIn may be received positively by some. If you have good friends at work you would like to keep as Facebook friends, have you considered adding them to a "colleagues" group that you can hide selected posts from? This means screening each comment or photo album before sharing, but if you're willing to spend the extra seconds each time you post, this might be your best alternative.

This is something we could talk about for hours. In the end something as casual as Facebook is a way of communicating your values. Regardless of who you share with, your comments will always influence the way people perceive you and the level to which they respect you, even in a personal capacity.

What are your thoughts on this? Check out some other related posts:

1 comment:

  1. Very interesting post! It's better to separate personal and professional contacts. I like this post. You really made me think and ask myself those questions. People love to post what's on their mind and we can't stop it. That's how Facebook works. Thanks for reminding us that Facebook is also a way of communicating our values. I will keep that in mind.


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