Ding. It’s a friend request. You’re so popular. One problem. It’s from one of your engagement partners. Awkward.
Now you have a dilemma. Are you obligated to say yes? Or, maybe, you let it sit in the unanswered request pile for eternity and pretend you never saw it. Weigh the options careful and may the odds be ever in your favor.
Sparking this discussion is CEO David Kalt’s blog on Wall Street Journal this week that encouraged executives to get to know their staff by requesting their friendship — on Facebook. He said:
Nearly every Monday, we welcome several new hires. Their first day is relatively normal by “first day at a new job” standards. They participate in training sessions. They shake hands with lots of new people. They shadow the customer engagement team.
And then it gets weird: I friend them on Facebook.
David claims that Facebook connections help you understand and empathize with your people and, meanwhile, they offer a way for execs to humanize themselves to their subordinates. Theoretically, even though you control their lives, being Facebook friends could make someone less on edge when they interact with you.
Still, the handful of positives does not outweigh the potential of invading too far into someone’s personal life. Does a partner:
- Really want to hear staff complain about work on Facebook?
- Need to see what questionable activities staff participate in after hours?
- Want to comment on your political rant?
I think not.
David is the first to admit it could be disastrous:
Of course, this tactic – like most – has the potential to backfire. You might end up with information you wish you didn’t know. Your attempt to relate to younger employees by, for example, using a Bitmoji, could be misconstrued. But at the very least, you’ll open the door for more meaningful conversations and stronger relationships.
While meaningful relationships and building a great rapport with everyone you work with is great, maybe this isn’t the right avenue. What about going out to lunch instead? I have a feeling that in this instance it’s unfortunate that the generational technology gap is shrinking. A decade ago wondering if it was a good idea to friend your boss wasn’t even an issue since it didn’t happen in the first place.
Before you click accept, don’t forget to think long term. Everyone has those friends that you can’t unfriend but probably should. And, what do you do when you jump ship and get out of public?
Or, on the flip side, what should a partner or manager do when their first and second-year staff stay their obligatory year or two in public accounting and quit, is it an automatic defriend? Should this be part of the termination protocol? Sure, why not! Oh, and they should wipe their phone while you’re at it too.
It’s a slippery slope, my friends. So, where do you draw the line?
Image: Unsplashed / William Iven