Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Managers and Modern Times

According to some of my study materials, more than 300 million people now are on Facebook. Many managers and employees have moved beyond their working relationship by friending each other.

This seems like a pretty bad idea from both sides from my point of view. What about when working relationship turns bad? Managers can have far too much personal information if they have friended their employees, including some potentially within a protected category under federal or state employment laws. A dismissed or disciplined employee might later argue that information was the real reason for any adverse employment action. At the same time, managers leave themselves open for an adverse event. Who wants a their staff having access to what and where one was for the last several weekends, or pictures that might show a good time among friends that has the potential for embarrasment later?

Even harder, what to do when the boss is the one who sends the friend invitation? Is it better to say no, and probably insult them, or say yes, and have to double check everything that may be posted for potential conflicts? It's easy to say just don't use it, but the upside of Facebook is the ability to reestablish contacts with old friends and colleagues that would be immensely time-consuming otherwise. Not to mention the potential for networking if you're looking to advance in a career.

Which leads to once the friending is there, should one ever block or delist a supervisor? What kind of results will that have on a work relationship?

I wouldn't be surprised to see employment-related court cases start coming out in the next few years related to this stuff. People seem overly willing to let everything hang out now, without thinking about consequences down the road.

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