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Why Co-Workers Don’t Make Good Facebook Friends

Why Co-Workers Don’t Make Good Facebook Friends

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Do you consciously think about every single thing you put on Facebook taking into consideration exactly who will be reading what you write? Do you have co-workers as Facebook friends? If so, there are many things to consider in regards to your personal and career brand when it comes to Facebook. The lack of considering anything at all can absolutely cause you to lose your job.

Yet, so many people are either unaware of them or do not fully understand the ramifications of the content they might share online. For millions of people, this includes sharing their page and their personal lives with their co-workers. Many people feel that co-workers are just “buddies from work” and all is well as long as the bosses aren’t their Facebook friends. If this describes your thoughts about co-workers as Facebook friends, you may be in for a rude awakening.

Why Co-Workers Don’t Make Good Facebook Friends

As a general rule of thumb, I advise people to not invite or accept co-workers as Facebook friends unless their posts, pictures, and videos are not deeply personal and are always clean, upbeat, and in good taste. Some people do choose to invite co-workers, managers, and other professionals because they are intentionally using Facebook to leverage their career brand. This is a great way to use Facebook and I highly encourage it.

However, this general rule applies to those who use Facebook for more personal use – which seems to be the majority of people. It is for those who typically friend their co-workers without much thought. I recognize that your best friend and someone you trust with your life might be your co-worker and Facebook friend. I am not necessarily talking about those people, just any co-worker who does not fall in that “best friend” category.

Does Your Facebook Content Look Like This?

  • “I hate Mondays,” “Why am I at work when I would rather be somewhere else,” “What a long day… wish it was over,” “Not looking forward to going back to the grind tomorrow,” “Can’t wait to the head to the bar to get my drunk on,” “Sometimes I just want to beat the crap out of people,” “I swear my life sucks,” “Why is everyone a backstabber,” or anything even remotely similar.
  • Drama related content – telling everyone about issues going on in your life.
  • Arguing or using profane language.
  • Videos, photos, and articles that are in bad taste (profane or sexually explicit content).
  • “Liking” pages that are in bad taste (ex: Yourname likes “I hate my job!”)

Consider The Ramifications:

Many employees talk and gossip on a regular basis. They can’t help themselves. Who are they sharing your content with? Your boss? Another co-worker who might share it with your boss? Maybe. How do you know they aren’t?

A co-worker might not intentionally share what you post but it gets out anyway due to frustration on his or her part. Typical scenario: Boss asks your co-worker to stay late to work on a project and to ask for your help. Co-worker inadvertently says, “She won’t help, she’s been posting all over Facebook how she can’t wait to get out of here to go to happy hour.” The boss makes a mental note of it and considers that and other things he might have heard when evaluating your potential for advancement in the company.

If you want to ever advance in a company, you should not be posting statements like that on Facebook! It gives the impression that you don’t really like your job and if you can’t tell your boss about what you just posted, don’t give anyone who can, the ability to read it.

What if a co-worker Facebook friend gets promoted and now is your boss or is a manager elsewhere in the company – a person who might now have a say about your future potential with the company? The facts are, you can be a model employee at work but people typically cannot separate what they learn about on you on Facebook from your great work on the job. Careless postings on Facebook can shatter your strong career brand no matter how great your performance is at work.

What if you take a sick day but you go out to lunch and then check in at the restaurant on Facebook or Foursquare, which subsequently posts on your page? Or maybe you just mention your lunch in an unrelated Facebook conversation that evening. Either way, your integrity is now in question. Situations like this can also cause you to be fired!

First of all, you should never call in sick when you are not and then go somewhere. Somehow, people tend to always get caught. But if no one spotted you out there eating and shopping on your sick day, you just confessed to lying about being sick right on Facebook for all your co-worker “friends” to see.

Lastly, let’s say you are at work “doing your job.” But throughout the day, your Facebook page is somehow publishing a stream of updates from various games like Mafia Wars, Cityville or other games. Your co-worker Facebook friend notices this and talks about it at the water cooler. It eventually gets back to your boss. These kinds of things really do happen and this is another example of a situation that can cause you to be terminated from employment.

It’s Time For Damage Control

Regardless of this, I can’t stress enough how important it is to always act with the highest level of integrity when it comes to your work. Then, you don’t even have to read an article such as this because it would not apply to you.

But outside of that, be cautious about adding co-workers to your Facebook page because if you have not yet noticed, what you do on your own time is not your own personal business anymore because when you add co-workers to your friend list, the lines between work and your personal life become blurred. And please make sure that your page is visible to friends “only.” If your page is public, anyone can read it and then it doesn’t even matter if you add co-workers to your page or not.

If you have not been careful about the quality of your content and you have co-workers as Facebook friends, you should start doing a bit of damage repair. Remove controversial content and start posting good quality content on your page so the perception others have of you begins to change.

After a month or two of that, I’d remove them all or simply block them from your wall and if asked, just state you want to keep your personal and professional life separate. You can put all your co-workers in a list and try to block them from individual updates as you see fit, but trust me, the time will come when you forget to do it. And, it really is much more important to have your co-workers trust and respect you than to have them as Facebook friends.


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Jessica Simko Jessica Simko is a senior-level HR Consultant and job search/career strategist. Please feel free to download her FREE report on "The Job Interview Game."