If you are “friends” with your boss on Facebook, now is a great time to reboot your relationship. Facebook has introduced two new features that can change the way people relate on Facebook. Now we can stop pretending our relationship with closest friends and family is that same as it is with our direct supervisor.
With Facebook’s new subscription feature, you can follow your boss’s public posts without unintentionally revealing your personal life. And since your boss has most of the power in your relationship, we feel s/he should enable his or her account for a more appropriate relationship.
Here’s how to properly fire your boss on Facebook. (This is option 1 for nice bosses. See below for less-nice bosses.)
- Unfriend your boss now.
- Ask your boss to activate Facebook subscriptions by going to this page.
- Encourage your boss to open his/her public posts to comments, so you can respond to his/her posts.
- Subscribe to the feeds of your boss you’re interested in.
Making these changes will avoid crossing work with play. It also keeps open a channel of communication if, say, your boss has additional shifts or projects for you to take on. Plus your boss won’t know that you turned down extra work to go to a concert—unless you make that post public and open your profile to subscribers.
The “Subscribe” button brings “asymmetrical relationships” to Facebook profiles for the first time. Asymmetrical relationships exist when one side enjoys some privilege over another as an employer, teacher or supervisor might. And these asymmetrical online relationships create are sparking controversy.
Some union leaders have advised teachers to limit their social networking in general to shield them from claims of abuse. And the US government recently restored the jobs of four employees who used Facebook to discuss the workplace in a harsh but appropriate manner. But the line between appropriate and inappropriate discussion is fine and evolving.
Missouri recently passed a law restricting teachers from Facebook friending any children, including their own. It’s currently being blocked by a judge but a law like this suggests that many people are at a loss on how to relate asymmetrically on Facebook.
By unfriending your boss and subscribing, you’re setting up clear boundaries that are less likely create complications in the workplace.
Now, if you’re already friends with your boss and you’re not comfortable “bossing” them around online, you have another way to stop your private and work lives bleeding together. Here’s option 2 for less-nice bosses.
- Wait till “smart lists” are active for you on Facebook. (If you open your page to subscriptions, you’ll likely get smart lists soon if not immediately.)
- Add your boss to your “Restricted list”, which means they’ll only have access to your public posts.
- Consider using a List or Group for co-workers/work related discussions.
Using Facebook responsibly requires us to turn on the good features Facebook offers—like Profile Review. And changing your online relationship with your boss/“friend” to more closely resemble real life is a smart way to protect your job and your future.