Getting Too Close Or Personal With Your Boss
By Mark Swartz
Monster Contributing Writer
Should you Friend your boss on Facebook? Is it a good idea to go drinking with them after work?
Some experts claim the way to woo your boss is to turn them into your pal. It will lower the barriers between you, they claim. And when it comes time for raises and promotions (or getting downsized), your chummy boss is more likely to treat you favourably.
But is there such a thing as getting too close or personal?
Social Media Closeness
Surely it's OK to Friend your boss on Facebook. It's a harmless gesture, right? Well, it can be. Unless you appear in photos taken that day you stayed off work, claiming to be sick. Or if you don't want people at work knowing your political and religious views you post about.
Friending your boss - or giving them access to your private areas on any social media site - can backfire. Yes, you get to brag to your co-workers that your boss accepted your invitation. Also you and your boss can learn more about each other personally, by virtue of your respective posts, photos, and Tweets.
But this inside info could come back to hurt you at work. Loose lips sink ships, and people's lips on social media often flap too much, revealing damaging details about their personal lives.
One way around this is to Friend your boss yet protect your privacy from them. On Facebook you can do this by adding your boss to a List, then excluding that list from seeing certain info. Also be sure to prevent other friends from being able to tag you in photos, or check you into locations, without your permission. Otherwise you may unknowingly pop up somewhere embarrassing.
Friendliness Outside of Work
Playing softball with your boss on Sunday afternoons. Sharing drinks after work and swapping stories. Nice ways to let your hair down and befriend the higher ups.
There's a chance, though, that you might take things too far. This can happen readily if you and your boss could potentially be a romantic pair. In that case, you'll need to set boundaries. Be watchful for unwanted advances (either from them toward you, or from you toward them).
Another way you could cross the line is to make personal remarks that your boss might feel offensive. Religion, politics and race can make for lively discussions. However these topics can get out of hand real quick if one or the other side voices strong opinions.
It's possible too that people at work will get jealous of the special time you spend with your boss off-hours. If you start getting treated better than other employees at work, it could lead to accusations of unfairness. So let your boss know to try and keep things normal around the office despite your outside friendship.
Closeness On The Job
The same perks and warnings from above apply in the workplace itself. Even more so, possibly, because other employees can see (or sometimes overhear) how you behave with the boss.
That means there is more of a risk that you could be viewed by your colleagues as a "kiss up," which is someone who is always trying to befriend management strictly for their own benefit. If you gain that sort of reputation, others may treat you with less respect (or try to sabotage you).
That's why you may want to be friendlier with your boss when in private. Behind closed doors it's only you and them who know what's being said. Not so when addressing your boss by phone, e-mail and text. The employer may have access to these exchanges, so strive to maintain professionalism here.
The Personal Touch
There's nothing wrong with being friends with your boss, or with other managers. Fact is it's a great way of bonding with those who have a measure of control over your career. It would be foolish to overlook the importance of being liked by your superiors.
At the same time, going overboard can cause you trouble. Trying to be too friendly, or getting overly personal, could make your boss feel uncomfortable (while turning your co-workers queasy with envy). Strike a balance that lets you and your boss become closer, while respecting boundaries. Your reputation, and your relationship with your boss, depend on it.