Posted on / Updated on / in Blog & HR Policies /

“The friends of my friends are my friends.” I believe that is attributed to John LeCarre is his book Mission Song. Or perhaps it came from Winnie-the-Pooh. Either way, it is more than good sentiment – it is good advice to remember if you engage in social networking and are considering “friending” your colleagues or, even worse, your boss or employees.

I’m not saying it should be outlawed completely, but that you should proceed with great caution. For one, is this network for social and for business colleagues? If so, you may not want current business affiliates in the mix. There are certainly drawbacks to letting your colleagues, boss, and staff learn too much about your life away from work (or your life in college or high school, as ghosts from days past often resurface – as do photographs).  Think about it.  Do you really want those who you associate with on a professional level to see you in your most “social” moments?

One thing to consider is the workplace climate – is everyone in the department or organization joining in an effort to work toward better communication? That can be a great tool, but I would advise, even then, that everyone be encouraged to set up a second profile under the company email address – one that is business colleagues only.  After all, your work life and social life are essentially separate entities otherwise aren’t they?

The simple reason is this – your friends will become their friends.  In other words, your work colleagues, employees, and boss will be able to read whatever your social friends post about you and write on your wall, and they will be able to see whatever picture they decide to place there, too. So, not only do you have to be on your best behavior, but you have to make sure your old college buddies and ex-girlfriends are, too. Think you can control all of that?

Nor can I or anyone for that matter.  It might be best to remember the words of Ralph Waldo Emerson, “It is is one of the blessings of old friends that you can afford to be stupid with them.” Let’s make sure we stay smart with our work relationships – if social media is the key, take the time to set up a new profile, and keep it monitored closely.

Does your company currently have a social media policy in place? Not just what to do when someone is playing online during work hours, but how to handle warranted terminations based on information obtained on social media sites. or even what warrants discipline? If you’re missing vital information in this area, it’s time for a social media policy update.  IntegrityHR can help.

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about the author: Amy Letke

Amy Newbanks Letke, SPHR, GPHR, is the Founder of Integrity HR, Inc. Amy provides workplace solutions to improve performance, reduce liability and increase profits. She is passionate about helping other entrepreneurs and business owners achieve success.