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I’m Their Manager. Do I Have to Be Their (Facebook) Friend?




by Kelly Vandever

Corey Perlman sent a note to a client, “Congratulations on being a non-smoker for 10 years.”

Nice thing to do…right?  But how did he know his client was celebrating 10 years being a non-smoker?  That’s something that doesn’t come up in normal conversation.

He knew because she posted it on Facebook.  And Corey didn’t keep his personal life and his business life separate.  He’s Facebook friends with his clients.

It was Corey’s story that helped me finally get it.

The question really isn’t, should I be Facebook friends with my employees.

It’s about redefining what a professional relationship is.

Think about some of the colleagues you’ve had the best work relationship with.  How would you describe it? What ideas, what words come to mind?  Fun?  Trustworthy?  Smart?

How would those professional relationships be effected if you were their Facebook friend?

Say you saw a post where your colleague wished her son happy birthday…Zack-Bday-(1)


Or that in her daughter-in-law’s seven dwarfs, she came up as “Happy”… Kelly-Happy


Or that she liked a post from her friend who confessed to being addicted to stealing church pens…



Does that take away the professionalism of the relationship?  Does it impact any of the words you’d use to describe that colleague?

Now, what about employees you don’t already have a close relationship with?  Maybe someone you lead.

How would that relationship change if you felt more connected to them?  If they felt more connected to you?  You’re both real people with interests.  With family.  With friends.

The more we relate to one another as people, the more understanding and compassion we can create in the workplace.

The more compassion and understanding, the greater our ability to work well together.

The better our ability to work well together, the happier and more productive the workplace.

But what if you’re thinking to yourself…“This isn’t about making people happy.  This is work.  This is about getting business results.”

To you I say, “If you don’t want to have a better work environment because you’re a good person, do it because you want better business results.”

Every measurable indicator of business success is linked to having a more open, friendly work environment.

How do you redefine “professional relationship?”

Let’s put it in Facebook terms…

Care about the other person at work and at home

Pay attention – like their post when you see something that makes you laugh or makes you think

Show emotions – express compassion for the loss of a pet, congratulation them on giving up smoking

Let them know you’re thinking about them – mention them in a post that reminds you of them or you think they’d appreciate

Be open yourself – let employees get to know you at work and at home

Show your sense of humor – post or share things you find funny

Talk about people who are important to you – friends, family – it’s a way to say, see there are people who love me!

Reinforce ideas that are important to you – share/repost articles on work and life topics that you care about.

Redefine what it means to have a professional relationship

Integrate your personal and professional life.  Be the same wonderful person everywhere you go!

So how about it?  Ready to send out some friend requests?


Kelly Vandever is a leadership and communications expert who helps leaders and organizations thrive in today’s attention-deficit, entertain-me-now, wait-while-I-post-that-on-Facebook world.   Connect with Kelly and discover how opening up and speaking practically can bring you better business results. 

Contact Kelly by phone at 770-597-1108, email her or tweet her @KellyVandever.