Social media may be blurring the boundaries between work and play, but there is a universal truth for the 21st century – never “friend” your boss. When the wine is flowing at the company dinner, it may seem like a good idea to pull out your iPhone and click that link. But stop right there. Do you really want him browsing through the pictures from your last holiday?
Take the cautionary tale of Diligent Darlene, a career-minded girl who graduated at the top of her class. She put in long hours and worked hard to build a credible reputation in a blue chip company. As a result, she was trusted with some of the company’s most important clients. And she played just as hard as she worked. At the weekends, Diligent Darlene became Daring Darlene, a favourite around the nightclubs for her dirty dancing and sexy moves. Her hemlines rose, her lipstick was several shades of redder, and she swapped her sensible shoes for killer stilettos.
But Darlene’s career hit a very thick glass ceiling. Her key accounts have been reassigned and her management training course training course has been postponed indefinitely. The company-minded public image she spent years constructing has been shattered by one quick click.
And Facebook is not the only danger. Think carefully before you Tweet that you are bargain-hunting at the mall or enjoying your court side seats, when your boss thinks you’re on sick leave.
In the United Kingdom, Apple sacked an employee for dissing the company on Twitter. The dismissal has been upheld by the Employment Tribunal because her employment contract was very clear on the matter. You may think that protection in the United States is tighter. After all, in two recent cases, the National Labour Relations Board has ruled that private conversations on Facebook should not result in dismissal.
The NLRB rulings mean that your boss may hesitate to sack you for inappropriate social media content. However, there are other ways to kill a career. Just ask poor Dejected Darlene.