Should CIOs “Friend” People That They Work With?

Friending colleagues can be a tricky business
Friending colleagues can be a tricky business
Image Credit: Photo by Tim Bennett on Unsplash

So just exactly what is this “friendship” thing? For that matter how important is it? For most CIOs, friendship is very important. We’d all like to have as many friends as we possibly can. However, in this day and age we often indicate our friendship with someone by “friending” them in online social media sites. As both you and I know, friendships can change over time and so that brings up the big question: should we friend people at work if we may just end up un-friending them online later on?

The Challenge Of Social Media Friends

I think that we can all agree that one of the key lessons that people who have the CIO job have been taught is that it is in our own best interest to have the largest professional network that we can have. If we can expand this network via social media then it’s got to be a good thing because then we’ll be able to get more connections and personal recognition. The problem with this is that social media relationships can be tricky things to manage well. Done correctly, they can boost workplace harmony by increasing productivity, helping with employee retention, and increasing job satisfaction. If not done well, they can cause conflicts and make employees uncomfortable.

The problem here is that most people in the CIO position are responsible for making sure that people get the best out of social media while they are able to avoid the worst. The big problem is that not enough CIOs are thinking about this issue. The problem is that CIOs who have implemented a social media policy generally focus on content and restrict what employees can and cannot say on social media. What they don’t provide any guidance on is how to handle social media relationships between colleagues. So what should CIOs be doing?

Separate Your Friends

Every workplace contains two very different types of employees. One set wants to keep their personal and work lives separate. The other has no problem combining and mixing up the two. As CIO you are going to have to realize that these two different types of workers exist and provide them with the respect that they need. The first thing that you need to do is to find out who belongs to which group. Once this is known, a list can be published so people in the workplace will know who they can and cannot invite to join them on the different social media tools.

CIOs Should Not Friend Employees

This seems almost like everyone should already know about it. You really don’t want bosses friending the people who work for them. If they do this, then there is the very real chance that they might run into rules having to do with harassment and hostile workplace issues. Generally bosses don’t want to know what the people who work for them are doing on social media. One interesting challenge comes about when a worker gets promoted to a boss position. What should they do – unfriend all of their coworkers? Generally changing their settings so that they share less information with their workers is the best thing to do.

Stay Away From Conflicts

Hopefully it goes without saying that while using social media, people need to stay away from hot buttons such as sex, religion, and politics. These topics can easily lead to conflicts. Things such as differing views on politics are one of the most common reasons why people end up un-friending each other. Workers probably also want to stay away from talking about work conditions or their pay.

What All Of This Means For You

Social media is a big deal. Because of this, CIOs need to take the time to think about if they should be “friending” the people that they work with. Doing so can help with networking and can allow information to flow more freely in the workplace. At the same time, it may put a strain on a relationship and may make some people feel uncomfortable. What is a CIO to do?

We need to understand that social media can help us to extend our networks; however, at the same time it may cause conflicts and make people uncomfortable. Most CIOs have social media policies in place, but they just cover content and not friending. CIOs need to understand that there are two types of people in the workplace: people who keep their work and private life separate in social media, and people who combine the two. CIOs need to be careful to not friend the people who work for them for fear of causing harassment issues. When you are creating social media content, stay away from issues that have to do with sex, religion, and politics.

CIOs need to learn how to use social media to enhance the workplace. Social media can be a great way for people to connect and share ideas. However, there is a dark side to social media and so CIOs need to be careful to make sure that they don’t place anyone in a difficult position by friending them. Take a careful look at who you are connecting with online and make sure that it will benefit both of you before you ask them to friend you!

– Dr. Jim Anderson
Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World IT Department Leadership Skills™

Question For You: If you decide to un-friend someone, do you think that you need to tell them first?

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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

I’m pretty sure that just about every CIO has heard about artificial intelligence (AI) by now. This technology is starting to revolutionize a lot of the ways that we live our lives. AI is showing up in our cell phones and helps us to remember to do things, shows us places that we’d probably like to go based on places that we’ve been in the past, and can even recommend people that we might like to be friends with. At the same time AI is working its way into our homes via devices such as Amazon’s Echo products. What the person with the CIO job needs to realize is that their company needs to be involved with AI right now or else they stand the very real chance that their competition is going to end up passing them by.

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