Twenty years ago, I had no idea what my boss did outside of work.
They were the kind of person that was in the office when I arrived (often late). Still there when I left (occasionally early).
If they had a social life, they kept it very much to themselves. I didn’t ask. I doubt they would have shared.
Which is why social media is quite a weird thing in a workplace setting. We live in a wider, sharing culture. People in organisations will often know what each other does; once the Slack notifications are paused.
I am now even that boss. Who uses Twitter. A lot. That is either followed directly, or could indirectly stumble in to the mentions or likes of the people I work with.
This does make me think about what I post. Not in the “Hanging out with my Honeys at Hollywoods in Romford.Yo!” sense – as that would be a lie. Yet there are boundaries around politics – we might one day be asking a Minister to approve a piece of work – or simple day to day stuff.
You know, the kind of release you might have said after a log day at work, on a Dance Music messageboard in the 90s and 00s. Safe in the knowledge that they were your weirdos. Now it’s out there for everyone to see. So, quite often, it really shouldn’t be.
There is also a flip to that. Sometimes you see something your team posts. Which brings a new element of working out how to manage that. How to approach it in these weird times.
The last thing you want to do is come across as the “cool parent” stood at a bedroom door.
“Hi Champ. Just checking in that everything is A.O.K? You know you can tell me anything”
There’s also an element of not wanting to jump on everything posted, because that is their social space. It’s not work. They don’t judge your lifestyle choices of mainlining fried chicken skin and orange wine, so why should you feel the need to respond to stuff they post.
This is where the phrase “duty of care” often kicks in. Maybe there is something there, and it is worth just following up on. An informal “I saw your tweet” chat. That inevitably goes nowhere, other than, hopefully, them understanding that if they wanted to talk – they know where I am.
It’s not easy. I definitely don’t always get it right, but there is clearly an environment where lives do become entwined – intentionally or otherwise – outside of the boundaries of the old 9-5 set up. We learn and adapt. So that if it doesn’t work out, we – I – try a different approach next time.
Where hopefully the team feel they have the support they need – beyond a like from @CoolDadIsBoss69.