My staff are becoming too familiar. Where’s the line?

Dear Aunty B,


Most of my staff are 10 years younger than me, but we are more like friends than boss and workers. We work long hours (software development) and then sometimes socialise together.

But yesterday I was asked by my pretty personal assistant to be a “friend online”. I went to her MySpace page and was absolutely shocked!!

How do I remain her friend offline and not online?? (And how do I wipe from my brain what I saw?)


L. Giles,



Dear L,

You have strayed into dangerous territory, my friend, and you need to take instant action.

Forget being pretty personal assistant’s friend. Instead give her an instant promotion – to a far away branch office.

Then remind yourself who your ‘real’ friends are – ring them up and apologise for neglecting them and go out with them.

From now on decline all requests for staff to be a ‘friend’, telling them you are too busy working on business strategy and budgets – and then look at them meaningfully so they get back to their work instead of playing around on Facebook.

And remember – you only use those networking sites to spy on potential employees – not to socialise with them.

Remember what we wrote last week?

Employers in the SmartCompany Opinion Leaders Poll told us they don’t think Gen-Y know how to behave appropriately in the workplace. How on earth are they going to find the boundary between their public and personal lives if you have no idea?





Graham Wilson writes: I found myself in the following position after a shift manager became so friendly with my wife in our franchised business of seven years, that after being basically told to back off, she took the keys to our business and locked me out. After calling police, she surrendered the keys and was dismissed. She took me to court and tried to claim unfair dismissal. She nearly nailed me, but with our trusty inhouse lawyers we nailed her. So the moral to this story is; draw a big red line down the middle, and don’t let staff on your turf. It really can go to their heads.



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