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Dr. Kirstin Ferguson Talks Work & Social Media, Flags Her Boss, & More

Each week, Dr. Kirstin Ferguson tackles questions about the workplace, career, and leadership in her advice column “Got a Minute? “This week, a manager who does not respect personal boundaries, a boss who does not weigh in and the temptation to change jobs.

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My boss contacted me on social media and I find it scary. I ignored his Facebook friend request but he followed me on Instagram where I share personal photos. I feel like I can’t have personal privacy. Is this normal? What should I do?

If you find this attention scary, then it is. Not everyone will feel the same as you as it depends on individual circumstances and the type of relationship you have with your manager. But it sounds like to you, you feel like your boss doesn’t respect your personal boundaries and needs to respect them, both at work and at home. This is your social media profile, so you decide how you use it.

On platforms where you don’t want him to see your messages, block or disable him. It might take him a while to realize that he doesn’t see a lot of messages from you and hopefully he just takes the hint. Keep ignoring his Facebook friend request. The chances of him asking you why you’re ignoring him on social media are probably slim. If he does, you can let him know that you like to keep your work and personal life separate. He should accept this explanation and move on. If he continues to discuss it with you or becomes angry, including any repercussions at work, seek further guidance, as any type of harassment is a serious matter.

My boss is scamming the company we work for by spending most of the day with his office door closed working on the sidelines rather than doing the work for which he is very well paid. He spoke openly about it to our team. I work for a public company and I really like my job, but for the past 18 months my boss has pushed all the work to me and my colleagues, refusing to accept any responsibility and even leaving work at noon and not not returning, or just not turning up to work at all. His boss is his friend and only visits our site every two to three weeks, so he doesn’t know what’s going on. What do I do? Should I report him as an anonymous whistleblower? Should I write an anonymous letter to HR or the CEO? Should I just suck it up and do nothing about it, hoping it gets found out?

You are in a difficult position. Report it, even anonymously, and there are risks for you. Do nothing and you turn a blind eye to someone doing the wrong thing. There may also be a potential financial conflict of interest in the work of his secondary activity. Your boss is doing the wrong thing on many levels.

Finding a safe way for you to talk is essential. Call an independent, anonymous whistleblower hotline if your company has one. There are protections that will be passed on to you – ask the hotline to explain how this will work. If there is no helpline you can call, your company should have policies explaining how to file a complaint and how you will be protected. Writing an anonymous letter to your CEO or HR manager will bring the matter to the company’s attention, but anonymous letters are much harder to investigate and substantiate. Your boss will be questioned about it and will likely try to explain the situation, whereas a formal complaint is more likely to have their behavior addressed.

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How many times can you change jobs without it hurting your career? I love the industry I work in and have no plans to leave, but I get bored easily and often think about my next move. The longest time I have been with the same company was five years and I have been in my current role for just over two years. I envy those people who manage to keep the same job or work for the same employer much longer. Over time, should I learn to value longevity and loyalty over change?

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