I am a manager of an entry-level employee who share with another manager. Our shared employee, let’s call her “Jane,” is terrific — a hard worker, very smart, quick, and organized. Jane has been with us over two years and we would like to promote her, something she’s clearly earned, but our progress has been stalled by the pandemic. And though we’re working to push the promotion forward as quickly as possible, with budget cuts to contend with, this has been slower and more difficult than expected.

Meanwhile, Jane has shared with our team (including my boss, her grandboss) that she’s interested in returning to school for graduate study but was not sure when she’d want to attend. However, later Jane confidentially asked me to write her a recommendation letter to include in an application for study beginning this fall. I happily agreed and we discussed that she didn’t want this shared more widely, so I wrote the letter and kept it to myself. A few weeks ago, Jane texted me that she’d been accepted to grad school. I was thrilled for her but concerned about her departure. She stated that it was her intention to defer until 2021 due to the pandemic. We love Jane and I’m happy to have her as long as she’d like to stay, and again kept it to myself per her wishes.

Today, to my surprise, my boss called my attention to a tweet that Jane had shared, publicly on her personal account, announcing that she’d been accepted to grad school. My boss was blindsided since she didn’t think of this as an immediate plan and was particularly upset because HER boss (my grandboss and Jane’s great-grandboss, our president) was the one who saw it and alerted her of it. What’s worse is that my boss’s boss has been the one doing the hard work in negotiating Jane’s promotion with HR. Worse worse, after sharing this development, my co-manager (who shares management of Jane with me) revealed that she too had learned of Jane’s acceptance on Twitter. For the record, this tweet is about 10 days old at this point — time for Jane to have made a plan to speak directly and openly about it at work if she chose to.

I’m all for private use of social media and the right to have an online presence that is separate from your work. However, this puts me in an embarrassing position. I was honest with my boss when confronted, confessing that I did know about her acceptance and had provided a reference, but I can’t help but feel a little taken advantage of after Jane had asked me to keep it confidential. Additionally, her other boss heard of this news on social media and so did people above her who are gunning for her promotion — valued coworkers of mine and superiors of Jane who now feel disrespected for being out of the loop. I do not believe that Jane’s attendance at or deferment from grad school should affect her eligibility for a promotion, but it will surely be another hurdle to overcome among many other pandemic-related ones now that the news is out in this manner.

Extra notes: 1) Jane has previously announced 10-day vacations on Instagram (plane tickets booked) before asking for the time off. 2) Jane runs our company social media channels, so people look at her personal ones with scrutiny.

I feel compelled to speak with Jane in a friendly but direct way to explain that it’s her choice how or with whom she’d like to share her news, but that social media is not the place for bosses, grandbosses, or great-grandbosses should discover employment-altering news. Ever, really, but particularly when we’re working hard for her promotion. How can I do this without overstepping? Am I overstepping?

  • 1
    >Jane is entry level employee.

    We all make mistakes, we all have fucked up.

    Communication is the best tool to resolve this.
  • 5
    Doesn't sound like you're over stepping to me. Jane needs to learn a life lesson that she needs to tell important people her plans before announcing them to the Internet. Not just work related.

    Also, to me this seems a mismatch :

    "Jane is a entry level employee"

    "Jane runs the company's social media"

    This is far too critical to be the responsibility of a entry level employee IMHO
  • 0
    @dooter is she still entry level after two years?
  • 0
    If you didn't talk about the second thing and the fact that she does your social media, I would have guessed that she didn't know her co-workers watched her profile and just wanted to announce it to her more private/casual bubble.

    I'm unsure about the vacation thing. Maybe she skrewed up and somehow "got sold" on taking this vacation due to some discount, ad, recommendation or relationship opportunity. If that isn't the case you may need to make clear that she can't "ask you" as in bullying you say "yes" because it would severely incovienence her. Maybe just warn her, that you won't let this fly next time or outright deny it, if she doesn't have a damn good reason or didn't have vacation in ages.
  • 0
    Telling her as it is would not be over-stepping any line.

    However I would think twice about mentioning her other social media incidents at it might seem petty to say "We also remember you announcing vacations before asking us" and that might lead to a debate.
  • 0
    I'm curious about the school recommendation - what did you assume was gonna happen? did you just assume she'd tell the company first if she got accepted?

    Maybe it should've been stated more clearly that it was important she told the company first if she did.
    (Allrhough that's easy to say in hindsight... At the time I'm sure it was easily assumed she'd have the common sense to do so)
  • 0
    @nibor I think it depends.
    For some companies the socialMediaRole is probably just about getting pre-approved content and posting it in a timely manner

    It would almost feel like an insult to say "We require senior experience for posting this!"
  • 0
    I would just let her know that the bosses know about her tweet and grad school acceptance now, and that they are upset not to have been in the loop.
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