We have a number of groups who have used our “23 Mundane Moments that Can Make or Break Your Career” video services as excellent material to create team discussions on important topics.
One of those groups, a P&G group that is globally dispersed, has used small group discussion followed by an email summary to the rest of the group. I have been very impressed with their insights and results. They use the “23 Mundane Moments” as follow-up to our high impact “Persuasion, Perception, and Executive Presence” (PPEP) workshop.
One that occurred this week was on #12 Keeping Information Confidential
They identified how difficult it can be to keep information confidential and yet not cause others to feel that you do not trust them because you keep confidential information to yourself until the appropriate time.
The Real Test
This is one of the biggest challenges to the confidentiality principle; especially when there is important uncertainty or perceived injustice. Grapevines of information naturally form when the official information is not available.
Reorganizations and divestitures are of high importance for individuals. They also necessitate confidentiality as a part of the decision process. Most people understand the importance of confidentiality but many would like to be an exception (to be “in on” the confidential information). In the case of perceived individual injustice in a corporate environment, only one side (the complainer’s) of the story can be told in most cases.
One response you can use when asked about confidential information is, “I’m sorry, if I knew or didn’t know the answer, I would need to respect the confidentiality of the situation.”
It is not about trusting someone
Being unwilling to share confidential information with someone who does not have the ‘need to know’ is not a statement about not trusting the receiver of the information. If someone ever raises that as an issue you can deal with it directly as inherently untrue.
I live in a world of confidential information. I often have a ‘need to know’. Being totally trustworthy every time is essential for leaders to trust me. No exceptions! Also, I do not buy stock directly in the companies I serve. I would love to invest in these premier companies; however, I need to avoid being subject to “insider trading” whether true or suspected.
If you inappropriately share information with someone you trust, they may rightly hesitate to share information with you that you might, in turn, share in places they do not think appropriate (and you do). Being known as someone who keeps confidences of all kinds and does not make exceptions for “”friends” will continually build trustworthiness. The trust will be well deserved.
Avoid the temptation to share confidential information even with those you trust if they do not have a need to know. There are confidences I will carry to my grave. It’s often difficult. It is always necessary if you want to be trustworthy.