With a whirlwind – if not a storm – of controversy surrounding the current President of the United States (POTUS), the FBI and Russia, our HR expert Becky Mee wrote this article for Linked In on confidentiality – not only does Mr Trump suffer from ‘fake news’ reports, apparently he has a case of loose talk too. But what about you? Do you have conversations you suddenly realise you should not be having? Here are 6 tips keep confidential information just that – confidential! (First, an observation from US Founding Father, Benjamin Franklin…)
By Becky Mee
Donald Trump has made the news this week on the topic of confidentiality, having allegedly shared confidential information with people who it wasn’t appropriate to share it with. This led me to think about how often in the work place we cause unnecessary drama for ourselves by having conversations with people we really shouldn’t be having!
Confidentiality is the thorn in the side of having an open and transparent communication culture. You want to share as much as you can so you can be open and honest with your team, but how much can you share that is appropriate for that level of the business to know?
Breaches of confidentiality are also breaches of trust. In sharing information with someone who is not in the immediate ‘need to know’ group you are building one person’s trust in you and their belief that you see them as important, whilst reducing someone else’s trust in your ability to keep shtum. Trading information to build relationships is an age old political trick, but the business fall out can be huge; ranging from sabotaged product launches, loss of IP to reduced USP. Think ‘loose lips sink ships’ and you’re not far off the mark.
Other negative effects can be creating a clique or information being shared which has a negative impact on the business. They also undermine us in front of other people and can cause people to question our integrity as well as intent. Once that’s gone, what are we left with as leaders?
So how can you move forward from a situation like this?
1 – Agree with your peers what your communication strategy will be for situations where there is confidential information that needs to be handled sensitively for business reasons.
2 – This sounds like stating the obvious, but confirm what can be shared and what stays within the four walls of your initial discussion.
3 – Agree who needs to know, why and when.
4 – Decide on how this will be done and what it looks like.
5 – Be prepared for questions and how to handle them.
6 – Finally, agree what the implications will be if confidentiality is breached and how to manage that.
Everyone will then be on the same page and aware of how important confidentiality is to your culture and moving your business forward.
If you are having issues with confidentiality, or communication styles in general in your business, HR180 are a team of outsourced HR superheroes who are able to assist. Our Mission Control boffins also offer support with communication strategies and improving your company’s culture.
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