Category Archives: Confidentiality

Loose Lips and Predator Colleagues

Maintaining confidentiality in relationships with colleagues, students, and allied professionals is crucial to upholding the dignity of any professional relationship, fundamental to the management of relationships. A colleague who is not capable of that is not a colleague but is a predator. Maintaining confidentiality – or even simply respecting a relationship –  builds on the ability to have open and honest communication in the workplace secure in the knowledge that any information will not be shared with those you do not wish it to be shared with.

The Link Between Trust and Confidentiality

When you earn the reputation of someone who can be relied on to respect confidences, you command the respect and trust of people around you and build deeper friendships. In business, trustworthy people are more likely to sell more products, built a larger customer base, receive more benefits, lead stronger teams and enjoy earlier promotions. More importantly, though, to those among us who enjoy a degree of integrity, that reputation means that colleagues trust us and are comfortable with us. For leaders, this trait is vital – without it they will never obtain the relationships that will support their leadership. They will never be effective leaders. The ability to manage oneself, to control ones own behaviours, is an essential tool in the adult managers toolbox – not respecting confidential material exposes the lack of that maturity for the world to see.

Respecting and Keeping Confidences

Are you someone who can be trusted with private and confidential information?

Here are a few tips when it comes to keeping confidences:

  • Never share information that you have been asked to keep confidential.
  • Use your judgment when it comes to matters of implied confidentiality.
  • Keep things confidential that were intended to be confidential even if a relationship breaks down.
  • Do not vent your private marital or relationship issues with your friends. This will cause them to view your spouse or significant other differently, probably negatively.
  • When someone says, “I was asked to keep this in confidence, but I can share it with you,” let them know that you’d rather not be involved.

The next time you consider sharing information, be sure to ask yourself if there is a chance that the person who shared the information with you would like it kept confidential. If that is the case, don’t share it.

When you keep things confidential that should be confidential, you will gain the reputation as a person who can be trusted, and you will grow strong in character and value. Clearly, the lack of that ability has the opposite effect.  Leaders, effective managers, have this knowledge innately; for others it may be more of a struggle to control their impulse to share. For them, they will have to wait until their professional maturity kicks in  and they understand in a meaningful way the profound importance of confidentiality, trust, and relationship management. Until they understand how profoundly important that is they will never achieve the maturity they need to perform effectively.

Your boss, the Idea Stealer.

Your boss, the Idea Stealer, who takes your ideas, passes them off as hers, covers her tracks, leaves no traces of pilfering or a break-in, and does it all without witnesses seeing it happening. With thanks to  Linnda Durre, Ph.D. for the concept. 

SITUATION: Your boss is basically a thief – she steals your ideas and passes them off as her own. You’ll be sitting at a meeting, read it in the monthly report, or you’ll hear something like “XXX had a great idea of combining two departments into one and she told us today in the weekly meeting….” You realize it was your idea that you shared with your boss last week.  Sometimes you and your boss worked on it together, but mostly it’s your idea. She’s clever enough to take your ideas when there are no witnesses who could vouch for you.

You feel betrayed and rightly so. You may be passed over for recognition, promotions, raises, and acknowledgement because your boss passes off your ideas as hers. She’s so clever that she convinces herself that it’s her idea, and tries to convince you of the same. Don’t let her convince you to capitulate, giving her credit, rights, or royalties from your work.  Like a leech she drains others’ brilliant concepts and innovations and sucks the oxygen right out of the room

Since she’s your boss, it’s difficult to confront her. You want her to like you and like your work, and you’d also like to climb the ladder yourself.   However, she will keep you working under her because she needs you and your ideas –you make her look like a genius, so most likely, she will not promote you,  and she will guard you like Ft. Knox because you’re worth a gold mine to her. She feels you’re her possession. She may discourage other bosses from pirating you away by telling them you’re really not that good. She’ll demean you to others to hoard you for her own.

If you demand it, she may give you a salary uplift to keep you happy and to secure your place in her department.  When she gets a promotion, she may take you with her, to keep up the flow of ideas that she can use as her own.  She may ask your opinion and you may inadvertently give her gold nuggets of ideas that she passes off as her own.

If you want to claim credit for your own ideas, you have to send your ideas to HER boss as quickly as you get them in your head so you can protect your innovative solutions as your own without him stealing them. You may want to send yourself the ideas as a certified return receipt requested letter, so you have a date when you created your ideas. If you have more lucrative ideas that need intellectual property protection, then find a lawyer and register them as copyrights, patents, and trademarks.

There are solutions to this, and  Linnda Durre, Ph.D., Author of Surviving the Toxic Workplace – Protect Yourself Against Co-workers Bosses and Work Environments That Poison Your Day published by McGraw Hill, February 19, 2010, on whom this blog post was based, has plenty of good ones to offer. My solution, though, is simple. Leave. Go now, leave by the first door you see, pack your stuff, sign the resignation  letter, wave goodbye, and LEAVE!

Life is too short to put up with a boss you do not trust, whose practice you do not respect, with whom a real working relationship is almost impossible because of the lack of trust and respect. You are worth more than that. Perhaps a short period of trial, waiting to see if things improve, might be useful – but my experience is that once an idea-thief, always an idea-thief. So, for goodness sake, leave!

This post is dedicated to a friend of mine, an ex-colleague.

Add some integrity and stir…….

I ambled around the idea of being selfish in the last blog, mainly because I had been, and I was doing a bit of self-justification. But it set me off on a canter about integrity – I was selfish, and left a project, because I wanted to maintain my integrity. It had taken considerable reflection and planning, and was not a whim or a fancy, and I had done my best to reinvigorate the role in the first place when I realised it, or maybe I, was going off the boil,  and to put in place all I could put in place to reduce the risks of me leaving, but it was still a rigorous decision making process not without its pain. And I did my usual agonising thing about it before and after, although after was easier because the decision was made, and it was a good one. But I was leaving behind some great people and had had some real fun and achievement out of it.

So…….integrity. What is it? And why is it powerful enough to make me lose sleep?!

“Steadfast adherence to a strict moral or ethical code.  The state of being wholesome; unimpaired.  The quality or condition of being complete, pure.”  That was what the dictionary said.

“Reduced risk of compromising moral or ethical ideals, a need to move on before effectiveness is crucially impaired” is what my head said.

I will not claim to be pure, wholesome, or even complete, but I do claim to have some moral integrity and a bit of an ethical code motoring around in my aura.

My company has the tag line “Henry Ford said: quality means doing it right even when no-one is looking. We agree.” When we started the company we started out with ideals which are still as fresh as the day we started: we have a sincere and genuine commitment to people, to human rights, parity of services and equality of opportunity. We believe that everyone, regardless of all the usual suspects like race, (dis)ability, religion, gender, sexuality, forensic history and so on has a right to a Normal Existence and the support to create that. We have been around a long long long time most of which has been spent in and around different kinds of  health and social services and have seen it all – as it says on our website (www.mayallmanagement.co.uk) we have seen the Good the Bad and the Ugly. And our experiences drove us to want to influence and improve – to make sure that, wherever possible, we made things better for people, with people.

S0……… we have Integrity, dammit, and sometimes that means we have to take difficult decisions.

I have made the decision, a number of times, not to take a piece of work because I am not confident that the prospective client actually wants to improve rather than just meet compliance. We are not interested in simply or solely meeting compliance targets, although that matters very much indeed. It is my belief that in order to continue to reach people who need to be reached we have to reach compliance targets as a given before moving into the work that makes a difference. But that is only the first step, the loosening of the stabilisers on the pushbike before taking off and getting the yellow jersey. If an organisation or group – or even a single service – wants to make things better and actually make a real difference to the people using and working in their services, then  I am there, will go the extra mile or ten, will work with them as hard as it takes to make that difference. If I don’t see that commitment and understanding then I will walk away. And that sometimes costs us money!!!!! But some things are more important. We are good at what we do and can  make that genuine difference, but not if the organisation hiring us has different goals or is looking for a different set of results. I can cut your costs, but  won’t do it at the expense of quality. I can reduce your  staffing but I won’t do that if it leaves people at risk. But I can cut your costs and improve your quality if you don’t think throwing money at services improves them but rather it is about leadership and direction. I can reduce your staffing if you can think creatively about what you do and what the people using your services actually want rather than what you think you can or should provide.

So, I think what I am leading to is that my integrity caused me to take what could be seen as a perverse decision: I walked away from a project before completion because I knew that I could not, if I was to understand my own motivation, remain in place as effectively as I had been given the changed circumstances. I would, to put it simply, not have performed. Not have wanted to perform might be nearer the truth. I would not have done the best that I could for the client hiring me, or for the people using and working in their services. So integrity meant that I moved on. Integrity also meant that I did everything possible to mitigate that before moving on, as well.

I like my integrity – it walks with me and reminds me why I do what I do and that it isn’t all about me. It does sometimes give me a hard time and a sleepless night, but I forgive it because it has also meant that I have met an infinite number of great people and had opportunities to make a difference and have had a real ball along the way. And it continues! I am having another great time with some fab people even as we speak, and if my integrity had not pushed me away from my last project I would not be in my current project and loving every minute of it. Thank you, Integrity! You may join my bad knee in the list of Unexpected Things That Have Improved My Life………

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