101 Ways to Make Yourself Indispensable at Work: Keep Confidences

Much of the information and many of the activities that occur in the office are confidential and should not be discussed with anyone other than those directly involved. It is your responsibility to keep strict confidences and guard business information. Do not intentionally pass along information or let it leak out unintentionally through unsecured files, unmanned computers, overheard conversations, and offhand remarks. Private information, no matter how inconsequential, should be kept private.

Here’s one way sharing private information could get you into big trouble:

Sam heard his boss yelling at Alex, another employee, behind his closed office door. From what Sam gathered, the employee had insulted an important customer and possibly lost a huge account. Sam told his friend who works at a rival company how a big account that will affect the company’s profitability and stability was lost.

A week later, Sam’s boss called him in the office and asked, “What is this I hear about our company going out of business because of losing an important customer?”

Sam stuttered, “I don’t know anything about the company going out of business.”

“It isn’t, but you were the only one within hearing range when I reprimanded Alex for losing us an important customer. Your gossip has now turned into a vicious rumor. We don’t need irresponsible, untrustworthy employees in this company.”

The message here is never discuss company business with outsiders, particularly with competitors. All client business and information should be treated with the strictest confidence.

Or consider this scenario:

Your friend Helen (a coworker) happened to see a confidential document on her boss’s desk that confirmed the transfer to a remote office of Guy (another coworker). At lunch Helen tells you and Stephanie (another coworker) about Guy’s transfer. “Guy is going to have a fit when he learns of this transfer,” Helen said. “Don’t say anything to him, though, because he doesn’t know yet.”

Later that week Guy goes to Helen’s boss and fumes about the transfer he learned about through the office grapevine.

Helen’s indiscretion will cost her the boss’s trust and cause undue strain and anxiety for Guy and the boss. In addition, Helen learned a valuable lesson about whom she can trust in the office and how comments find their way to the office grapevine.

The question is “Can you be trusted?”

101 Ways to Make Yourself Indispensable at Work. 101 Ways to Make Yourself Indispensable at Work, ISBN: 9781435454323 Prepared for jhale@cba.ua.edu, Joanne Hale © 2011 Safari Books Online, LLC. This download file is made available for personal use only and is subject to the Terms of Service. Any other use requires prior written consent from the copyright owner. Unauthorized use, reproduction and/or distribution are strictly prohibited and violate applicable laws. All rights reserved.

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