The confidentiality trap – Article – Ankita Shreeram

There are times when no one tells you what’s going on; so how can you deal with being kept in the dark about office issues?
confidentiality trap
confidentiality trap
You arrive at your workplace at a particular time daily, perform your duties and leave at a designated time. It seems like a simple routine; yet a job can last for years and occupy a major chunk of your time and thoughts. In such a scenario, if you feel like you’re not a part of the big picture and find that your boss is evasive about serious questions; it can lead you to feel truly lost in your own organisation.Employees may not own any shares in an organisation, but they are still entitled to complete information about everything that relates to them. If they are working on a product that is headed for downfall, they have every right to know about the possible disaster.Yet, a lot of managers routinely withhold information due to a misguided sense of confidentiality.

BE MORE TRANSPARENT

Mukund Menon, director -HR & communications,International Paper, India
lists ways in which employees and organisations can help foster a culture of openness and transparency:
Have an open dialogue with the boss or peers and subordinates about their expectations.
 Set up a monthly 1:1 to discuss issues and share updates and information that builds trust and ensures transparency.
 Follow a policy of transparency In spirit and intent; most of the times others will reciprocate in the same manner.
Use several communication platforms like, emails, posters town halls social media, Internal TV and shows, newsletters blogs, etc.

“Largely, there are two reasons for this. Some managers are unable to give bad news to their team. So they avoid communicating. And the other reason is that sometimes managers think that their team is not mature enough to handle the communication well and so the easier thing to do is keep it a secret.

The problem with such secrecy in both the cases is that eventually the manager has to deal with the consequences, and procrastination makes it worse,“ shares Hamsaz Vasunia, head HR, DCB Bank.

Inadequate dissemination of pertinent information and developments provides excellent fodder for toxic gossip mills.

Elaborating on some of the other negative consequences of excessive secrecy, Mukund Menon, director HR & communications, International Paper, India says,“It creates mistrust among teams, manager, and also among the peers. Lack of transparency will disrupt a seamless communication channel; resulting in lack of clarity on what to work on, which does not enable a coordinated effort. Most of the organisations fail due to lack of communication and transparency.

Normally it will push good talent, to leave if they are blindsided and unsure if their purpose is aligned with the company’s direction.“

The term ‘open door policy’ has become a major buzzword among corporate circles, but the mere notion of open cabins doesn’t always translate to open communication.“Most companies brag about having an open door policy. But in practice, how the leadership responds to blunt questions by employees, how it reacts to feedback and how it encourages whacky ideas actually set the tone for an open door policy.Apart from the culture, organisations must ensure that they are using several communication channels to talk about the big picture, strategy, challenges and issues to the last mile person,“ suggests Vasunia.

However, curiosity about matters that bear no relevance to your work is not encouraged in any workplace.“Information that is strategic, client confidential, employee personal or competitive in nature is only shared on `need to know’ basis with authorised personnel. As custodians of company’s confidential data, managers have a responsibility to keep information secure. This may, at times, be misconstrued as misplaced secrecy, if managers are not upfront about data sharing policies,“ explains Parage Pande, Accenture’s HR lead for India and global lead for learning and talent development operations.

Ask for information if it is not given to you.“Firstly, highlight the concern to their immediate supervisor or the team leader, and make an effort to seek information.Second, reach out to the HR team to seek guidance if the information pertains to organisation’s functioning or employee policy, which the employee has a right to know. Lastly, keep abreast with internal communication via emails websites and seek clarifications from contact persons mentioned therein,“ advises Pande.

Organisations should inculcate the need to be transparent right from the induction process and also reinforce the point through periodic training sessions.

Source: The Times of India (Delhi)
The confidentiality trap – Auther – Ankita Shreeram

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