Donna's blog on coaching, leadership, and life

Confidentiality in the Workplace

Confidentiality in the Workplace, by Donna Rawady, originally published on July 19, 2016 in the Democrat & Chronicle, Rochester, NY

The circumstances relating to confidentiality at work run the gamut — from honoring a signed confidentiality agreement generated by you or your client’s organization, to overhearing a bit of gossip about a colleague and choosing to keep it to yourself.

Managers are admired and HR professionals are trusted for their discretion and caution when honoring an employee’s privacy relating to personal issues or performance challenges.
As a service provider, you may be privy to an organization’s finances or current struggles or their current leadership gaps. Yet, you understand, with or without a confidentiality agreement, the importance of keeping this information under wraps.

High levels of confidentiality are upheld by the best in the administrative assistant profession, as the concepts of secret-keeper, protectorate, and confidante have been part of the code of ethics since the profession was established. All of these approaches and behaviors build trust and healthy business relationships.

There may be a time where you believe a disclosure of confidential information from a colleague, for example, may be important or crucial to a larger organizational objective or initiative. Consider approaching your colleague openly to discuss your thoughts with the hopes of engaging and collaborating to share the information together for business-centered results. Your positive intent for the other person and the organization will serve as a worthy motive, which will increase the chances of a positive outcome.

Trust is at the center of any successful business relationship. Our integrity in maintaining our employees’, colleagues’, and/or clients’ privacy and esteem is crucial — whether or not we’re being observed.

The most significant impact we can have on workplace culture relating to confidentiality or influencing others to do the right thing, is to continue doing the right thing ourselves.

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