I Was Told “Don’t Share This With Anyone.”

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Photo: Shutterstock/Le_Mon

If you’re in a position of authority and you tell one of your team members, “don’t share this with anyone,” thin ice magically appears below your feet as well as theirs.

You have just created a precarious predicament.  Both of you are implicated – you in sharing and them in knowing.

Asking a team member to withhold information from other team members borders on asking them to be covert.

There are times that call for short-term confidential measures.

Though there are many times when this type of request is unnecessarily made – which puts the team member in an awkward position – loyalty to their boss vs. transparency with their co-workers.

As leaders, sometimes we simply don’t want to be all alone holding the heavy bag of knowledge – and yet as a leader, that’s what there is to do.  Other times, we want a sounding board to validate our tough decisions – instead seek someone who is not your team member.  I’ve also seen this language used to strengthen bonds of trust.  There are much more productive ways to build trust, and know, depending on the situation, you may actually be deemed less trustworthy.

Be really thoughtful before you make this request.  Ask yourself: Does this person have to know thisinformation at this time?  And if so, do they really need to keep it hidden?  What positive outcome comes from having this person know this information now – can they truly contribute to resolving the source of the secret?

Also know that when you tell someone “don’t share this with anyone” you have just up-leveled the seriousness of that communication tenfold.  Make sure the content is truly “top secret” worthy before you burden your team member.

Lastly, I’d be remiss if I didn’t highlight with fireworks and ALL CAPS that overall transparency and direct communication should be your cultural go-to default.

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Kris Boesch is the CEO and Founder of Choose People, a company that transforms company cultures, increases employee happiness and boosts the bottom-line. She is a nationally renowned speaker and workplace culture expert.  Boesch is also the author of Culture Works: How to Create Happiness in the Workplace and developer of the Choose People 360° Culture Audit. Kris is also a proud mother, dancing diva and dog lover.

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Kris Boesch
Kris Boesch is the CEO and Founder of Choose People, a company that transforms company cultures, increases employee happiness and boosts the bottom-line. She is a nationally renowned speaker and workplace culture expert. Kris is also a proud mother, dancing diva and dog lover.Check out Kris's book "Culture Works: How to Create Happiness in the Workplace" at https://www.CultureWorksBook.com, for more fabulous leadership tips and tools.Learn more about Kris's company at https://www.ChoosePeople.com or book Kris to speak at your next event at https://www.KrisBoesch.com!