Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Trust Comes in Many Forms...and at Many Levels

During 2008/2009 period when my company was considering the MERGER and other options, I found myself privy to a great deal of confidential business information.  At times it was interesting, intriguing, and surprising.  At times it was TMI level.  Always, it was confidential. 

Sometimes having this information meant having to lie to my team or my supervisor.  Well, at least omitting certain facts.

This was serious business.  There were signed legal documents holding us to the confidentiality requirements.  We were talking with international firms.  We were talking with publicly held firms.  We were talking about radical business changes. 

Today, representatives of the MERGER company were in-house talking about communications...primarily how to increase and improve them.  Part of the discussion was about how to flow the information from the decision-making teams to the communications teams.  There was a lot of "I could tell you but then I'd have to kill you" statements made.  If you are a communications person you know - you have to be IN the know, to plan a communication.  You can't be tasked with prepping for communications or advance drafts or even a master communication schedule if you don't even know the information! 

The kicker to me is the feeling that MERGER company is more rank oriented than we are.  There is definitely a perception that you must be of a certain rank before you can be trusted to be in the loop.  As I recall, while we were having MERGER discusssions, the leaks came from top level people while administrative support staff showed total respect (fear?) of the signed legal documents and were totally trustworthy.  This was evidenced by the fact that our clients heard the whispers before our staff did.  The clients are managed by top-level executives. 

It will be our uphill battle to convince MERGER company that trust comes in many forms, and at many levels.  Trust is NOT defined by rank.

1 comment:

michiganme said...

You're so right! For many years, I worked in the banking industry as an executive assistant in the CEO's office. We were involved in dozens of buyouts/mergers of smaller community banks and confidentiality was key. Special emphasis was always directed at the coaching the 'staff' not to divulge anything. But my experience was that the worker bees took it all so seriously, while the executive officers were the talkers; many of them treated it like a game. I guess you'd have to when you are responsible for hundreds and hundreds of jobs being lost to backroom consolidation.