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Dear Workforce How to Prepare Employees to Safeguard Company Secrets

We provide outsourced technical resources and often work on projects with other companies—which sometimes are competitors. My employees are at times uncomfortable with the situation: what to say, what not to say, and how to get the work done to the satisfaction of the client without jeopardizing our niche or competitive edge. How can I prepare them for these situations?
October 14, 2004
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Related Topics: Policies and Procedures, Dear Workforce
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Dear Button Their Lips:

Such scenarios are common in IT contracting. Project teams often consist of people from several different companies. An analyst from Company A may need to communicate user requirements to a programmer from Company B on a project that is being led by a project manager from Company C. Remember why the client hired you: to help complete a specific project. That should be the guiding star for your employees.
Set expectations of new employees upon hiring them. You may want to cover this issue during orientation. Make sure employees know that it is possible, even likely, that they will feel pressure to discuss confidential information. Communicate your company's policy on the matter. You might even ask them to sign a nondisclosure agreement.
Managing this situation after it arises is much more difficult. Given human nature, it may be unrealistic to expect your people not to talk with and/or share information about your company with others on a project. Plus, the longer the project, the greater the chances that they'll build close working relationships with these people.
The most important thing is to focus on building a sense of community and inclusion that would discourage them from disclosing information that could harm your company. Think about what you offer that compels employees to stay at your company. What advantages/incentives do you offer that encourage employees to keep company secrets? Employees who are happy, challenged and respected are much less likely to engage in behavior that raises suspicion.
SOURCE: Patrick Graves,Bristol Consulting Group, University City, Missouri, November 20, 2003.
LEARN MORE:Sample nondisclosure agreement.
The information contained in this article is intended to provide useful information on the topic covered, but should not be construed as legal advice or a legal opinion. Also remember that state laws may differ from the federal law.
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 The information contained in this article is intended to provide useful information on the topic covered, but should not be construed as legal advice or a legal opinion. Also remember that state laws may differ from the federal law.

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