One thing that affects people’s careers is their ability to keep a secret. It may sound silly, but in a classified setting, which all corporations are, the ability to know with whom you can share information is crucial to your career success. I have found this to be true independent of company size, the public/private nature of the company, and vital in defense related jobs.
Sometimes people are in a hurry and forget to mention the sensitive nature of the information they are sharing. Every time you hear new information that you suspect might be confidential, here are some basic questions to ask:
- Who else currently knows this information?
- With whom can we share this information now?
- When, if ever, will this information become public?
Finally, if in doubt, keep your mouth shut. You can still use careful questioning to see who knows what. For example, if you know a certain plant is shutting down next quarter, you can see who else knows by asking for next year’s production plan from that plant.
I bring this up because of my own experience. My foolishness and failure to understand these truths likely impacted my early engineering management career. I learned these lessons the hard way.