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#269: Confidentiality

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Thursday, March 25, 2010
Updated: Thursday, March 25, 2010
I just learned that one of my client's key employees is planning on leaving to go work for a key competitor in a few months. I like and respect this person and feel that he is a real asset to my client's firm. What do I do?

The IMC Code of Ethics Interpretive provides us with the following guidance (from Section 8.0 - Recruiting Client's Staff):

"Where key performers indicate that they are unhappy and are considering leaving your client, help your client to recognize and better utilize their potential. For instance, if you can see that an employee could be of greater value in another assignment, suggest reassignment."

Who do you work for? Where is your obligation? Did you receive this information second-hand? Was there any confidentiality involved in the receipt of the information?

Here are two strong guidelines you should always apply to situations like this:
  1. Remember that your primary obligation is to your client's organization.
  2. Do not receive information in confidence unless you can first ascertain that it will not prevent you from serving the best interests of your client.
Tip: Therefore, if one of your client's employees approaches you and says "I would like to discuss something with you confidentially..." Stop them before going any further and simply say "I'm very sorry, but I cannot receive any information from you in confidence that would be potentially detrimental to my client (in this case, your firm is my client)."

© 2010 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  client staff  consultant role  ethics 

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