withholding informationDo you find yourself, or your co-workers, thinking/saying:

  • I could get my job done if they would tell me what I need to know!
  • They only tell us about half of what they know because they don’t trust us!
  • What are they hiding?
  • We’re not babies.  Why don’t managers tell it like it is?


lack of information

Here are some thoughts to consider:

  • Think about a time when you made a personal decision (we have all done this) and didn’t tell everyone right away.  How about the last relationship that didn’t work out?  How about a problem with your child’s teachers or school?  A problem with your banker?  Your landlord?  How about the last time you decided to pursue a career change?  Why didn’t you tell the people involved the minute you started thinking about it?  Particularly those that were going to be seriously affected?  Probably your answers have to do with your needing time to think things through, to gather information, and to make good solid action plans.
  • Yes, management does sometimes withhold information.   Often, just like with our personal decisions, it’s because they haven’t collected enough data from the marketplace to make a firm decision. With technology enabling information to literally move around the world in seconds, organizations are more conscientious today about how and what information is released.  Admittedly, that sometimes does seem like deliberate withholding of information.
  • More often than not, senior management has a big picture and a sense of direction, but perhaps they haven’t yet worked out all the bugs and details. Your manager may be as much in the dark as you.  So, don’t take the silence personally.
  • It isn’t that you aren’t trusted or that someone wants to withhold information from you.  On occasion, management has to safeguard new plans so they don’t leak out and harm the organization.  They may want to share the information with you, but for the benefit of everyone involved, they simply can’t.
  • In an economy in which knowledge is now a commodity, it only makes sense that some information has to be held back for carefully timed release.  It would be all too easy for a competitor to beat your organization to the marketplace if proprietary information got out.
  • This does not absolve you of finding out all you can by appropriately asking your management to level with you – as much as they can. Let management know that you are sensitive to the needs of protecting vital trade secrets and potentially explosive information.  But within these parameters, ask them to let you know as soon as they can.

secret information

Don’t simply adopt the attitude of “they’ll tell me when they are ready.”  There’s no harm in asking … but don’t feel rebuffed if you don’t get an immediate answer.