Discretion has its advantages at work. You don’t want to tattle on your co-workers’ minor infractions or spread outlandish rumors about them.
But in some instances, speaking up makes sense. By unclogging communication channels and updating colleagues on important developments, you promote trust and position yourself as a reliable source of information.
Here are two situations when it pays to share what you know:
You’re in the running for another job. You need not tell your manager that you’re job hunting. But depending on your employer’s policy, you may have an obligation to tell your manager if you’re under serious consideration for an internal transfer. Even if your organization lacks such a policy, it’s wise to keep your boss in the loop.
If you’re seeking work outside of your organization and you pass the initial screening interview, you may want to let your manager know. Emphasize that while it’s too early to tell whether you will get the job, the new opportunity advances your career goals. Not only will most bosses appreciate your candor, but they may also work with you to reconfigure your existing job so that they don’t lose you.
You’re aware of illegal activity. Some ethicists argue that if you see a co-worker engage in behavior that violates your employer’s rules, you should confront the individual and discuss the situation. In many cases, that’s sound advice.
But your willingness to express your concern to the perpetrator should not preclude you from reporting blatantly illegal acts to the appropriate executive in your organization (such as your boss or a human-resources representative).