Keeping the boss’s business under wraps

Admins have responsibilities to both their immediate bosses and the organizations they work for. Some­­times it can be hard to serve both equally. What should you do when situations force you to choose?

That’s what one reader asked recently on the Admin Pro Forum:

“I’ve noticed that one of the managers seems to be trying to use me as a window into my boss’s habits and decisions. He’s always politely prying for a little more information than I’m comfortable giving, but at he’s even higher up the ladder than my boss is, so I don’t want to offend him. What should I do about this?” — Caitlyn, events assistant

We contacted a few experts about how to handle this sticky situation.

“Unfortunately, admins are often faced with snoopers,” says Liz D’Aloia, founder of HR Virtuoso. “In these cases, they need to put their gatekeeper hats on. The best thing an admin can do in this situation is to ask a series of questions.”

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She recommends these queries:

  • Why do you need the information?
  • Why do you think this information is useful?
  • How will this information help you perform your job better?
  • Would my boss approve of my sharing this information?

Divulging information can wreck your reputation—and it’s important others at the organization understand that so they don’t put you in a bad position. Bettina Seidman, president of SEIDBET Associates, recommends a statement, such as, “I have a reputation for integrity and confidentiality which is important to me.”

“Becoming the office ‘snitch’ can create conflict and rub co-workers the wrong way, so try to avoid leaking information you may know about a colleague,” says Jason Carney,

HR director of  Worksmart Systems. “Stay­­­ing tight-lipped will keep you out of unwanted situations and will prevent potential office damage. It also demonstrates professionalism your colleagues and higher-ups will remember!”