What’s scarier than the IRS? The state taxing authority is. In Texas, that’s the Office of the Comptroller. It goes by other names in other states. To see what it’s called in your state, go to file://localhost/to http/::www.statelocalgov.net:50states-tax-authorities.cfm. You’re going to need this information soon if you don’t need it right now.
With the 1st quarter coming to a close, there are several pitfalls you'll want to avoid that are especially important at this point in the year. Completing the prioritized tasks gives the owner or manager a perfect opportunity to refine their vision for the year. Use the resulting information to make the last three quarters more productive and more profitable. This will keep you out of the weeds and create the 40,000 foot owner/investor perspective you need to make a better future.
Cyber security is certainly critical. It’ s something to be concerned about and to use every effort to stop or prevent.
But there are security breaches that aren’t coming from terrorists on the outside. They’re coming from the inside. The people who commit them would be astonished to know that they were guilty of harming their company. The results can be disruptive enough to kill sales, drive away staff, or potentially kill the company. It’s not really espionage but it’s definitely company sabotage.
They can also be harder to stop.
The cause: talking too much about the wrong things to the wrong people.
The culprit: the boss.
Do you recognize any of these security breaches?
• No Secrets
The food manufacturer who responded to a simple question by someone she just met who revealed her secret way to solve a major production problem. She was proud of what the company had done. The idea of trade secrets was foreign to her.
• Give Away
The hardware manufacturer that kept giving away product and prototypes to his friends to use so no one knew where the inventory was or what was being copied.
• Double Give Away
The same manufacturer also was notorious for giving “friend of X” pricing. He didn’t even do it consistently. That would at least have meant it was predictable and the CFO could have dealt with it. It drove the Sales Manager crazy because she’d quote one price and “the friend” would tell her that the boss said it would be less. She finally quit from frustration just before a big national trade show.
• Emotional Dumping
The service company with legitimate complaints about suppliers. In public meetings, the boss kept sharing them with his customers. He drove people away.
• Gloom and Doom
The world and what happens in it isn’t always right. Being politically active and engaged is important. But it can be too much. The owner who is too vocal all the time raises other questions. Stakeholders and customers feel that they’re more concerned about politics than producing a good product and serving their needs.
These security breaches are probably more familiar, especially to almost any Human Resource manager:
• Bad Employee Speak
Talking, texting, or emailing people in or out of the company about fired or suspended employees in ways that are negative opinions but not facts. The courts have judged this to be defamation and charged the company and the perpetrator large fines (Gambardella v. Apple Health Care Inc.) http://www.employeerightspost.com/2009/05/articles/defamation/a-simple-case-of-defamation/. Also read: http://www.weil.com/news/pubdetail.aspx?pub=8737
• Wrong Employee Speak
Talking, texting, or emailing people in and out of the company about employees in a suggestive way or in a way that would be offensive. Employees who’ve quit over this frequently win healthy harassment judgments (Harris v. Forklift Systems). http://www.aauw.org/act/laf/library/workplaceharassmentcases.cfm
I’m sure there are more that should be added to this list.
What can you do?
1. Knowing what to watch out for is a simple way to start. Add to this list or refine it to suit what you see happening or what has happened.
2. Put a process in place to prevent it from happening.
If you’re the boss, watch what you say. If you can’t control it, get an independent ear and eye to listen to you before you give that speech or read what you send out before it goes out. You may have to go to the effort to get someone else to compose it using your concepts. It’s worth it to protect your company.
If you’re the boss of such a person, try counseling and training them. Put checks in place. Last resort: replace them or move them to some position where they can do less harm.
If you work for such a boss, there may be little you can do but look for another job because this business isn’t going anywhere.
As Walt Kelly’s cartoon character Pogo said to Porky, “We have met the enemy and he is us.”
Photo courtesy of Ben Goodger, goodgerster on Flickr
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