A reader writes:
About 8 months ago, we hired a new manager who moved very close to me and my family. I am his direct supervisor.
Shortly after they moved here, we invited them over for dinner and we have since become good friends ... dear friends, in fact. Our kids play together, we've been camping together. You know the kind of friends I'm talking about, the kind you wanna keep your whole life long.
Our company is having to initiate a round of layoffs and his position is being eliminated. The announcements won't come out for another two weeks and of course, until then I'm supposed to keep the details (i.e., names of those affected) confidential.
My friend is making plans to travel this summer and he is aware that there are rumors of cut-backs in the air. He's told me, "the sooner I know, the better" as he is in the process of enrolling his kids in school for the fall, his wife is taking college classes, etc.
Do I give him a heads-up and tell him? Or do I wait until D-Day to let the cat out of the bag?
If I tell him, there is a chance that others will find out and my supervisors will eventually discover I broke confidentiality. If I wait until D-day, the late notice will cause considerable stress and hardship - financial and otherwise - for him and his family.
I'm leaning toward not telling him ... but I'm perplexed. Any and all advice appreciated.
Ugh. This is a terrible situation.
Your position gives you access to information that you cannot share with others. If your manager finds out you've broken that confidentiality, it would rightly call into question your ability to keep information confidential in the future, your ability to have personal relationships with people you manage, etc.
However, I think it's all kinds of BS that the company knows it will be laying him off and isn't telling him yet. Yes, I know this is how it's done, but I still think it's unfair and inhumane.
I think there's a middle ground here. I would tell your friend something like, "You know I can't really talk about this, but what I can do is urge you in the strongest terms to wait until the end of the month before making those kinds of decisions." Your friend should get the message, at least enough to proceed with caution and to not feel later like you stood idly by while he made financial commitments that you secretly knew he'd regret.
Plus, it's sensible advice for anyone at a company where there are rumors of layoffs, so you have plausible deniability if ever needed.
What do others think?