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I think I just landed myself in a soup.

I work for a company COM which has multiple engagements with a client. We have two projects running PRJ1 and PRJ2. I am part of PRJ2.

My managers at PRJ2 (client guy) asked us to maintain professional integrity and not sharing any unnecessary information with my managers at COM.

My manager at COM asked us to provide a status on what is happening in the project PRJ2. I did exactly that, but the COM manager (along with other COM managers) took the status and made some very drastic conclusions: that because of PRJ2, PRJ1 will be halted.

I never intended to even say that but they concluded. I told them I never said that, but they were like relax, don't worry, its nothing! Thank you for the information! Etc. etc. blah blah!

I really feel betrayed and mistrusted. I was only giving a status update and they made some conclusions. I am not sure what will they do of the conclusion, but I feel stupid in front of my team to have broken the promise I gave to my client. I don't think my COM manager will really use this information and go to the client and fight, but I am just not feeling OK..

Is there anything I can do to make myself feel less yukky?

Also, my entire team for PRJ2 (my own team, not client) was there on the call. I am sure they are worried as I am. Should I speak to them?

My manager at COM has asked for a recurring meeting for the status updates. I feel they are going to use what I give as status updates and politicize it. What should I do here?

Thank you! (writing this while nervous and uneasy)....

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    There is nothing professional about your client asking to please lie by omission to your boss. This is a mess even before you started to describe the actual mess. – nvoigt Aug 6 at 12:02
  • Not sure whether to respond in a comment or an answer. If you can clarify who's in charge here, then you should (comment). If you can't, then "Get some clarification as to who's in charge" belongs in an answer. – Acccumulation Aug 9 at 6:46
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    As long as you told the truth, there is no reason for you to feel "yukky". Managers make decisions, sometimes those decisions are yukky, but they need to be based on truthful information... and if all you did was provide that truthful information, you did nothing wrong. – BittermanAndy Aug 9 at 10:31
  • @nvoigt: The OP clearly states that he was requested to not share any unnecessary information. That is different from lying and is not uncommon, especially when projects involve sensitive information or are of a highly critical nature to the organization. As the OP does not state what information was to be kept from COM, it is not possible to judge whether this information should have been provided or not. Also, the OP starts with stating he got himself in a soup, with that confirming he could have done things differently. – Jonathan van de Veen Aug 10 at 7:40
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    No, it's not different. "I cannot tell you, I'm under an NDA" is not lying and perfectly fine. Not telling despite being asked is lying. Not telling despite knowing the other party expects this information is lying by omission. Being explicitly asked to leave out information when talking to someone is being asked to lie. – nvoigt Aug 10 at 7:55
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That is a tough spot. First of all, wait and think. Did you actually break your promise to your client? Did you share more information than was needed? A status update seems nothing but fair, but the full extent of the information you provided might suggest otherwise.

As for talking about it with your team, I would pick someone from the team you trust and talk one on one with that person about this. You might get a different perspective this way. Or you might get some other idea about how to deal with this.

Now for the recurring meeting, you can do a couple of things:

  • First and foremost: prepare for the meeting. Make sure what information you want to share and think of questions you might get in advance so you can think about your answers.
  • You can consider informing your client about the recurring status update meetings and inform them about what you will be required to share. They might be helpful in coming up with an approach to share what is needed, without oversharing, and in wording things in a way that protects the client's interest.

On a final note, I have no insight into how your company works and what organizational structure is in place. You might consider sharing your concerns with someone further up the chain of command or with a trust-person (if your company has someone like that).

Again, this is a tough situation and I wish you wisdom.

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  • Thank you for your answer! It is nice of you to provide some good insights. The information I shared was just 'what is happening in the project'. The manager concluded 'since this is happening, PRJ1 will be scraped!'. – Devesh S Aug 6 at 7:36
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You are employed by COM. The client at PRJ2 asked you to withhold information from your employer. That is not a reasonable request, and there should not be any expectation that you would abide by it (though, ideally you would have openly said so).

Your manager at COM asked you for information. You provided it. This is a natural and normal part of your duties as an employee. What your managers do with that information is up to them - as long as you were truthful, you did your part. Remember that they are unlikely to be acting on your information alone. If you told them that PRJ2 is going great, but elsewhere they have heard that PRJ1 is going badly, that might explain why they made the decision to shut down PRJ1. This is not your "fault" or really anything to do with what you told them, it's more likely to do with the relative successes of PRJ1 and PRJ2 and the available resources, etc. If you didn't provide the information, someone else would have, or they would have found it out for themselves.

Your concern about future status updates being "politicised" is misplaced. Management need to know what is happening in COM and on PRJ1 and PRJ2. (I question whether status updates are a better way to get that information than hands-on knowledge, but that's another matter). They will use this information to make decisions about how to take the company forward. That's not politics, it's business. Sometimes business needs mean that projects must be halted. Sometimes it means that client relationships change. It's all just business.

("Politics" can interfere in business. If COM were shutting down PRJ1 because they dislike someone on that team, but keeping PRJ2 going because they like you and your team, that might be more concerning. But providing a status update is different. Status updates are a report on the business. Decisions will be made based on those updates - but it's not politics).

  • Keep providing status updates to COM, your employer, as requested.
  • Keep those status updates truthful and accurate to the best of your knowledge.
  • Understand that status updates are not requested just "for fun" or out of idle curiosity. The information you provide will feed back into how COM is run.
  • Do not feel "yucky" about PRJ1 being halted. You did not cause that. It was COM's decision.
  • If the client at PRJ2 ever again asks you to withhold information from your employer COM, politely inform them that you are unable to comply with that request.
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Every status meeting could be a potential source to base politics on. It would be weird to give status updates to each other and then afterwards noone ever takes any actions. It is a moment where (potential) challanges are discussed and oppurtunities are discovered. It is essential for a company to operate.

On a broader perspective: Everything is politics.The type of lunch you eat daily could be (subconciously) used to judge your performance.

Taking the above in mind it is always wise to think about what you want to share and in what wording up front these meetings.

So yes, keep speaking to them but be prepared!

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