What They Don’t Want You to Know

We have all seen the infomercial lead-in for a miracle snake oil cure-all in which a white coated actor declares, “This is the secret formula that they don’t want you to know about!” Feeding the flames of paranoia and distrust of just about everything, the staged talk show format allows a contrived dialog that opens the way to believing that there is a magic elixir that only Dr. Whitecoat can deliver. Whether it is to prevent cancer, lose weight or cure erectile dysfunction, the message is always the same: The pharmaceutical industry doesn’t want you to know about this cheap and simple way to fix your ailments. Is there any wonder that this entire industry is maligned every time a politician wants to cash in on the “stupid” vote? Since we all have a bit of the stupid gene in us, it is interesting to speculate where this can lead if common sense and logic are not injected into our consciousness.

Human Resources doesn’t want you to know that they talk about you behind your back. The truth is that most people don’t want to know what goes on in those meetings where performance management, promotions, and succession planning are on the agenda. Everyone professes to be “above average” so of course there should be no comparison between them and everybody else. Hidden away is the knowledge that this outward façade is not real, so chinks in the defensive armor of self preservation is a little scary. A reality check of both sides of this scenario would be to try openness and honesty. People managers operating in an atmosphere of total disclosure collaborating with employees that want to do their best produces the best results. HR also doesn’t want you to know they are afraid of litigation in almost every new rule they make.

Recruiters don’t want you to know that they are checking your social media presence. If you are afraid of this conspiracy theory, be very afraid… it could be real… it could be you. With professional reputations on the line, nobody seems to be willing to unconditionally promote a candidate that could end up being an embarrassment to the company. The truth is that most of this fake online reality doesn’t really matter. Thought control is abominable and hiring people who only think a certain way is dangerously close to being discriminatory for the wrong reasons. Job seekers who carefully control their external message to polish their image may have the same faults and failures as those who are careless, so that emphasizes the point that this is at best a secondary criterion for selection for a job.

What does the mirror on your wall tell you about yourself and how much of that do you not want people to know? What barriers do you build around yourself at work so that others can’t see your weaknesses? Perhaps they don’t want you to know that they see you as you are, perhaps better than you can see for yourself. If there has ever been a case for a culture of openness and mutual assistance, it would be that nobody is really fooling anybody else. The games we play to hide things from others needs a new set of rules.

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