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Dear MT community,

I have noticed yesterday that someone has stolen a few pages of my paper notebook in which I take notes during meetings. I don't write anything confidential in my paper notebook but it seems someone thought he would find some valuable information and stole the pages by pulling them off. I could not believe this and I have re-checked three times if indeed these five pages have been pulled off by someone from my notebook and that is the case. I have no clue who could have done such a thing. I have a team of 18 people and my company is currently kicking off a restructuration phase.

I am going to inform my boss and do nothing except observing and ensuring that my paper notebook is always with me or in a closed cupboard.

What would you recommend to do in such a case?

Amy.

jrumple's picture

Amy,

When I read the title, my first reaction was this is a time NOT to give Feedback (http://www.manager-tools.com/2010/05/when-not-give-feedback-part-1).

I routinely work with sensitive information. Some is sensitive to the company and some is sensitive to our customers. In some cases losing or leaking this information can result in jail time. Given that, I may be overly cautious with protecting information. It may be that something else is going on in your situation.

Theft is a serious issue. If you did not directly observe someone in the act of theft, you want to make sure that you've considered other explanations. Talking with your boss now is important. Explain what you know without what you've concluded. You know the pages are missing. You don't know if someone is using them for malice. You have a level of doubt about them being stolen because you re-checked the notebook three times. Try to remember what information was on the pages that are missing from the notebook.

One of the best things you can do is early self reporting. Get help from your boss in figuring out your next steps. If you don't feel that your boss is giving it the attention you feel it needs, you can elevate it to HR and talk with them. Despite examples of bad HR, providing guidance in these situations is exactly the sort of thing they are paid by the company to do. If you have a department that works with information security, they will also be able to provide guidance.

This will get uncomfortable as others start looking into it. You're going to feel like you're walking on eggshells for a while. Get help from your company representatives, like your boss or HR.

Jack
Colorado Springs

who_knows's picture

Hello Jack,

First of all thank you for your advice I like.

I would like to share an update with you on the theft case.

I have informed my boss asap. Unfortunately I could not inform him face to face as he was on business travel so I had to do it via email. 1 week later he told me he founds it really sad and wrong that such thing can happen. My boss informed also the head of HR who said that this kind of thing can happen, you cannot prevent them. This was really frustating for me because I think as you mentioned this shall be dealt very carefully especially depending on the business you run. I managed to remember what was written on the pages and it was all about a new organization we were about to put in place but there was no confidential information. I have a few doubt now who could have done that and this person now is not in my team anymore due to this new organization.

I now have learned to be more cautious with information handling and there is nothing on my desk at all anymore.

Someone outside my company suggested that I shall write wrong information on my notebook and then see who spread the wrong information. I thought that was a good idea but I have no time at all for that.

Amy.

bug_girl's picture

Don't let one person's bad behavior suck up too much of your time.  
That person has rattled you--but don't let them control you indirectly via your behavior.

In particular, don't lay a trap for someone over what is, I'm afraid, rather small stakes (non-confidential notes).  It will almost certainly end up making you look bad as a saboteur, even if the other person is in the wrong.

Control what you can--it looks like you're already doing that--but don't let this take up too much time.

It's hard to let go of something that is a violation of your private office space and personal notes, but catching someone for breaking a rule may not be possible (Are you perhaps a high C? ;p ). It also isn't what you want to focus on in time with your boss. 

IF there is an additional problem, then put more thought into security and follow up with boss/HR.

Until then, take the high road and walk away.

 

 

 

Mark's picture

Theft IS serious.  Serious enough that if you know who did it, in most situations, the right choice would be to fire the offender.

But I'm not certain this is theft, and neither should you be unless you've found someone with it.  MANY things could have happened, and theft is the LAST assumption one ought to make.  Without that assumption, this situation isn't worth thinking about.

Bug girl is right about the end result even if we differ slightly how you get there.

Let it go.

Merry Christmas all,

Mark