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FYI, If you use open calendar info, be sure stuff that should be private is marked as such.

Situation: I had a contractor who wasn't working out. He was a six month temp-to-hire. After three months, we had some issues with professionalism. Behaviors were observed, documented, and discussed. For a while things got better, but then slipped again. When I got back from vacation at the end of June I got a couple more reports from my directs and customers of incidents of the same. Last week I made a decision to let him go on Friday July 11. I told my replacement manager and my boss. I also started working with HR to get some replacements. We were very careful about what discussions were made and with whom. We were also very careful about the hardcopy resumes and other notes so the outgoing contractor wouldn't get the news before we I was going to deliver it.

The weakness is that several of us use open (Outlook) calendars. This helps in general communications, but the contractor was setting something up and noticed a few of us had interview invites from HR and figured it out a day early. He approached me and asked "Am I being let go tomorrow?" He was calm, but clearly upset. Upon his request he was let go a day early.

My boss requests that his directs have open calendars. While I can restrict who sees my calendar, it gets a little more tricky who sees what. Outlook has a little checkbox on the bottom right corner labeled "Private" which will hide the details from others. I recommended to HR that we start using this in replacement (or other sensitive) situations. We'll see what happens. This could have been a lot worse considering the contractor also had some elevated IT Admin access. Fortunately nothing bad happened.

Keep an eye on who can see what in your calendars!

garyslinger's picture

On a related note, even if your calendars are private, be careful if you're booking a "resource", such as a meeting room, and you've put the Agenda in to the invite, for instance - the meeting room calendar may [i]not[/i] be private.

Want to guess how some folks found out about impending redundancies at a previous company of mine?...

G.

kklogic's picture

Great tip, guys. This is the kind of thing you learn the hard way. Thanks for making it so I don't have to!

agreen's picture

Following on from Gary, I had checked private when interviewing for an internal position in our organisation. Another candidate scanned what he thought were likely competitors for similar hour blocks on the corporate calendar's.

So even though mine was a private appointment he correctly surmised I was being interviewed as well, and he discussed his thoughts with others. Suddenly my team know I have put in for another position! Hard to deny when you are being interviewed and word is out, whether or not your confirm it personally.

I still use the calendar, but if it something critical I put a dummy appointment in that is open for all to see. I always use something that is reasonable and expected as part of my role. For example a morning meeting in another office about tourism issues, when I am there for an interview after lunch. Still out of the office where I say I am, but can plausibly deny much more easily if asked.

sbaleno's picture

Great points, Chuck.

For reasons you have mentioned, I have found it helpful when necessary to send agendas and sometimes even the purpose as a separate email (versus having it in the appointment invitation). So, the main appointment might be titled "Name1/Name2", or "Discuss Project xxxx", etc. The attendees know exactly why they are there based on the email I described.

To quickly provide me with information regarding the group meeting, I sometimes create a private appointment for myself to occur at the same time as the group meeting. Within it I place the agenda, text, etc., so that I have it handy if needed just prior or during the meeting on either a PC/laptop, etc., or on my BlackBerry. This is only done when the agenda, topic, notes, need to be private.

SharePoint can also help with this as only those individuals with permission to access the linked-site can get to its contents.

Steve

tomw's picture

Heck, I know of people who browse all the managers' and conference room calendars just [i]looking[/i] for stuff like that.

lazerus's picture

I will throw water on this:

[b]Horstman's Law #6: There are No Secrets[/b]
[quote]If you think you can keep something quiet in your organization,
you’re kidding yourself. What everybody is talking about
is what’s not being said. Everybody knows already.
The one associate or friend that you felt you could tell
has probably told someone else whom they trusted…
and so on. If you try to keep secrets, others lose
respect for you because you show you don’t trust them.
action ›› Tell everybody everything. Forward every e-mail you
get to all of your team...automatically. Don’t go off the record.[/quote]

garyslinger's picture

[quote="agreen"]
I still use the calendar, but if it something critical I put a dummy appointment in that is open for all to see. I always use something that is reasonable and expected as part of my role. For example a morning meeting in another office about tourism issues, when I am there for an interview after lunch. Still out of the office where I say I am, but can plausibly deny much more easily if asked.[/quote]
A routine part of my time management approach is a calendar entry that just says "Blocked". It might be for 30 minutes, an hour, or even an entire day - and it could mean almost anything (for instance, it might be "recovery and catch-up" following a trip, or it might be a Dr's appointment). Folks are used to seeing it in my calendar, and it just means "not available for scheduled meetings". Won't work everywhere, won't work for everyone, but it's an approach.

G.

thaGUma's picture

I love gary's use of a generic 'blocked'. The Outlook Calander is vastly overused and abused.

HMac's picture

[quote="donnachie"]I love gary's use of a generic 'blocked'.[/quote]

I agree. Simple and elegant. Eliminates whatever concern you might have about prying eyes looking at your online calendar's content.

-Hugh

MsSunshine's picture

We're just going from Lotus Notes to Outlook this fall. I would have never even thought to worry about this. In Notes, they can only see my calendar is busy - not what I'm doing. The room reservation information only tells who not for what.

Thanks for keeping me out of trouble.... :)

...however, I would wonder how effectively a direct is using their time if they are spending time searching through people's calendars and room reservations.

[b]Question: [/b] What other privacy measures do you take? I don't even lock my office door even though it does have locks. I have private information like 03 notes & my direct's files sitting on my desk, in my drawers, etc. I make sure I put things away for my 03's or close them when someone comes it. But I don't lock them up. When I am privy to information about us buying another company, I do lock that up.

HMac's picture

Sunshine - just to clarify regarding Outlook and privacy:

You have control over how much visibility you grant others (the tab, you will find is labeled "Permissions").

There's a setting which only indicates that time is booked - no other content is provided (in my experience, this is the most used setting).

But you CAN permit others to see the actual content of your calendar. In my case, I use this setting with close colleagues and directs (and they, in turn, provide me with same permission to their calendars). If something has to be supersecret, I'd make the title vague. The most likely trip-up here is when it's a meeting - because it's possible to view the attendees (and I feared sometimes being asked: Why are you meeting with [i]HIM[/i]?"). It actually never happened, because I keep my boss apprised of any meetings I have with levels higher than him in the company.

Finally, there's a permission setting for EDITOR - where other can actually alter your calendar. That setting is reserved for admins who support my calendar.

-Hugh

garyslinger's picture

Be aware though that while the defaults are for calendars to only publish "free/busy" data, some environments by corporate or individual management mandate will have your calendars made available to general review, and that change can be made at the administrative level, and not over-ridden by your own individual permissions.

I am certain the above is so for Exchange/Outlook (as I work in that field), and believe it to also be the case for Domino/Notes.

G.

HMac's picture

Wow. VERY Big-Brotherish...

Again gary - I admire your simple and elegant "Blocked" solution.

Especially now that I know some places force a different default.

-Hugh

jclishe's picture

[quote="garyslinger"]Be aware though that while the defaults are for calendars to only publish "free/busy" data, some environments by corporate or individual management mandate will have your calendars made available to general review, and that change can be made at the administrative level, and not over-ridden by your own individual permissions. G.[/quote]

Garyslinger - have you personally seen this? I've been an Exchange consultant for 10 years and have never once had a customer request this.

stephenbooth_uk's picture

[quote="jclishe"]Garyslinger - have you personally seen this? I've been an Exchange consultant for 10 years and have never once had a customer request this.[/quote]

I saw it done with Exchange at my previous employer (1998-99). It's fairly common (using Lotus Notes) at my current employer. More common is that a specific manager will request the administrators to give them full access to their directs' mail and calendar. This allows them to read everything, create calendar entries and even send mail as that person.

On a separate note, people who use private appointments in their work calendars fro private things need to be wary of sync software. Over the years I've found that where you have a private appointment in Outlook and sync it to a device (or other calender) it is created fine on the device. When you later sync again a public appointment that is a copy of the private appointment is sometimes created.

I've experienced this with Cadenza and Microsoft Activesync interfacing to Lotus Domino 4.6 and Outlook, Palm ActiveSync, Nokia PC Sync, Yahoo! Autosync and with Orange Online Sync.

Stephen

garyslinger's picture

[quote="jclishe"]Garyslinger - have you personally seen this? I've been an Exchange consultant for 10 years and have never once had a customer request this.[/quote]
Yes - multi-national British-owned company (some departments, not all), and a smaller, US technology company (sales staff required to make their calendars available), are two immediate examples that come to mind.

I've also seen it in a couple of places where it wasn't a customer request, per se, it was a decision made by the admins "being helpful".

Exchange 4.0 Alumni here :)

G.