Protecting your business assets must be a high priority for all owners on a good thing with their products and services. However, when your priority shifts to become focused on guarding against your own employees, you have a problem. This is like a red flag of dysfunctional culture waving an urgent alarm that things are not ok.
This is a question I saw posted on social media recently. A real question from a real business owner. The assumptions implied in the phrasing of this question are a concern to me. If you have a culture based on opposition, suspicion and defensiveness you have a foundation for a very unhealthy company. If you’re asking these questions you won’t get far with ensuring confidence and investment from your team.
This business owner thought they had a problem with their staff. But what they really have is a problem in their culture. Instead of asking the best way of protecting your business assets from your own employees, why not ask:
“How can you create confidence and security for your team whilst harnessing your operational IP?”
THIS is a question worth answering! My quick thoughts on the matter:
Protecting Your Business Assets Starts With Establishing Ownership
Of course, the protection of your most valuable assets is essential to business stability. Make sure your team members understand from the outset that all operational knowledge, resources, tools, inventions and developments are ultimately owned by the business. Not by you personally, or by them personally. Documented this in your team employment contracts, signed and dated by you and your staff member. A clause like this does more than protect your company’s operational IP legally. It sends a message to every member of your staff that it’s all for one and one for all at “Team You!”
System Access Should Only Ever Be An Inside Job
Secure all your business logins in an online service which stores sensitive information securely. We use 1Pasword in our team, but LastPass is another popular solution for you as well. Using these encrypted storage tools offers more than the protection of your logins. It guards your staff against the fallout of losing logins or having them fall into the wrong hands. It creates efficiency with faster access procedures, and it creates security for the data being protected. Password software also makes offboarding really efficient in the sad eventuation that a team member needs to leave. You can simply remove their access from the company password service and they’re free to move on.
Build Safe, Accessible Systems On Solid Tech Foundations
I worked with a company in 2019 who still used a local server to store their company business. This old technology is not as secure or efficient as migrating to cloud-based data storage. All your data can be protected by encryption as well as unique logins and access rights for each user. All your data usage can be tracked by many services. This means you see who has been accessing data, when they did it, and exactly what they did. And all data is then made available from anywhere in the world. Storing your company data in the cloud increases efficiency and accountability. Most of all, it celebrates a culture of transparency which keeps people on the same team, without compromising on security for your company.
Protecting Your Business Assets Is A Team Effort
Involving all team members in the development of operational processes is a perfect recipe for engagement. When people are involved in creating the type of workspace they want to work in, their personal investment into the company soars. Make sure they understand just how much the company values their input, and use the task of process documentation as an opportunity to celebrate and reward their knowledge. Then secure this documentation behind encrypted logins, stored centrally in the cloud for fast, safe, shared access.
Above all else, the development of a safe, invested workforce starts with positive leadership coming “from the top”. If leaders at the executive level use language which undermines the positive, invested culture of teamwork and collaboration at work, it will follow that the team will operate in kind. It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy you never want to see play out in your company.
Yes, security is important. Especially as time marches on bringing with it new threats and concerns at every turn. But implementing effective security measures does not mean developing a culture of mistrust and fear. Your employees need those security measures just as much as your company does. Just remember the power of your language and the influence that you have as the leader of your company. It’s always the little things that lead to the creation of a healthy, positive company culture.
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