Love to share? Here are three rules to keep you out of trouble

By Sarah Stowe | 29 Oct 2015 View comments

The franchise sector prides itself on the openness of its franchisors, who readily share their experiences with each other – particularly at conferences. But how far should you go with your helping hand? Can it backfire? 

We are part of a pretty cool sector. Generally, the franchise community is a generous, giving group who readily share experiences and information.

Conferences are treasure troves of information. As a group of peers we share best practice, tell horror stories, dissect significant events, analyse lessons learned and ask each other probing questions.

We love feeling like we’ve peaked behind the curtain and gained a unique insight into the inner workings of another business.

We love to compare and contrast. Most of us are hungry for information that can provoke an insight into our own businesses or experiences.

But… when is it too much information? When can that free flow of information back fire?

It’s easy to get swept up in the open forum networking events create and forget most of us are bound by confidentiality agreements.

How much information should you share? It depends whose information you are sharing, how reliable it is and why you are sharing it.

Here are three sure-fire rules to keep you out of trouble.

1. If the information is not yours to share – stop

Where you sit in the franchise food chain often dictates the level of information you can comfortably share.

CEOs, founders and owners, as keepers of the company, get carte blanche to share whatever they like.  As you travel down the hierarchy this right diminishes.

A good rule of thumb is to ask your self: is this my information to share?

Some companies encourage total disclosure, while some hold information tightly. So check before you find yourself in an awkward position of having to explain why you volunteered the average store sales to a room full of competitors.

Ask your boss, what is our stance on sharing info with competitors? How much and what can I share?

2. If it’s gossipy, unfounded or has no facts to back it up – stop

There is a unique deliciousness that comes with a particularly juicy piece of gossip. I am a reformed gossiper, but I still get a little shiver when I hear something really good.

Those nuggets you just know will make people go ‘no waaaaaay!’ Knowing something that no one else knows is appealing. A little power rush and it’s easy to justify sharing with others. They would want to know, they need to know!

Takeovers and buy outs have been hot this year, and we can certainly learn from what’s happened. How have they managed the transitions? How has the communication to franchisees gone? What have they done well? Where could they have done better? That discussion is really useful.

The gossipy side of who said what or did what… not so useful.   

A few franchise systems have found themselves in hot water recently. It can be easy to forget that behind the headlines there are real people having to navigate those situations. So again, a discussion of what happened and why and how it can be avoided is useful for us all. But rumour and innuendo serve no purpose.

Keep the conversations constructive.

3. If your intentions in sharing it are not honourable – stop

Why are you sharing that information? Is it to contribute to the greater good or to help someone avoid a mistake you made? Or is it to throw a bad light on a competitor or make yourself feel better?

Be honest with yourself.

Buddha sums it up; ‘If you propose to speak, always ask yourself, is it true, is it necessary, is it helpful, is it kind’.