I’ve always worked in highly competitive industries and I’ve seen two schools of thought when it comes to talent.
In the first camp are the companies that say, “Our industry is so competitive that requiring employees to sign a non-disclosure document is an exercise is futility. We will spend all of our time and money with lawyers and in court.” No offense to my attorney friends, but that wasn’t how the company wanted to spend their resources. They focused their energy on being the best and felt that their actions – with employees and customers – would prevail.
The other side was also focused on being the best. But they had a different philosophy. Those companies said, “Our products and services are unique. We’ve worked hard to get to this place in our business. No one should take that away from us.” And they spent the resources to protect their business secrets by asking employees to sign a non-disclosure agreement (aka NDAs).
I ran across this infographic about non-disclosure agreements from Legal Templates and thought it was an easy to read overview of what NDAs are and the key components to look for in an NDA.
The reason I told my tale of two companies at the beginning of this article is because, if you’re an organization using non-disclosure agreements (or considering doing so), it’s important to understand why you’re doing them. And to have a conversation with your legal counsel about how you’re going to enforce them.
And today’s article isn’t just for organizations. If you’re an employee or a job seeker, you need to understand non-disclosure agreements as well. Because when you’re presented with one, 1) you need to read it and 2) you need to decide if you’re going to sign it.
Non-disclosure agreements are serious business. Both parties need to understand the terms of the agreement. The best time to be educated about whether or not you want to engage with one, is before you need to sign one.15