I was talking to a friend the other day, and he was exasperated. Why?
He just couldn’t understand why rumours are spread and people always gossip in the workplace.
Sometimes, it appears that people have nothing better to do than gossip about each other. They talk about everything from the company, to their co-workers, to their managers and even the CEO. The tiniest gist doesn’t pass them by. They are ever-ready to peddle hearsay instead of the truth.
Gossip leads to distrust among employees and lowers their morale and productivity.
Since gossip is common to most offices, we can rightly say that it would be a bit difficult putting a lid to it. What can be done is to manage it effectively. People always want to know what is going on in their workplace, and they like to discuss work issues. Thus, the key is to know when the gossip is out-of-hand.
Action is needed when gossip is
- disrupting the work place and the business of work
- hurting employees’ feelings
- damaging interpersonal relationships, or
- injuring employee motivation and morale
As a manager/supervisor, are you sharing enough information with employees. Is it possible that employees don’t trust you and are afraid to ask you about important topics? When employees don’t trust their manager, or feel they lack information, they make up information to fill in the blanks. That information is often false, but people may believe it and make decisions based on that information.
Take for instance, someone wishes the company would pay salaries on the 15th of every month; another colleague hears and tells another colleague their salaries would be paid on the 15th of every month, without the management calling a meeting to inform everyone. This can be disastrous when it doesn’t come to fruition. The employees could go haywire and refuse to work, thinking the management never stayed true to their promise.
Gossip can be managed just like every other unwanted behaviour in the workplace.
- Gossip management starts with a serious talk between the employee and the manager or supervisor. If the discussion of the negative impact of the employee’s gossip has no effect on that employee’s subsequent behaviour, then the process of progressive discipline with a verbal warning should begin, followed by a formal written verbal warning for the employee’s personnel file.
- Use a coaching approach, when possible, to help the employee improve his or her behaviour. Gossip is often a life-long habit and breaking it can take a great deal of effort. Managers who ignore gossip can destroy a department.
- You should absolutely fire an employee who continues gossiping after being coached. One toxic person can drive your good employees out.
Dealing with gossip is not an easy task, but it must be carried out in order to ensure it does not become the order of the day. By successfully dealing with gossip, you will create a work culture and environment that does not support gossip. This you can do by answering your employees’ questions directly and honestly in order to avoid work-related gossip.
- If the gossip is personal, you must go to the employees in question and make it clear that their co-workers are not an appropriate topic.
What do you think? How is gossip managed in your office? Do share in the comments section.