Lose the Gossip

Gossip does not do anybody any good, and it does plenty of bad, in your workplace. Careers get damaged, teams get wrecked, and people’s attention gets diverted from their work. For employees who really need to be thinking about what they are doing, gossip gets pretty distracting.

You may think it’s fun to go to the person who knows everything about everyone and see what’s up, but remember, anyone who gossips TO you will gossip ABOUT you.

The first step in limiting gossip is to create a culture of mutual respect. Discuss this with employees, emphasizing the positive atmosphere of your workplace and the benefits of working with people you respect. Do not present it as “be nice or you will get fired,” but instead put it in a positive light.

Be sure, of course, that if you are talking that talk, you are walking that walk. Do not be publicly negative, try not to criticize people in front of others, and do not be a gossip yourself.

If you have an employee who is spreading gossip, step in and make the point that it is unprofessional. You do not need to do it in a harsh way, you could even try to make a little joke about it, but get the message across that it is unprofessional. Let them know that nothing hurts your workplace quite like employees who act like they are 12 years old. Anything you can do that makes them think about what they are doing should help.

If it does not stop then pull them aside one-on-one and be more direct. You do not have to be threatening, but let them know they’re disrupting the organization.

If they still do not stop, then consider if you can let them go. As a leader you do not need to give people an infinite number of chances…once you counsel them directly on their conduct then they know what is right and what isn’t. At the same time, you need to consider the uniqueness of your employee’s skills and balance the problems they are causing with the benefits they bring to your organization.

An important thing to keep in mind is that you should never make personnel decisions based on gossip. If you hear “so-and-so said…” don’t just take that at face value. Be sure to get all sides of the story.

Working with a bunch of outgoing employees can be a great thing. Just make sure that outgoing-ness is used for good, not evil.

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