Workplace gossip. Every company has workplace gossip. In most cases, gossip not good and you should address it quickly, whenever possible.
Why do employees gossip?
- To feel “in-the-know” – oftentimes employees feel empowered if they think they know something and they cannot wait to tell others
- To feel more included – an employee may get a feeling of teamwork by being able to share information
- Employees gossip simply because they are bored and stir the pot
- Other employees may gossip because it is a social event for them
- Some people gossip, sit back and watch the drama unfold
Employee gossip is not always done with malicious intent. Sometimes people simply want to share what they have heard.
The biggest problem with gossip – well, it is called gossip for a reason. That said, you may hear a rumor started by someone. In other cases, actual information gets miscommunicated therefore it becomes gossip.
The point is gossip is typically not good.
I always encourage leaders to listen. Listen to everything, everywhere. There are many reasons for developing great listening skills. One reason is if you hear gossip you can stop it.
Leaders: If you hear gossip:
Shut it down
In my former role, I would encourage employees to come to me. If you hear something, before you spread it around, come to me and I will tell you if it is true. Don’t contribute to it.
As a leader, here are a few things you can do to stop gossip:
- Most importantly – SET THE EXAMPLE and do not contribute to gossip
- Be available. I really do not like the term open-door policy but tell your employees to talk to you before they get caught up in something untrue or irrelevant.
- Be transparent with information whenever possible, as often as possible
- Try to understand why it is happening. Find the cause and address it.
- Encourage communication about ideas, problems solving or process improvement
- Have the conversations with your employees about the damage false information causes
- Do not ignore it, otherwise, it will likely get worse
Gossip can damage trust, engagement and be destructive to teams. You work hard to develop strong, cohesive teams, don’t let gossip get in the way of something great.