What is WORKPLACE GOSSIP?
When employees speculate about a company, its intention, its leadership, in extreme cases its future, whether coworkers will get fired, and what other employees are doing in their personal lives outside of work. Technically, any sharing of trivial or unsubstantiated information can be considered gossip.
It all seems so harmless RIGHT ?. WRONG..... The little chitchat in the lunchroom about things you are unhappy with or about so and so IN THE TODDLERS ROOM. The debate over why your manager made that decision or the chat about someone’s relationship with someone else.
Let’s say you are not a gossiper. You simply listen to your coworkers so as not be rude.
Here’s the thing that most people don’t realize as a listener,
you are a co-narrator to the gossip.
In other words, the act of active listening actually supports and promotes gossiping.
The more you listen, the more you encourage it. If you don’t listen, the gossip has nowhere to go. Think about the last time you told a story to someone who was clearly not interested.
The story probably withered on the vine.
Many managers turn a blind eye to employee gossip (or worse, participate in it). THIS blind eye will result in low employee morale and a toxic culture.
In a past company, I was employed at all employees knew that the minute they shared information with the L&D Manager, he would share it in his one-on-one meetings with other coworkers. The department's morale was low, and the gossip made the employees distrust each other and not share anything with their manager—all of it the manager's doing.
How to manage gossip as a business leader
You can manage gossip exactly as you would manage any other negative behavior from an employee in your workplace. Use a coaching approach, when possible, to help the employee improve his or her behavior. Gossip is often a life-long habit and breaking it can take a great deal of effort. Managers who ignore gossip can destroy a business.
But, when needed, gossip management starts with a serious talk between the employee and the manager or supervisor. If discussion of the negative impacts of the employee’s gossip does not affect subsequent behavior, begin the process of progressive discipline with a verbal warning, then a formal written, verbal warning for the employee’s personnel file.
You absolutely should TERMINATE an employee who continues gossiping
after participating in coaching.
One toxic person can drive your good employees out, especially if they see that the behavior is going unaddressed.
If you assertively deal with gossip, you will create a work culture and environment that does not support gossip. You need to answer your employees' questions directly and honestly to avoid work-related gossip.
If the gossip is personal, you must go to the employees in question and make it clear that their coworkers are not an appropriate topic.