Gossip... The "secret" (workplace) culture killer

Gossip... The "secret" (workplace) culture killer

"Tolerating a bad employee is a quick way to demotivate a great employee." - Gene Hammett

According to HRZone, "Workplace gossip is a form of informal communication among colleagues focused on the private, personal, and sensitive affairs of others.".

We've all been faced with the following situations... A coworker approaches us with information about another colleague, we overhear 2 coworkers speaking poorly of another colleague, or we see a coworker doing the wrong thing, and we decide to relay the information to someone else ...

While it might seem harmless to share a juicy piece of information or sympathise with a coworker about a difficult colleague, gossip can have serious consequences for both individuals and the workplace as a whole. For one thing, it can create mistrust among team members and create a toxic atmosphere of negativity and suspicion. Furthermore, reputations can be tarnished, and individuals may fall victim to false assumptions or misunderstandings.

The role of the manager

What do you do as a manager, leader, or director, if you become aware of gossip occurring in your workplace? Do you do nothing and hide your head in the sand, like an ostrich, and hope the problem goes away by itself? Or do you take the bull by the horns and tackle the problem head-on?

Both of these choices have consequences...

  1. If you ignore the problem and hope it goes away by itself, you show your team that you condone the behaviour and don't value their work or the work environment that they have to work in. Perry Belcher said: "Nothing will kill a great employee faster, than watching a leader tolerate a bad one". Furthermore, you will have to constantly deal with negativity, lack of productivity, lack of trust, increased conflict, low morale, decreased engagement, and high staff turnover, to name a few, which is such a waste of your own valuable time. In turn, this may have other detriments to your organisation, such as financially straining resources, tarnishing your reputation, and impeding overall growth and success.
  2. On the other hand, if you tackle the problem head-on, you might lose some really good workers, ruffle some feathers, and upset some people, You will need grit, resilience, and determination to deal with this issue. However, the positive consequences for you and your team will far outweigh any of the above... Improved trust and collaboration amongst your team, a positive work environment, increased productivity, a healthy (physically and mentally) and safe workplace for all, higher employee retention, and increased professionalism, to name a few.

Part of a leader's role is to promptly address any issues that may arise and communicate the expectations of the company or organisation to their team. They also have to lead by example and foster trust within their team.

The long-term effects of not dealing with gossip are greater than the short-term efforts that leaders have to put in, to get rid of gossip.

5 Tips to start addressing gossip in your workplace

  1. Communicate Expectations Clearly: Clearly communicate to your team that gossip is not acceptable in the workplace. Set clear expectations about respectful communication and establish policies or guidelines that explicitly address gossip.
  2. Lead by Example: As a leader, model the behaviour you expect from your team. Refrain from engaging in or participating in gossip yourself. Demonstrate open and honest communication, and encourage others to do the same.
  3. Encourage Open Dialogue: Create an environment that encourages open dialogue and provides a safe space for employees to voice concerns or address conflicts directly. Promote active listening and encourage employees to communicate directly with one another to resolve issues.
  4. Provide Conflict Resolution Support: Offer training or resources to help employees develop conflict resolution skills. Provide guidance and support in navigating difficult conversations and resolving conflicts in a constructive manner. This helps reduce the need for gossip as a means of addressing conflicts.
  5. Foster a Positive Work Culture: Foster a positive work culture based on trust, respect, and teamwork. Recognise and reward positive behaviour, encourage collaboration, and celebrate achievements. A positive work culture can help minimise the occurrence of gossip and create an environment where employees feel valued and supported.

Remember, addressing gossip requires consistent effort and ongoing commitment from leaders. By implementing these tips, leaders can take the first steps towards creating a gossip-free workplace culture.

Want to learn more?

1. Purchase my ebook "How to get rid of workplace gossip... for good!" where I'll take you through a step-by-step process to get rid of workplace gossip for good.

2. Book a free 15-minute Jumpstart Your Journey Strategy Call with me

3. Follow me on Facebook

4. Connect with me on LinkedIn

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