Gossip at Work. What to do about it.
One of the most difficult challenges of any leader is to create a work environment where people get a long and feel safe from negative confrontation, backstabbing and gossip. I have had the opportunity to work with and develop many leaders and teams over the years; one of the great poisons to teamwork is gossip at work.
Several years ago I was brushing my teeth when one of my kids informed me that my two-year old son had used the very toothbrush that I was using! That may not gross you out, but I am a germ freak of sorts. I know some of you use the same toothbrush your spouse uses and having your kid’s use your toothbrush is hunky-dory with you. However, it isn’t okay with me. I immediately dropped the tainted toothbrush and threw it in the garbage. I would never use that toothbrush again – yuck! Now, my kids could have said they were joking. They could have said my two-year old never used it, but it didn’t matter. That toothbrush would never be the same again.
Gossip at work does the same thing. Whether it’s true or not, it taints a person’s character and reputation forever. And the person spreading the gossip becomes less trusting to others. It affects teamwork.
There are things that leaders can do to mitigate it, but it isn’t easy. Here are three suggestions that have worked for me.
1. State it. Leaders have the responsibility of teaching and setting direction. Some of a leader’s time teaching and setting direction should be talking about the unacceptable activity of gossip at work.
2. Prevent it. Teams that spend time together, build relationships and improve their understanding of each other are less likely to gossip at work.
3. Nip it. Research shows that if gossip is immediately challenged, the gossip will stop.
Here are some other posts you might find useful:
Leaders Ought Not to Be Hateful
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