Defining Office Gossip is a Crucial Step To Stopping it

by on June 30, 2009 · 0 Comment POSTED IN: HR Info Center

What does office gossip mean to you?

It is important to define the kind of behavior that you will not accept as a manager. It’s easy to define what you expect performance-wise, or what bad performance is. But it’s important too, to define what bad behavior is, and what kind of behavior you expect from your employees as a manager.

A manager can define it, and then begin to hold employees accountable for their behavior. Ignoring the behavior is useless, it rarely works. A manager must hold the employees accountable. So, when they complain about something, when you confront them about what their office gossip has involved, you can ask them what they propose to fix the problem.

Conflicts are to be expected, and co-workers are bound to have problems. It is smart to recognize and define the kinds of general problems that will most likely arise, and specify a way to handle it as a company. In order to go after office gossip, you must define it. One company made what they called “triangulation” a serious offense. Triangulation is having an issue with someone and talking about it with somebody else. Companies need to let their employees know how to handle triangulation. If an employee has an issue with someone, they need to talk about it with them directly, have the confrontational conversation. Employees have to stop talking about it behind others’ backs, because that is where the office gossip and the negativity starts.

In some situations, be aware that it may be considered harassment to forced confrontation. If an employee does not feel comfortable directly confronting another without talking to another person first, it is tactful to allow them to do that. However, the conversation readying the employee for confrontation should include making a plan for an actual direct confrontation.

By confronting office gossip, treating it as behavior, communicating expectations, you’re not going to put an end to it. But, you start to manage it. This way, office gossip will have less negative impact on your employees working together to produce something.

Edited Remarks From “Gossip, Gab and the Grapevine: How to Neutralize Its Negative Impact” by Hunter Lott

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