Document behavior not office gossip

by on June 29, 2009 · 0 Comment POSTED IN: HR Info Center

Behaviors can be quantified, office gossip cannot

If we can’t describe it, we can’t manage it the old phrase, “If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it.” So take office gossip out of the subjective and make it objective. I mean when you talk about office gossip p, gab and grapevine, what’s driving us crazy?

So if I go to HR, go to my boss and say, “You know, Erik is driving me nuts.” “Well, what does that mean?” “The boy’s got an attitude problem.” “Well, what does that mean?” “Nobody has an attitude problem.

Performance trumps an office gossip problem
Have they ever performed — are they doing their job?” “Well, yeah.” But they’re driving everybody crazy. Or they’re keeping other people from doing their job. What are they doing that’s driving them crazy? I mean if you can describe it to the boss at HR, you can describe it to me, to somebody, and then you can hold people accountable to.

To HR and the legal people, attitude is a word that’s kind of code for protective groups and classes, age, sex, race, religion, national origin, and disability. That’s how opposing legal counsel, that’s how outsiders look at it. So the word “attitude” should be out of our vocabulary. It shouldn’t come out of our mouth and it shouldn’t be on any evaluation. It shouldn’t be written in any handbook.

Keep the idea. Just get a new word, “behavior”. Behaviors, go after behavior, document the negative behavior, like office gossip. Hire, fire for behavior. When you talk gossip, gab and grapevine, what are they doing? Well, they’re badmouthing coworkers. That’s a specific behavior. You can go after the specific behavior.

Now, you’ve got something. “But I do my job.” No, at least 50% of anybody’s job is their ability to get along with coworkers and most importantly, to get along with me. I am the boss.

Be consistent with behavior and office gossip standards
“Well, that’s not fair.” It’s not supposed to be fair. The closest we come (fair) work is consistent. What I owe to the employee is the communication of standard. We’re okay communicating the performance standards. Most of us, we’re lousy communicating our behavior standard.

Want a working behavior and office gossip standard that you can put in any job description, any handbook. I’ve even seen this in negotiated union contracts. There it is.

Make this 50% of anybody’s job. Maintain a positive work atmosphere by acting communicating in a manner so that you get along with customers, clients, coworkers, and most importantly, me, the boss.

Edited remarks from the Rapid Learning Institute conference Gossip, Gab, and the Grapevine: How to Neutralize its Negative Impact by Hunter Lott

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