To Curtail Gossip In The Workplace, Know Why It Happens

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

Understand Employee Motivation for Gossip In The Workplace

If you want to understand the motivation of anybody, first, you got to realize you don’t control this. Bosses used to rely on this idea of do it or else. Well, now, you know, they did that for so long employees took us up on the or else. And this generation of employees is going to force us to be better managers. They’re going to force us to do the things we should have been doing all along nonetheless frustrating if you’re managing regardless of the generations.

First, understand what we can control. You can’t make your employees do anything they don’t want to do. You don’t control them but you do control my responses and the situation. So, there are things you can do. And there are things you can do and say to limit the negative effects of gossip in the workplace.

If you want to understand the motivation of any employee, just answer the following two questions. What’s being rewarded? What’s their motivation for change? What’s being rewarded? What’s their motivation for change? If they’re complaining, if they’re spreading rumors, if they’re being negative and enabling gossip in the workplace, it’s a problem. That’s the kind of language and destructive communication that undermines our ability to do our jobs. And so, why are they doing this? Well, what’s being rewarded? If they’ve done it for ten years, they’re going to continue to do it because what happens to them if they do it? Nothing.

It’s just like somebody comes in late. If somebody comes in late everyday and we don’t do anything, then we’ve created an implied contract that their coming in late is okay. If as management we tolerate someone’s whining, or starting gossip in the workplace and we choose to ignore it, then we send a message to everybody else, “Hey, this is okay.” This is like bedtime with kids. You set a bedtime, 8:30. You go up after 8:30 and nothing happens, most kids – based on their personality, are going to push the line, “Hey, I got it waived last night. I can go at it again.”

And you’ll see that when you’re not communicating there’s this gap. And if there’s a gap between what you’re communicating and what they’re getting, they’re going to fill that gap. And in tough times, they’re going to fill it with gossip in the workplace. Again, employees would rather be miserable than bored.

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

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