Do you remember those dreaded cliques in High School? Whispers and glances as you walked through the halls? It would be nice if schoolyard gossip ended when we stopped going to school. But unfortunately, it often follows us into the office. If you’d like to improve teamwork in the workplace, you’ll need to nip gossip in the bud and improve the culture of communication in your department.
When band members talk behind one another’s back, trust is broken, feelings get hurt, and eventually, the tight-knit unit will erode. The same thing will happen within your company if you don’t get a handle on gossip. Marvelless Mark® tells his clients that if you want your employees to achieve rock star results, gossip has no place in the workplace.
The Dangers of “Water Cooler Gossip”
It’s so easy to share what you know about other people. And 90% of the time, you’re not trying to hurt them. Unfortunately, when you talk about a coworker without them present, problems arise including:
- Lost productivity. This seems like it goes without saying, but if your employees spend all their time talking about each other, they won’t spend any time working toward their goals.
- Destruction of trust. Your employees are less likely to lean on one another for support, come to each other with issues, and trust each other if gossip is being spread.
- Destruction of friendships and respect. When you hear something negative about someone, you tend to view them through that filter.
- Destruction of reputations. Nothing can ruin a career faster than a rumor running rampant through the office.
- Anxiety among employees. When gossip is spreading throughout the office, you can feel it hanging in the air. This increases anxiety, not just for the topic of conversation, but for everyone involved.
When gossip becomes a common theme in your office, your employees will be less satisfied at work, take more sick days, and eventually quit to escape the environment. Creating a “no-gossip zone” is not just good for improving teamwork, it’s necessary for the health of your business.
How to Prevent Gossip in the Workplace
As a manager, it’s your job to set a good example for your employees, to educate them about the dangers of gossip, and to construct guidelines to prevent it from happening within your team. You can do this by:
- Communicate expectations. Host a department-wide meeting to let your employees know what constitutes “gossip” and that there will be repercussions for engaging in this behavior. Be very clear that you have a zero-tolerance policy and that it is there to protect every employee.
- Encourage employees to come to you if they hear gossip among the team. Promise that any reports will be strictly confidential (and uphold that promise) so they are comfortable approaching you.
- Address the gossiper face to face. Let them know that their behavior is not acceptable, that they are damaging the team, and then dole out whatever consequence you outlined during the meeting.
- Encourage positive talk throughout the office. If employees are busy building each other up, they won’t have time to tear each other down.
- Advise employees to be cautious about who they share aspects of their personal life with. While it’s good team building to encourage socialization among employees, they should also be aware that personal information should only be shared with those they really trust.
When you make a conscious effort to improve the working environment of your team by removing gossip from the office, your employees will rise to the rank of rock stars.
“I used to think that anyone doing anything weird was weird. I suddenly realized that anyone doing anything weird wasn’t weird at all and it was the people saying they were weird that were weird.”- Paul McCartney
Mark Kamp® aka Marvelless Mark® works with organizations who want their teams to achieve immediate rock star results. A Keynote Speaker/Entertainer/Author, Husband, Father, and child of God, his primary message, “Opportunity Rocks®” gives attendees a fresh new perspective on Sales, Marketing, and Employee Performance. Fun and engaging, Mark combines the success secrets of your favorite rock stars with just the right amount of entertainment to transform your employees into business rockstars. Learn more at www.OpportunityRocks.net.