Friday, November 20, 2009

Work place gossip

A recent email from a coaching client asked, How do I stop people gossiping in the workplace?

The reality is that you cannot stop people from gossip, we all do it from time to time. Each of us has a personal responsibility to ensure our gossip causes no harm, to either an individual or stakeholder groups.

What can you do as a manager? There are a number of things you can do and some things you should avoid doing. Firstly issuing an edict or ordering someone to stop gossiping is unlikely to be successful - all that will achieve is force the gossip underground, where it can be even more destructive.

As a manager gossip can be informative, it can alert you to potential issues. This is not to suggest you should encourage gossip rather that you should listen to what is being said around the traps.

Gossip is often negative. It is only someone's personal perspective, an opinion, often not based upon facts or the truth. This means there is an alternative, a positive alternative, often based upon the facts. As a manager you have a responsibility to provide a balanced, factual perspective. Even if someone negative is taking place inside the organisations, for example an unwelcome change to roles, if you think about it there will be positive outcomes.

Often people don't realise the impact their gossip can have upon others. Taking them aside an explaining to them the possible impact; even asking them how they might feel if others gossiped about them in this manner may help raise their awareness.

As a manager you often have a broader perspective of matters and are able to broaden the perspective off others. The most important thing you can do as a manager is be a role model. Avoid becoming involved in workplace gossip. Avoid unsubstantiated gossip of your own. Be concious of what you are saying, about who and to who. Be aware of the impact off your own language and stories.

Let The Journey Continue

John Coxon
Taking You From Frontline Manager to CEO

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