How to stop office gossip

Office gossip has the nasty habit of creating conflict among our teams and between departments, and can cause resentment to managers who fail to address the problems.

When office gossip is left to run rampant through our businesses, what we mainly find is a decrease in trust. Employees don’t trust each other, management is resented for not addressing the problem and the openness that usually helps us as companies thrive is gone.

Productivity and co-operation drop, conflict increases, and if left unchecked office gossip can result in our “good” employees looking for work in a more conducive working environment.

So how do we curb the office gossip and get back on track, I hear you ask?

Step 1

Identify what the issues are.

What this means is that you’ll have to speak with your managers to find out exactly what they’ve heard. You can’t address an issue if you aren’t really sure what it is, and simply announcing that office gossip won’t be tolerated anymore isn’t going to get the results you’re after.

Step 2

Have a one-on-one with the culprit(s).

It is likely that the person spreading the gossip is not aware of how his or her actions are affecting the people around them, so sit down with them, privately, and have a conversation about the effects of gossip on morale, productivity and trust within the office.

Step 3

Have a questions and answers session with all staff.

One effective way to clear the air (because some staff, even though not sharing the gossip they have heard, may still believe it) is to have an open questions and answers session. Provide employees with the opportunity to anonymously submit questions (both for the sake of complete openness as well as to enable you to prepare your replies) and create an open dialog where all manner of issues can be discussed.

Step 4

Discipline only as a last resort.

People will talk and we don’t necessarily want to discourage this. After all, a certain amount of office gossip is actually a good thing (it’s only the negative kind we don’t want). Therefore, what you should rather do is, if you are able to identify the “gossip” among your staff, instead request that should they hear any gossip they bring it directly to you. Explain to them, though, the importance of getting their facts straight. In this way we hope to quell the rumours and gossip and rather look at the facts.

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