Forget the economy, your competition or even complicated government regulations. What may be harming your company more than any other factor is something that’s so commonplace, you’re probably not aware of its damaging impact: office gossip.
So how prevalent is negative chatter in today’s businesses? The answer may surprise you. According to a survey of company executives by The Creative Group, a staffing firm, 84% said gossip is common in the workplace. In another poll by Randstand USA, gossip tops the list as the biggest workplace pet peeve.
Gossip has the power to divide and destroy everything you’ve built. It kills morale, unity, productivity and creativity, plus causes turnover. So if gossip is so detrimental, how do you stop it? Here are a few ways you can kill the rumor mill.
- Set an Example
Your first step for shutting down gossip is to take a look in the mirror. Are you guilty of talking negatively about someone on your team to another who is not one of your leaders? As the owner or leader of your company, your team watches everything you do and will naturally follow your example.
Quick tip: Avoid impulse communication with team members when you are angry or upset. Show your staff by your actions that gossip will not be tolerated by anyone at your company, including you. And yes, email and text communication count too when it comes to gossip.
Download: 5 Habits That Kill Team Unity
- Be Transparent
One of the main causes of gossip at a company is lack of communication. People want to know what’s going on and why. If not, fear, frustration and anger set in, and the talk begins. Trust your team and avoid what Dave calls “mushroom communication:” keeping them in the dark and feeding them manure. Create a culture of communication. When in doubt, always over-share—as long as you’re not betraying confidences or crossing the gossip line.
Action step: Schedule a mandatory weekly staff meeting for your entire team. For smaller companies, have each team member share something that’s happening. For larger businesses, have leaders in each area report as well as you. And don’t be afraid to have the tough conversations. Let everyone know what’s going on—good or bad. You’ll be amazed at the synergy it creates.
- Just Say No
The easiest solution to stop negative talk is to create a no-gossip policy. Then, have a meeting and explain that if someone gossips, they’re risking their job. It needs to be that serious. At Dave’s company, an offender is warned once. On the second infraction, they’re fired. The bottom line is that gossip is a cancer, and sometimes the only way to keep it from spreading is to cut out the source.
The first step in creating a unified team is to stop the gossip. When you do, you’ll immediately see a difference as your team becomes more comfortable and a whole lot less frustrated. Your team will enjoy working together more, and before you know it, business will become fun again for everyone involved.
Want to create a business where your team is happy, productive and ready to take on each and every day? Join us for our next FREE webinar: The 5 Fixes to Get Your Team to Act Like Owners. Reserve your spot now.