Office gossip destroys employee loyalty. It is incredibly damaging to employee engagement and your relationships (& reputation)!
I recently worked with a client who often gossiped and spoke ill of others. I’m sure it poured out of his insecurities and probably subconsciously made him feel like he looked better when he put others down. It did quite the opposite.
Keep in mind that a gossip that talks about others in the company also poisons that employee with negative thoughts about coworkers or the organization as a whole. That negativity and “permission to gossip” will start to spread through your team like wildfire. The narrative of discussion around your office is one of the primary ways your company culture will be defined.
Cancer of insecurity:
Healthy people do not feel the need to gossip and they see the glaring reality of your insecurities when you put others down. However, both healthy and emotionally unhealthy people have internal alarms go off around an office gossip.
A few of the messages that it sends are:
- This person can not be trusted
- This person will gossip about me as well
- Avoid working with this person as self preservation
- This person is unstable (loss of sense of security)
The gossiping leader:
When a person in leadership gossips it is demotivating to the employees in multiple areas:
- Reporting information: Why report truth to this leader? …they may say one thing to you, but another to everyone else.
- Less than honest: It does not behove one to share openly and honestly with a gossip, therefore a gossip only receives minimum responses or worse – they are used by others to spread information that may or may not be true.
- Working hard: A gossip leader is just as likely to take credit away from you as give it – so employees will stop putting in the effort to do well.
- Manipulate: People who work for a gossip will learn to manipulate the emotionally insecure individual.
- A desire to seek a more secure place to work will form in healthy people. Or a desire for other healthy relationships.
Gossip creates instability, because there is not full transparency – where everyone knows the same information. Truth can not be known in an environment where all the players are not able to speak their side. Thus true understanding is never reached on any given topic, this handicaps the company and harms individuals as well.
“If you want to be understood, you must first seek to understand.” – Michael Hyatt
The poison of a gossiping tongue spreads fast in a company culture. If it isn’t immediately dealt with it can spread and become a norm for others in the office. Make it very clear for new hires and around the office that gossip is not tolerated at your organization.
When you discover an issue with someone who does gossip, approach them immediately and communicate the following:
- Gossip is not appropriate and will be grounds for termination if continued.
- The company welcomes and values honest communication, the person to communicate concerns to is ______. (name the supervisor)
- While friendship is encouraged with coworkers, issues with individuals in the company should not be shared with other coworkers. Other friends or spouses would be more appropriate.
Did any of these points ring true for an experience you’ve had? Tell us about it in the comments. Your story could really help someone going through their own work situation with gossip.