Trying to eradicate all office gossip can be an uphill, or almost impossible task. Employees will always be concerned with those issues that affect them in the workplace and will naturally want to talk to one another about them.
However, if gossip in the workplace has reached the point where it’s creating disruption and affecting the performance and motivation of employees, then it’s probably time to address the issue. Knowing why office gossip occurs will help any manager in dealing with it.
Consider whether a lack of transparency around certain issues could be causing the gossip. For example, if people are gossiping about certain individuals having recently been promoted, look at the way in which your company has handled the promotion process. It could be that a lack of easily available information about how to progress in the company is leading people to believe that promotion is only possible through favoritism.
It may also pay to look at the ways in which your company communicates with its employees. Gossip usually occurs when there’s a lack of information, which leads to individuals speculating and circulating rumors.
It’s better if employees are kept informed about workplace practices. This is especially true if there’s a chance that your company will have to undergo a major upheaval in the future (e.g. a redundancy program, or relocation).
Keeping employees informed will help alleviate any concerns they may have. In addition, holding regular meetings at which employees are encouraged to ask questions about future changes will also help to eradicate any gossip that may spring up in response to an announcement.
In addition, always try to make yourself accessible to your staff members. This way, if they have any concerns or questions, they will come to you first for information instead of relying on office gossip. If your employees feel that they can trust you then they are more likely to discuss any rumors they’ve heard circulating around the office which means that you can nip them in the bud before they escalate and do any damage.
If it’s one or two individuals who are responsible for spreading gossip around, then you should deal with them in the same way you would any person displaying negative behavior.
Discuss the matter with the individuals concerned, pointing out the adverse effect their behavior is having on workplace morale and motivation. If the individuals’ behavior doesn’t improve, then you may need to take the matter further as gossip can affect performance and productivity.
If someone approaches you with gossip to share, make it clear that you have no interest in hearing it. It’s important that, as a manager, you are seen to lead by example. That means refraining from becoming involved in any gossip and making it clear to the individual concerned that gossip has no place in your department or in the organisation as a whole.