The toughest part of being a new manager is that you would have to step into situations which are beyond your comfort zone. One such thing is taking care of negative gossips. Yes! Negative gossips can really affect the workflow and ethics of your organization. They are like rodents who are lurking around the corner, waiting for the right opportunity to strike.
Being a manager is tough and it becomes your job to see that your department achieves all the objectives and goals. Of course, this can be a tedious task to do especially with regard to gossipmongers and when they have the liberty to run rampant. However, the good news is, being the new manager or the in-charge, this is the perfect time to get to the bottom of what is happening and how to put an end to it.
Harmful Effects of Negative Gossiping
Negative gossiping can lead to various issues like less productivity (since employees will prefer to gossip around and engage in passing false information), morality (as employees will start to disturb each other and even the management team too), employee turnover and engagement (because most of the high-performing employees will be looking for new jobs), and liability as pervasive gossips is termed as malicious harassment.
How to Prevent Negative Gossiping
• Addressing the Gossipmongers:- The first action you have to take is to stop or prevent the negative gossiping on a personal level. You can do this by directly addressing the gossipmongers one by one. Make sure to do this in confidential places and avoid those areas where others can hear the discussion. You could try your cabin or the conference room with the door shut.
Here your basic goal is to make sure that the person understands the impact of his or her behavior and the consequences of what would occur if the bad behavior continues. You could clearly inform the person that a written warning will go to their personal file or they could get demoted or even lose their job.
• Meet and Discuss With The Team:- Once you have addressed the particular perpetrators one by one, the next step is to have a discussion about the situation with your team. You can do this by having a topic called ‘gossip’ as discussion during the staff meeting. This will easily help your team members to differentiate between positive and negative gossips and the ramifications they have. After that, slowly work with your team to modify the department culture into one which motivates positive gossips.
• Encouraging Positive Gossips:- Do you know that positive gossips can be good for employees and companies? Especially, when employees and managers share positive stories. For example, a pharmaceutical company communicating personal stories related to the millions of lives saved by the new drugs and medications produced by the company. This can make employees feel proud of their company and helps in boosting their morale and reducing the employee turnover.
Also, positive gossips can be related to individual employees like describing about instances where a particular employee went out of his or her way to assist a customer or communicating company-wide or department-wise when a particular employee comes up with product improvement or phenomenal products that result in patent. Make sure to take time during each staff meeting to share and discuss positive gossip stories to motivate positive behavior.
• Modeling The Required Behaviour:- As a new manager, it becomes your responsibility to set an example. Before you were elevated to the managerial position, you must have gossiped with your colleagues. Now is the time to stop this behavior. You need to realize that employees will look up to you with regard to what behavior is acceptable and what is not. It is your responsibility to make sure that you are ‘walking the talk’ all the time and the best example.
Of course, trying to change yours and your subordinates’ habits is not an easy task. But once you are able to do then you will see that your department has become the trend setter for other departments in the company.
Frankly, you need to realize that allowing negative gossip to boom in the workplace; will lead to creating a culture of distrust and have a negative impact on employee morale, productivity, turnover, engagement and not to forget increase the legal liability of the organization. So it is important that new managers have to act quickly. Unless stopped, negative gossips will be like a disease that spreads and creates mayhem throughout the department and the company.
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