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How can we muzzle the office gossip?

by on
in People Management,The HR Specialist Forum

I need help putting a muzzle on one of our workers who is an awful gossip. Recently, one of our best salespeople got help with paperwork duties so she could concentrate on meeting sales goals. An employee overheard two managers discussing the change and immediately ran to co-workers and said the salesperson was being relieved of assignments because she wasn’t making her numbers. That’s not the case at all. Now everyone thinks this good salesperson is being punished. Needless to say, this is embarrassing and has caused a lot of tension. I need to set the record straight—and I would really like to discipline the gossiping employee, who has done this kind of thing before. What should I do?—Stacy, NY


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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

tedi055 July 9, 2010 at 11:52 am

I’ve been down this road before. I had 2 employees which would constantly gossip and criticize. I took a course of action that help me both fix the problem and at the same time prevented any hard felling about the matter. In one of my staff meetings I read out loud a section in dale Carnegies book “how to win friends and influence people” that spoke about criticizing. I expressed that I wanted my coworkers (employees) to follow this simple rule that would help us all. And it worked like a charm. Try it out.

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Anna, NY June 15, 2010 at 2:31 pm

What if it’s not affecting her performance at all, just affecting everyone in the office? The gossip in my office is always going on and on about one incident, and then no one can work until it’s over. She has to find out all the information about EVERYTHING that is going on, then proceed to input her own opinion while telling others all about it.

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ntx January 19, 2010 at 12:21 pm

I would cast this as a performance problem — this person’s gossip is making it difficult for her to be effective. Communicate to her that behaving responsibly and collaborating effectively with co-workers is essential to successful job performance. Tell her that her unprofessional behavior threatens those working relationships. Tell her how to correct this deficiency — by keeping it zipped! Ivoke your progressive discipline process to let her know you are serious about this.

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Rachael January 12, 2010 at 3:14 pm

In my experience, managing gossip takes too many labor hours to be tolerated in the work place – both labor hours from the employees engaging in it and from managers having to find ways to deal with it.

If you think that the gossip may be able to reform her behavior and she is the only one doing this, let her know that such behavior is not acceptable and put her on notice that gossip is an offense that can lead to termination.

If you have had problems in the past and tried discussing them with her, my suggestion would be to terminate.

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