When office gossip is a prominent workplace feature, it can be indicative of a larger problem. No matter what the gossiping looks like—an eye roll or whispers behind someone’s back—it can mean people are uncomfortable with discussing office issues with. This shows the organization has an problem, writes Meredith Haberfeld, founder and CEO of ThinkHuman.
Leaders with aggressive management styles can make employees fear harsh criticism. Employees talk with each other instead of with their managers, which leads to low morale and low productivity.
If your organization has a gossip problem, here are three ways to get rid of it:
1. Allow people to vent. While gossip is unproductive, it can be safer for individuals to vent their feelings. Creating safe spaces to openly address colleagues instead of talking behind each other’s backs allows for a more productive dialogue. This requires listening to others and providing confidentiality that allows for vulnerability.
2. Set an example. When it comes to the expectations of the company, make sure no one is exempt from those standards.
3. Remember the value of feedback. An open, transparent workplace will welcome some negative feedback. The negative feedback must be adapted into constructive action for the company. When people see others take their feedback seriously, they’ll start to trust the company’s efforts.
— Adapted from “Three Steps to End Office Gossip,” Meredith Haberfeld, Fast Company.