Is Your Office a Gossip Shop?

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Let’s face it – we all have our quirks. Part of working with others is the opportunity to develop collaborative working relationships. Other people’s habits and behaviors affect us when we are in a shared environment. In many instances, these are the people that we interact with for the majority of our days. As a natural result, friendships form as trust and respect are gained from our day-in and day-out interactions. You may have experienced this in your own company. And then, one day… BOOM! Like a bolt of lightening, an employee begins to engage in storytelling that looks and smells an awful lot like gossip.

“Did you hear about Kathy? She is dating one of her supervisors…” or “I think Corey is on something. He has been late a lot lately and his eyes are watery…”

And with that bolt of lightening you have an out-of-control wildfire on your hands. It only takes one person to spark this type of destruction. Once one person speculates to another and then another, that speculation soon becomes a “fact,” and the object(s) of the gossip are in a position to defend the truth. This type of defensive space can shut down trust and, as a result, the creativity and collaboration that take so long to cultivate are lost. Gossip wars can emerge with retaliation, and the cycle of destruction keeps on going.

So how can you protect your workplace from gossip? Here are a few tips to help you guide your employees in stamping out the gossip wildfire.

Change the Subject.

If a conversation isn’t heading in a positive direction, encourage staff to change its course by politely changing the subject. It can be easy to say something that’s interesting – and upbeat – while also sending them a clear signal that you don’t want to talk about whatever you perceive to be gossip.

Say something positive about the person who’s the target of gossip.

No matter how negative a story about a person may seem, we rarely have all of the facts and there are likely positive qualities to that person. Remind people who are engaging in gossip that the person they’re talking about has done or said something praiseworthy by mentioning something specific that’s positive.

Confront gossip politely yet firmly.

Stand up to people who are gossiping by saying that you don’t want to know about the story they’re trying to tell you. Don’t hesitate to call out gossip when you hear it, but do so with grace. For example, you could say something like: “That sounds like it is none of my business, so I don’t really want to hear any more. Let’s just drop it.” Encourage your employees to hold others accountable for their choice of words.

Point out missing information.

If all else fails, ask questions that point out gaps in a story, such as specific times and places of events that supposedly happened. Challenge gossiping people to tell you how they personally verified the information they’re spreading about others. Help them see that just because they heard a story doesn’t mean it’s true – and even if it is, they can’t possibly have an accurate perspective on the situation.

Making it clear to your staff that gossip will not be tolerated. Eliminating gossip in the workplace will perpetuate an ongoing culture of kindness and respect.

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Managing Employees Who Are Working Remotely: Bringing Your Team Together, Even When They’re a World Apart

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Modern technology has ushered in a bold, new era in terms of employee productivity. Case in point: thanks to not only cloud computing but mobile technology, almost ANY employee can become a remote worker if they truly desire. Employees can be just as productive at a coffee shop as they could from their desk in the office, which has meant big things for businesses in all industries. For the people tasked with actually managing these remote employees, however, it can quickly become a challenge, to say the least.

If you want to get better at managing employees who are working remotely and your goal is to bring your team together even when they’re a world apart, you’ll want to keep a few key things in mind.

Lay Down the Ground Rules

Some employees who are working remotely tend to have this romantic idea that they are their own boss or that they “work for themselves.” After all, they don’t have to go into the office to be productive – they can work with the TV on if they want to or decide to stay in their pajamas all day if they feel like it, right?

Wrong. In reality, even remote employees still have a very real boss – the work itself. This is the master they’re trying to serve, and while they do have an extra level of comfort that on-site employees might not, any decision that takes away from the quality of the work is one that has to go.

Establishing a firm set of ground rules for all employees who are working remotely is essential to getting everyone on the same page. Whether it’s the fact that they have to work at least X number of hours per day. or that they have to be available between 9:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m., or even a rule saying that you’ll have at least one video conference per day, rules are important to not only keep everyone focused but also to make sure you’re all working towards the same long-term goal.

It’s All About Perspective

Above all else, it’s important for you and your employees to start looking at working remotely as a privilege, not a right. Just because the technology exists and is more affordable than ever does NOT mean it is something that they are entitled to. If a top-quality employee who previously worked on-site switches to remote access and the quality of the work suffers, you have to see the situation for what it is: someone who is abusing that privilege. If that situation arises, it’s time to not only bring them back into the office (if possible) but make sure that all other employees know that the same thing can happen to them in the future.

Encourage Communication

The type of work that you’re doing cannot exist in a vacuum, yet this is exactly what you’re creating if you don’t encourage or even insist that remote workers still communicate and collaborate with one another. Even if it’s something as simple as a quick daily phone call, it’s hugely important for remote workers to understand that what they’re doing affects everyone else at the same time. It’s far too easy for someone who doesn’t go into the office to start thinking “out of sight, out of mind” in terms of their fellow employees. Encouraging regular communication can help prevent this from happening.

Working remotely for a business is a truly great thing, but the opposite can certainly be true if you’re not careful. Only by establishing ground rules, holding people accountable, and by having the right perspective will you be able to unlock all of the benefits of remote workers with as few of the downsides as possible.