Rumors in the workplace can have a vicious effect on employee morale, especially during uncertain economic times. A three-step approach of open communication, direct confrontation, and appropriate punishment is the best way to address pernicious office gossip.
A policy of open communication with your employees is the best way to combat workplace rumors about yourself or your business. If you let your employees know as soon as possible about any significant upcoming changes to the business or workplace, it will have the effect of stopping rumors before they even get started. If you let your employees know that your door is always open to them, they may come to you for guidance and help if they suspect a hurtful workplace rumor has started about them. If you treat your employees with respect and consistently demonstrate an open door policy, they may even be able to alert you about unpleasant gossip spreading about you or your business in time for you to do effective damage control.
Once a workplace rumor has started the only way to put an end to it is to confront it. If the rumor is about you or your business, simply set the record straight. Some people may believe you, some may not, but time will eventually reveal the truth. If the rumor is about one of your employees, offer to confront the gossipmonger yourself or support your employee if they opt to confront the culprit themselves. Confrontation in this context need not be overly dramatic. If a gossip is confronted in a straightforward and calm manner, they are likely to back down immediately and consider their actions more carefully in the future.
If you want to maintain a healthy office environment, employees need to be valued according to their behavior as well as their performance. The biggest gossip in your office cannot get away with spreading lies and half-truths about you, your business, or your employees just because he also happens to be your biggest rainmaker. Ultimately, the damage that this employee could do to you could far outweigh any benefit he brings to your company. Make sure to note any proven instances of inappropriate behavior in his file, and make it clear to him that his jobs depends on his ability to learn a little respect for you, your business, and his fellow employees.
Bank of America
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New York Magazine
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