So, there are several reasons why you could be reading this. First, you like reading the leadership blogs. Second, you thought there was going to be some hot gossip. I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt and assume it was the first!
You see, we love gossip. We can’t get enough of it. Sometimes it’s harmless. Most likely, it is leading to and/or reinforcing a toxic culture in your workplace, and that’s anything but harmless.
Gossip, rumour and innuendo rarely lead to anything good. They might be a bit of light entertainment or escape but to be quite frank there is no place for them in an organisation that is trying to build a strong, positive culture.
So, what can you do about it? I reckon the most effective approach is the direct one. Say “enough is enough and we are not going to do it any more”. In a team meeting you discuss what has been happening and the harm that it causes. You then ask for a commitment from your people that involves three things.
1. They no longer participate in gossip. The rule should be don’t say anything about someone that you wouldn’t say in front of them.
2. They refuse to participate in it. When someone tries to drag them into a conversation, they excuse themselves.
3. They call others on it. “That’s gossip and it’s not helping us build a positive culture and it should stop”, or similar.
It’s the leader’s role to say “enough is enough” when it comes to gossip. It takes courage, but it’s worth it.