How to Deal with a Culture of Gossip and Backbiting?
Hi all, I am in the following situation:
- I am the deputy of a Team Manager (TM).
- The team consists of people with low- or very low education. They love to gossip and backbite either the other team mates or the manager.
- The Business Owner (BO) likes gossip and backbiting. That has become part of the culture of the company. He encourages the team mates to come to him and share their gossips, so that sometimes there is a queue in front of his door.
- The TM tried to discuss this many times with the BO without any success.
What one could do in this situation? I am new to team management and is the first time in my life when I manage /deputize a team. Thank you for your tips.
Jaap de Jonge
How to Get Rid of Workplace Gossip
The first steps would probably be to ask the business owner why he/she encourages this. Then create awareness about the effects of such existing culture and behavior on the company.
Perhaps it could be helpful to explore that there is a big difference in exchanging positive gossip (about market, customer demands, etc.) and spreading negative gossip and backbiting.
Assuming you succeed in establishing such awareness and there is a willingness to do something about the culture of workplace backbiting and gossip, I found following advices to eradicate (negative) gossip at work:
1. Implement 'zero-tolerance' policies on workplace gossip.
2. Set an example. As a leader, be a good role model for others to follow and don't engage in the gossip.
3. Let the boss know. Have the courage to inform your immediate boss if the gossip is increasing.
4. Address the perpetrators. Stand up to the lead perpetrators and address them one-on-one
5. If you're a manager, meet with your team. Bring up the topic of gossip in a staff meeting to educate your team on its negative consequences.
6. Encourage positive gossip.
7. Ignore the gossiper. Gossipmongers thrive on attention.
8. Turn it back on the gossiper with a positive thing to say. Deflect the negative gossip with the exact opposite.
9. Keep your private life private. Don't trust personal information with anyone at work that will be fodder for gossip.
Source: Marcel Schwantes, "9 Ways to Get Rid of Workplace Gossip Immediately", Inc.