I have a small business with 17 people in the main office and another 44 mobile techs in the field. We had a merger last year, and although we've overcome rivalries and other difficulties, gossip is a huge issue in the office. How can we solve this problem and still maintain morale?
I have a zero-tolerance policy for gossip. Gossip will absolutely destroy an organization, and most places that have gossip running rampant are just cesspools. I can't imagine wanting to be a part of a situation like that. Gossip is small-minded, it shuts down everyone involved, and the worst gossip of all is when workers gossip about the person who pays them!
It's really simple at my place. My team knows they need to go to someone in leadership if they've got a problem or something's bothering them. They know better than to stand around and complain to the receptionist about something someone in another department did or said. Negatives go up, and positives go down. If you've got a problem, you take it to someone who can fix the problem.
If I walked into the kind of mess you're talking about, I'd call a staff meeting, and we'd definitely cut that cancer out. I'd have no problem telling them if they want to keep their jobs they'd better stop the gossip and quit acting like a bunch of teenage drama queens. I'm not talking about being a bully. I'm talking about being clear and blunt about what will and will not be tolerated in your organization.
You may have to be a tough guy for a while and fire a few people. That's okay, because there are lots of folks out there looking for work who can take their places. But as a result, you'll be left with people who want to work there, who want to be responsible, mature team members, and a culture that defends itself against gossip!
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