As a manager, there are a lot of unpleasant things you’ll have to deal with within the work environment. While you might think that your duties should remain focused on the work performance of your employees, it is a manager’s responsibility to ensure the office is a place of respect and professionalism. Occasionally, you’ll have to deal with the kind of behaviour that is usually seen in high school. No matter the ages of your employees, some people still bring a lot of immaturity to work., for instance, office gossip. Some managers feel that this sort of thing is best left ignored, but that’s the wrong approach. These things can make for a very unpleasant, unfriendly and unproductive office. Left unresolved, the problem will only grow. Here’s how you can properly deal with office gossip to ensure it isn’t a problem in your office.
Get the whole story first.
While squashing this sort of thing early is a good idea, you don’t want to rush in before you have all the facts. It can be quite easy to assume who is to blame in these situations, but there are always more factors to consider. You may not have heard what you thought you heard. Someone may have brought this to your attention having misinterpreted things. The incident could be just one part of a bigger problem, or it could be nothing at all. Getting the full story allows you to better handle the situation fairly and more effectively.
Speak with the instigator.
Once you do know who is responsible for spready rumours and gossip, have a private one-on-one conversation with them. It can be frustrating to deal with an employee who acts in such unprofessional ways, but it’s important to keep your cool and treat them with respect, even if they haven’t shown it to all their co-workers. Explain to them why this kind of behaviour won’t be tolerated in the workplace and how they are expected to act more professionally going forward. This isn’t an opportunity to scold or downgrade, but to educate them on how to be a better co-worker. Give them the opportunity to prove they can be better.
Address the problem with the whole team.
Of course, the person spreading thee gossip is not the only party in this whole thing. A manager should address these problems to the whole office as a way of getting clear of it. For the people who heard the gossip and passed it on, they need to know that is being part of the problem. For those who heard the gossip and dismissed it, they need to know the office is taking a stance on this issue. And to the target of the gossip, they need to be reassured the office is a safe place for them. You don’t need details and you don’t need to single anyone out, just address the issue together so you can all help solve it together.
Don’t villainize people.
Resolving this issue mean returning the workplace into a place of respect and collaboration, and while there may very well be people who are at fault, treating them and differently goes against the whole purpose of intervening. Yes, they acted in a way they shouldn’t have, but if there is an open dialogue and they are aware of their mistake, they should be allowed to go about their work without being regarded as the “bad guy”. This can lead to ostracizing and further personnel problems. Once the problem is addressed, the hope is that everything can go back to normal, unharmed by the incident.
Address divisions before they grow.
With these kinds of personal attacks within a workplace, there is always the threat of relationships souring and even becoming combative in some cases. Regardless of where the blame lies, these types of divisions between co-workers need to be dealt with before they become too serious. It might sound dramatic, but it’s very possible for factions to form and before you know it, your workforce is divided. If you see these divisions happening, address it immediately. Have a meeting with the parties involved and come to some resolution. Afterwards, don’t avoid situations in which the involved individuals would be working together. If anything, you should encourage collaboration between them as a way of moving passed things in a professional way.