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Dealing with workplace gossip as a manager can feel (and be challenging) if you haven’t dealt with it before. In this article, I’m going to share the top 5 tips for how to handle gossip in the workplace as a manager.
Quick tip: If you just started your management role, don’t forget to check out my LinkedIn Learning Course, Skills for your first 90 days as a manager.
As a manager, one skill you need to master is conflict resolution. Why? Because when it comes to addressing workplace gossip with your entire team, you should be able to do so with confidence and authority. You also need to be comfortable with responding to rejections, inappropriate behavior, or staff not cooperating.
Gossip can quickly create a toxic work culture, enforce workplace bullying, create tension company-wide, and reduce productivity. During my career, I’ve always said that there is no such thing as positive gossip. No matter what, it doesn’t belong in the workplace.
The top 5 tips for how to handle gossip in the workplace as a manager is.
Keep reading for details and actionable steps on how to implement each strategy.
Your teams’ actions are a direct reflection of the expectations you’ve set (or failed to set). It is best to set up rules and expectations that outline what behaviors are and are not accepted on your team.
Discussing topics such as appropriate language, procedures for addressing conflict and misunderstandings, inappropriate work conversations, and consequences are key to establishing meaningful expectations.
To set expectations regarding the workplace, you can gather your team and use the following formula.
Need an example? You can share the following sentiment.
“I aim to foster a team culture that allows you to thrive personally and professionally. This means I’m counting on you to empower, uplift, and motivate each other. This includes practicing open communication, showing grace, and being patient with each other.
I encourage you to avoid participating in gossip, sabotaging your team members, and harboring resentment. Everyone is doing the best they can and we should recognize that effort in each other.
If you have problems, I want you to talk them out with respect and kindness. If you are uncomfortable with initiating the conversation, reach out to me and I’m happy to facilitate.”
I’ve had conversations like these over the years with toxic teams that I have inherited. I’ve been told that my transparency and honesty encouraged the entire team to do better and take positive action.
When it comes to how to handle gossip in the workplace as a manager, you need to be a shining example of what you want to see from your employees.
This means you do not (for any reason) participate in office gossip. Even if it’s between you and another manager. Part of being an influential manager is leading with integrity. You want to do the right thing at all times even when you don’t think your employees are watching.
Word travels quickly in the workplace and if any of your employees see or hear about you participating in gossip or poor behavior, the trust they had in you will quickly disappear. Your team will no longer take you seriously and will begin participating in the same destructive behavior.
When you hear gossip taking place in the workplace, you need to address it immediately. Do not let this situation linger or fester. Remind your employees of your expectations, agreements, and standards that were previously discussed.
This is also a great opportunity to allow them to share what is going on in their world and how you can help. Ask questions like, “Is there something you’re frustrated about?” and “Can we have this conversation with the person you’re discussing to help dissolve frustrations or animosity?” These questions can start a conversation and help you get down to the true cause of the problem. It also gives you an opportunity to demonstrate what behavior is and isn’t appropriate in the workplace.
Teams that thrive are the ones that have a solid foundation of trust and communication. If you want to prevent misunderstandings and rumors, you should encourage your team to communicate openly and honestly with each other.
Handling gossip in the workplace as a manager means encouraging your employees to treat each other with kindness and respect. Creating a culture of open communication will help your team feel comfortable with addressing issues with each other in a respectful manner.
No one wants or deserves to work in a toxic work environment. As a manager, you should actively work towards promoting, encouraging, and fostering a positive workplace experience for your employees.
Teaching your team how to work together, resolve conflict, show each other grace, and celebrate wins together are all ways to build a positive workplace as a manager.
At the end of the day, managing workplace gossip is not easy. As a manager, you will need to be intentional, pay attention to signs and acts of gossip, and be willing to confront them. Hold yourself to a high standard by demonstrating how you want your team to treat each other. Also, remember to show yourself grace throughout this process.
Everyone will make mistakes and slip up periodically. The important part is to nip it in the bud as soon as possible. You and your team are responsible for fostering a happy, healthy, and emotionally safe work environment.
I know you can do it! I believe in you!
Cheers to your success!