Show me a dysfunctional workplace where employees don’t like each other and I will show you a department, a business or an organization that has a problem with gossip.
Gossip is insidious, destructive and hateful. It breeds dishonesty, distrust and jealousy. Workplace violence, harassment and theft sometimes have gossip at their root.
This is not a new issue. About 900 years before Christ, the Book of Proverbs was written and compiled. In it, there are several references to problems related to gossip—including Proverbs 26:20. “Without wood a fire goes out; without a gossip a quarrel dies down.”
I had the opportunity to observe two distinctly different workplaces. In one, a continuous supply of wood stoked the fire and gossip burned out of control. There was rampant distrust, deceptive motives, petty jealousies and hidden agendas. Not surprisingly, there was also an enormous amount of employee turnover.
In the other, there was never a hint of gossip. Employees liked, helped and supported one another. There was a genuine spirit of teamwork. Successes were celebrated by all. And, again not surprisingly, there was almost no turnover.
What made the two workplaces so entirely different? I boiled it down to the character of the two people charged with leading. One leader was dishonest, manipulative and, in fact, a gossip. The other was trustworthy, dependable, considerate and kind. They managed and led in the same way they thought and lived. Everything they did on the job—hiring, firing, coaching, teaching, leading—was a mirror image to the personal character each of them had.
Business owners and senior managers have choices to make if they know or suspect that gossip lives in their workplaces and jobsites. They can ignore it and laugh it off as things people just do. Or they can view it as an intolerable activity—a cancer that will not and cannot be allowed—and take swift, strong steps to bring it to an end.