In any office setting we are familiar with the different personalities that arrive at the table and the one that can often cause some of the most damage to your culture is that of the office gossip. It’s important when you are trying to build an office culture that you stamp out any office negative gossip and fast.
Negative gossip can create issues relating to loss of productivity, morale, lack of employee engagement and can contribute toward turnover. In the extreme it can manifest into something more malicious and create liability with workplace bullying.
So how do we combat the “negative Nancy” in the workplace, maintain a great culture and most importantly build a strong team?
Address the person at the source of the concern. This is best to be carried out in a location where the conversation cannot be overhead by other ears and in a neutral location where all parties will feel safe. This may mean going out and grabbing a quick coffee. The purpose of the meeting is to try and assist the person in understanding the impact of their behaviour and the repercussions should it continue.
It may be that they are not even aware that their behaviour is negative. Studies have shown that the more we conceptualise negative thoughts and behaviours, the more that it materialises into the way in which we perceive and act in the world around us.
It is also important to address the team on a separate occasion as part of another meeting. This may be your weekly or monthly meeting and explain the differences between positive and negative gossip and the ramifications for the individual should the negative continue. It is important to ensure that this message is not sent via an email as the message is not as likely to be received or received well.
Encourage positive gossip such as sharing positive stories, achievements and success as they can be great in building rapport amongst team members and build a culture where people want to work.
There is the old saying that the “fish rots from the head”. Teams will look to their leader as a model for behaviour. Ensure that your leader is a strong and positive personality who has the ability to stamp out the first sight of negativity and get the positive thought train back on track.
Training is also a great tool for your team leaders to learn the art of dealing with conflict and managing the office negative gossip to ensure that the fire doesn’t have a chance to spread and the team can get back to the important task of improving the growth and profitability of the business.