Sunday, December 8, 2013

12.4 THE SKILLS YOU NEED TO BE A GREAT BOSS: Rumors in the Workplace

Difficult Management Situations at
It's difficult not to become involved in gossip at work. After all, people like gossip and interesting bits of information.  At work, however, this type of interaction is harmful and costly. It wastes time, damages reputations, promotes divisiveness, creates anxiety, and destroys morale.

People start and spread rumors to make sense of what's happening around us.  To understand what's going on, people talk to one-another.  And, together, they fill in the holes in the story with a little bit of fact – and a lot of guesswork.  This new story spreads, with bits and pieces added along the way, until you have an out-of-control rumor spreading throughout your company.

Rumors often grow because people like to be "in the know."  Knowledge is power, and that's why the people with the least amount of power in an organization can often be the ones to start and spread rumors.  It can make them feel important if they're seen to know things that others don't.  Insufficient knowledge or incomplete information is often to blame.

The best way to fight rumors is with good communication.  When you communicate well, your team knows what's happening, and they trust that you'll keep them informed.  Good communication within your team also means that you will become aware of any rumors that are starting, and you'll be able to address them quickly and effectively.

Preventing Rumors
Keep workers informed
Be open and honest
Establish transparency within your systems
Practice Management By Wandering Around
Let people know that rumors are unacceptable
Build a culture that promotes cooperation rather than competition
Managing Rumors
Deal with rumors immediately
Set a good example
Watch for patterns with rumors
Regularly audit your rumor behavior

Rumors at work aren't likely to disappear.  It's human nature to want to know what's happening around us.  When people don't have complete information, they may fill in the gaps with suppositions that may not be accurate.  Rumors are spread by people.  Stop rumors by talking about the negative effects of rumors and gossip.

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