Bad leaders promote gossip at the expense of profits | Page 2 | Sunday Observer

Bad leaders promote gossip at the expense of profits

12 September, 2021

Workplace jealousy and gossiping costs business organisations a colossal amount of money and the reason why it’s not considered a critical issue is that there is ambiguity around how to calculate the loss. This is a major issue in local companies.

As the top most leader or leadership team member, if you accept it, promote it, tolerate it or ignore it - by design or by default you are actually making the organisation fragmented.

The collaboration, coordination and cohabitation needed for organisational synergy then becomes paralysed. It ruins productivity, teamwork and creates great anxiety among managers.

Jealousy in the workplace can be a damaging toxin, breeding resentment, unhealthy competition, and driving down office morale. Jealous coworkers aren’t always forthright about their envious feelings; sometimes jealousy manifests itself in the form of rumours, sarcasm, and exclusive work environments.

If gossip is common in a workplace, it can negatively impact company culture. The mood and tone of gossip can cause an attitude shift that may make a company feel less harmonious. Conflicts including arguments and even physical altercations may erupt between the subjects of gossip and the people spreading the rumours.

This can create turmoil within the organisation that will even impact the bottom line. Managers who gossip due to envy against people who really produce results are likely not working productively. They are interested in a rumour being circulated and may be distracted from their work and have trouble focusing on important tasks that create business value.

Don’t be a breeder

Drafting policies that specifically forbid employees from gossiping about one another and encouraging positive communications can be helpful. Making sure that managers and supervisors act as role models and don’t feed into gossip is also an important step in preventing gossip.

You know who they are -- most likely disgruntled workers who didn’t get something their way and failed to deliver, disagreed with a change of performance assessment and direction and are now holding grudges, or didn’t get that promotion they felt entitled to. This issue is bigger amongst female managers in the Sri Lankan context.

Traditional female leaders enjoy such nonsense without realising the damage to business. They believe that when such undercurrent is maintained you would get to know things you would otherwise not get.

Poor performers and disgruntled employees are quick to gossip, and even quicker to hammer fair leadership. Such people have an issue with performance being the only criteria to recognise people.

They try to charm you with tactics to win you as a fall back. Keep a close eye on them.They spread their tumour by enlisting others into their negative spin campaign. Work productivity goes down because people are emotionally caught up in the drama like teenage kids. Watch for hush-hush chatter around work stations of disgruntled employees where those infected by gossip will stop by to “get the latest,” thus wasting precious company time.

Zero tolerance policy

Enact ‘zero-tolerance’ policies on workplace gossip. Set an example. Be a good role model for others to follow and don’t engage in the gossip or indirectly promote by listening to them. There is a reason why they share gossip with you.

The people who listen to gossip will never be good leaders. Such leaders are weak leaders.

They are not confident of themselves. They depend on others for performance.

Be assertive, walk away, or change the subject when the gossip starts. The message you are communicating to others is that their behavior won’t be tolerated.

Encourage managers to bring any business related issue to the table and address the perpetrators.

This will take some courage, but stand up to the lead perpetrators and address them one-on-one. If you are the top most leaders or the owner of an organisation, meet with your team. Bring up the topic of gossip in an appropriate meeting to educate your team on its negative consequences – warn the worst of them.

Encourage open and positive talk. Think of examples where peers and bosses can communicate to each other what they feel proud about at work. An example would be an employee going above-and-beyond in embracing change and creating real value for a business. If the gossip is about a person’s job performance, it really is none of your business unless it affects your job performance too. Maintain ‘one organisation – one team’ and not two.

Ignore the gossiper

Gossip mongers thrive on attention and will prey on open and inviting ears.

Your course of action is to be direct and tell such people “if it is something relating to business, bring it up at the right forum openly”. When the gossiper hands off the juicy gossip baton to you, if you are a professional leader don’t take it. Instead, blame it.

It’s your reaction that will decide the fate of the gossip. Ask yourself why they come to you with gossip. The real issue may be you and not the gossiper. Deflect the negative gossip with the exact opposite, by saying something refreshingly positive that you perceive to be true and fair--the other side of the coin. A complimentary remark about the person being attacked will stop the gossiper on her or his tracks. By eliminating gossip, you will greatly improve time management in your organisation and promote growth. Dealing with gossip appropriately will help you establish yourself as a leader and foster a positive work environment for improved bottom-line.