Office politics, back-stabbing, talking behind someone’s back or however you define it, you don’t have to put up with bad behavior.
It starts with a no-gossip culture, which you carefully cultivate. Best practices are these:
- Talk about it with new hires. The new hire signs an “agreement to values” form.
- Managers speak to their people if needed. If they don’t stop they’re let go. “If you don’t confront, you condone.”
- Managers give this message: It starts with you. If you don’t gossip and you let it be known you don’t tolerate it, others won’t gossip around you.
- People call each other out with “You need to go to the source if you have a question.”
- From business consultant, John Bassler: The best antidote to gossip is a leader with a thick skin and a well-advertised tolerance for candid feedback.
- Make sure your employees get information from the source. That means regular meetings. Stand-up meetings or sit down meetings, every meeting needs an agenda and a time limit. It can be the same agenda every week but you need an agenda. People need to, and want to know, what to expect. Circulate notes and action items in a follow up email.
It all comes down to communication. If you’ve done the work styles instrument with me you know your communication style. Consider having your team do it.
To facilitate effective communication make up a nameplate for each person’s desk with the color of their communication style on it. A person with a red bar appreciates when others are direct and state the facts quickly. Blue enjoys having all the details and time to process them. Yellow is spontaneous and likes a personal connection. Green is a sensitive person who likes to be approached as courteously as possible. Greens tend to be compassionate and supportive.
Don’t tolerate gossip. Rarely does everyone in a company like each other but half the battle is in their communication.