The Only Good Drama is Best Watched With Popcorn and a Cozy Blanket

Gossip, negativity, or — worst case — intentional efforts to undermine another team member can be harmful, not just on a personnel level, but may have negative impacts on your business success.

What Do You Do When it Creeps into the Office?

  • It can decrease productivity.
  • It can increase anxiety and tension.
  • It can cause people to break into ‘teams’ which can turn the focus away from work.
  • It can result in good staff leaving.

All these things combined can create an environment that isn’t welcoming for clients, and that may have a negative impact on customer experience – and the bottom line.

How Can You Handle Gossip?

  • Start by being a good role model. Don’t engage in gossip. If someone tries to involve you in this type of conversation, walk away or change the subject.
  • Have an open discussion about it with your staff and let it be known that continued gossip won’t be tolerated. Instead encourage “positive gossip” – celebrations of wins and happy events in each other’s lives.
  • If necessary have a one-on-one conversation with the perpetrators. Be prepared to provide examples of the behavior. Be tactful and kind in these conversations, and don’t lay blame. Establish expectations and consequences.

How Can You Improve a Negative Attitude?

  • First, determine if there’s an underlying cause. Did a recent change in process, assignments or staff lead to hurt feelings? Or is something going on at home?
  • Be open. Ask questions, and offer honest answers. If the cause is work-related, establish expectations to see a positive change. If it’s based on a personal issue, offer support and resources (time off, or suggest professional advice).
  • Be up front that an unchecked negative attitude may lead to consequences, especially if it begins to affect other employees or clients.

How Can You Manage a Conflict Between Staff?

  • Understanding the basis of the conflict is key to finding a solution. Determine whether it involves harassment or discrimination that could be an EEOC issue.
  • If a specific event triggered the current situation, try to talk it out. Listen to both parties, and don’t take sides. The truth is usually somewhere in the middle.
  • Encourage the employees to work it out themselves. Provide guidance on how they might find common ground.
  • Determine whether the issue is something that can be corrected. If it doesn’t appear the situation can be resolved, don’t ignore it. Let everyone know they will be held accountable for their behavior. They don’t have to be best friends, but they do have to be respectful and not interfere with the work environment.

Managing people can be hard, especially in a small company or team environment. People are individuals with different motivations, experiences and quirks. Finding a way to support each other as unique humans, for the betterment of the team, makes growing and maintaining a successful business much easier.

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