Ask Amy – Practical Advice for Supervisors: What Should I Do About Office Gossip that is Getting Out of Control?Share
A message from Amy Bosley, Vice President of Organizational Development and Human Resources
Oh office gossip … one of my favorite HR topics. This is a great first question from our supervisors for my new “Ask Amy” column, designed to provide you with guidance to successfully navigate opportunities and challenges in your daily work as a supervisor.
As actor and author Will Rogers once said, “Rumor travels faster, but it don’t stay put as long as truth.” And yes, rumors certainly travel fast, especially in the workplace. I’m sure you’ve experienced it.
Negativity caused by gossip can fill our work environment with tension and conflict, making it bad for everyone. Workplace gossip can be destructive, not just to the individual who is the target, but also to the department and the organization. And here at Valencia, it goes against our value to create a caring, inclusive and safe environment that inspires all people to achieve their goals, share successes and encourage others.
So, what do you do as a supervisor if your employees are gossiping and it’s getting out of control? Here are some steps that I suggest:
1. Determine whether the gossip is trivial or serious and work to identify the root cause. Most gossip is caused by lack of information, so address the issue and provide accurate information to help your team “fill in the gaps” that may be causing the need for gossip.
2. Clear up any resentment and misunderstandings. Something may have happened and your staff may not know why. Lacking details, people simply gossip about the possible reasons or causes which are unknown. Focus on the misinformation rather than the motives and provide details where possible.
3. Pay close attention to your own role in the situation. A person who passes on gossip or rumors becomes just as guilty as the one who started it. The stories often get embellished with extra juicy bits and innuendos as they’re passed on. This occurs whether you are aware of it or not. Passive involvement is real, and even if you don’t respond or partake in the gossip, this can still be regarded as you condoning the chatter. Steer the conversation to factual, work-related topics and remain positive. Seek clarification of the facts and follow up with your team.
The way that you manage gossip can define the culture and atmosphere of your team and their performance. View gossip as a sign that your support or understanding is needed as you work to foster a supportive and inclusive environment.
For additional support and guidance, our Organizational Development and Human Resources team can help. Please contact, your campus human resources director:
Ruth Ridore, extension 2760
Lisandra “Liz” Suarez, extension 4710
Becky Gallup, extension 5124
“Ask Amy,” is designed to provide supervisors with guidance to successfully navigate opportunities and challenges in your daily work, as you create a culture for employee success within your teams. Each month, I, along with featured guest contributors, will address a question and offer practical solutions from which all supervisors can benefit.
If you would like to ask a question, simply email me with “Ask Amy” in the subject line. Submissions will be included anonymous in the Supervisor Segment and The Grove, and will be addressed monthly as they are received.
*Recommendations in this column are general examples and may not apply in all instances.