Earlier this week on Contagious Commentary, I shared 3 Ways to Buck the System and Still Keep Your Job. One of those ways had to do with filling in the blanks so you don’t create the need for gossip and well, there’s more to the story.
If there are big changes going on in your organization and you fail to fill in the blanks or communicate with team members, you are creating an environment ripe for gossip. It’s because of how most of those team members were conditioned to address situations with missing information. Adults need answers and most adults consider themselves to be pretty smart so when they’re faced with something they don’t know, they whip out their degree from MSU and fill in their own blanks. However, take a look at what MSU really stands for: Making Stuff Up!
It’s true. We make stuff up. The news does it. Our leaders do it. Our employees do it. Some call is speculation. Some call it certainty and the degree of difference is based on the answerer’s self-esteem. How much do they believe they have the right answer? Notice, that belief may or may not have anything to do with the truth. But, once they BELIEVE they have the right answer, they spread the information in an effort to help others and that is what creates gossip.
Stop gossip by over-communicating. Provide some contagious communication that spreads. Tell them what they need to know to the point that they start saying “yah, yah, we know. We heard you. We get it already. Enough.” Then tell them again. Make sure employees have the right information, have a minimum of empty blanks, and have very little on which to speculate. This will curb the enthusiasm with which they make stuff up to fill in the answers they feel they don’t have.