Monica Wofford, CSP, is a professional speaker and CEO of Contagious Companies, a training and consulting firm that develops better leaders and trains managers how to become better leaders.

What to do if their office gossip conversation is about you.

Wow, now that turns up the heat. Not only might your behavior be bad for business or the team, but it might be creating gossip. That brings a whole new meaning to summer sizzle and unless you want to be fuel for the grapevine fire, heed these warnings about behavior that could get you talked about…in ways you’d prefer not to experience.

Taking Credit for Their Ideas

Very few will take credit for someone else’s ideas on purpose, but I suppose there are a few managers who do, because we hear this a lot from our corporate training and coaching participants. Initially, it happens innocently. A great idea is shared, yet the manager has to think about its viability. The manager then implements and moves on, forgetting to give credit back to the person who shared. Consider this an important internal client relations “to-do” and make an effort to take the credit off of you and give it back to them.

Thinking Too Long

This will especially annoy your top performers. If you are the manager or leader who thinks on an idea too long and never provides a clear answer, you might be the center of a not so nice conversation. Top performers create, enjoy, and are motivated by action. To become a better manager of top performers and stop this kind of office gossip, give them a decision in 48 hours. Even if the answer is no for now, or no all-together, knowing what they can act on next will keep them motivated and challenged to bring you a new solution.

Always Saying No

Office gossip is filled with tales of woe of the manager who always says no. While it’s good to give them an answer, if it’s “NO” all the time, every time, you will eventually train them to stop coming up with ideas. In other words, you train the initiative right out them.

Changing Your Mind All the Time

We joke that it is a woman’s prerogative to change her mind, but in these times, budgets, economic climate, and sometimes at the whim of the board or customer, managers can appear to change their mind on a dime all the time. They have to. Yet the employees who see this behavior don’t usually see the big picture and some of them crave stability, which this does not create. Either explain the big picture and why the decision had to be altered or stick with the 48 hour decision rule to give you time to check with all the parties involved before you give a definite answer on an employee request.

Acting Out when Under Stress

All managers experience stress and your personality will dictate how you react when stress is high. The challenge is your normal reaction to stress may not be the same as your employees’ reactions. When reactions are different, miscommunication ensues. Raise your awareness and explain why you shut down, are driven to perfection on this project, just shut that door abruptly, seem pessimistic, or are being unpredictable and emotional. Any of those reactions are normal to the four personalities with which we work. The understanding of WHY someone is acting that way is not so normal and without it, employees will take your behavior personally and make you out to be the “bad boss” everyone talks about.

The manager’s goal is life should not be to avoid office gossip, but rather to lead and develop the team while managing the business. In the same breath, no one wants to be the center of office gossip and being aware of and taking action on these behaviors will help you steer clear of the sudden hush in the hallway when you walk by.
I’m Monica Wofford and that’s your Monday Moment. Have a great week, an even better Monday, and of course, stay contagious!

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