By Rose O. Sherman, EdD, RN, NEA-BC, FAAN
A manager recently told me that staff commented about the high level of gossip in the unit on a recent workplace assessment. She wanted some concrete rules about what constitutes gossip and when/how she should intervene as the leader. This was an excellent question because HR experts often disagree about when lines are crossed. As leaders, we understand that harmful or malicious gossip is like a virus that can take over and destroy a healthy work environment.
TheSociety for Human Resource Managementwarns employers that the courts may not be on their side if they are overly prescriptive in definitions of gossip. Employees have the right to talk about (and even complain about) their wages, hours, and working conditions. From this perspective, discussion about favoritism in assignments or whether some staff is paid more than others would not necessarily be seen as malicious gossip. SHRM also advises that there will always be some staff speculation about the boss (unless specifically designed to undermine your credibility) that the courts would probably not see as crossing a line.
What does clearly cross a line is gossip that is not work-related, highly personal, and targeted leading to a loss of psychological safety and feelings of harassment. SHRM recommends that unit policies on gossip be included in a broader initiative addressing whatever you want to call the behavior—whether bullying or just unprofessional conduct. Some guidance from experts includes the following:
- Deal directly with the major perpetrators –I once observed a manager who sent out an email to all her staff advising them that gossip would not be tolerated. The problem with this approach is that you don’t get to the root of the problem – the unit perpetrators. Objectively, leaders should be direct with staff who demonstrate negative gossip behaviors. Tell them that this is what I see and hear – here is why I am concerned. Ask for their reaction to what you are saying. They may become defensive and tell you that everyone does it. Acknowledge that it has become a widespread problem, and that is why you are having this conversation. Then let them know that you need them to stop doing this because it creates a hostile work environment that could even result in patient safety issues when you do. Seek a commitment that they will not do this at work, reassuring them that they are very valued employees. Many nurses who engage in these behaviors have low self-esteem and use negative gossip to gain attention or create me versus them culture, so offer positive reinforcement when you see change.
- 在员工会议上介绍八卦主题 -把负面八卦的主题放在会议议程上。提醒员工，负面八卦对每个人的成功都反而违反了。通过询问您的团队给出他们所观察到的两种八卦的例子，将其与积极的八卦区分开来。问它是如何让他们感受到的。让他们知道你相信负面八卦已经失控了这个单位，你打算在团队中促进不同类型的文化。有些经理建立了一个Gossip Fine for Charity计划使员工能够呼出将导致罚款的行为。
- Replace negative gossip with positive gossip –You will never entirely get rid of gossip, so why not replace the negative with the positive. Let people know that they can and should gossip – about the good things. Positive gossip is uplifting.
- Don’t gossip yourself –工作人员将向您展示绘制方式。这意味着您不会八卦八卦，也不是参加负面八卦会话。如果你有一个倾向，八卦 - 努力停止这样做。与其他工作人员分享有关员工的负面信息，可以对士气产生毁灭性的影响。与员工保持沟通线路，可以帮助缓解用于在缺乏信息时填补空白的负面闲话。当你看到消极的八卦时 - 通过告诉工作人员，他们刚才所说的是不合适的，或者其他个人需要出席。
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