Tag gossip

Tag gossip

No One Can Do Everything, But Everyone Can Do Something

I am  working on an investigation right now that involves a person in a position of power over minors. This person decided to send text messages to a variety of staff that were sexual in nature. He would ask staff about sex with their girlfriends, their underwear and their genitals. That sounds bad enough doesn’t it? Well, it gets worse. He did this for over 9 yearsworse still, a number of people knew about it and did nothing. The list of those in the know of at least a piece of information include parents, supervisors and finally HR. As soon as HR became aware, they initiated talks with legal and ultimately an investigation. The good news? He was removed from the workplace. At least there was an appropriate response down the road – but why so much road?

Often we see things that are not right in the workplace and we let psychology take over. We begin minimizing and rationalizing and looking the other way. We do not want to be involved, so we do not get involved. We want to normalize the situation, so we act as if nothing happened. We think that we can’t make effective change, we can’t make a difference, so we don’t. That is how these things develop – that is how this is allowed to happen at work.

If we asked 100 people if this should happen at work, 100 would respond with a resounding “NO WAY”. Yet, it happens all too often and in this case was allowed to continue for 9 years!

Maybe it’s time for us all to start taking a stand or two – to start putting ourselves in others’ shoes and  wondering how what we are pretending not to see or hear may be impacting someone else. Maybe it’s finally time to stop accepting and allowing behaviour in the workplace that is reprehensible! I am not suggesting that we can individually do everything but I am certainly suggesting that we all have a responsibility to do something!

The Lasting Impact of Workplace Gossip

In the last few months I have had the opportunity to meet with hundreds of staff members in various organizations across the land in an effort to assess the current health of their workplace. I am called in with a team of associates to get to the bottom of issues in the workplace because things are not running well and the leadership wants to turn the ship around before it is too late. I love these jobs because I get some real insight into the relationships we have at work and our tendencies with respect to conflict.

One of the most common issues I have found relates to gossip. Over 90% of all respondents answer that there is gossip at work. Less than 10% say that they participate. I’m no mathematician, but those ratios seem very unlikely. As I think about the issue, I am led to  wonder, why the disparity? Some of my theories are that the people know that they should not be gossiping so they say they do not participate, or that some think that listening to gossip is not participating. I have even had people tell me that it is not gossip if it is true – which is simply not true!

In any event, the fact is that gossip in the workplace is hardly ever a force for positive change – and that it must be meaningfully reduced in order to help steer a clear course to workplace happiness. The “how to” is some of the most challenging and rewarding work we have here at Hill Advisory Services!

What are your thoughts on workplace gossip? I would love to hear them!