Complaining and gossiping is a component of most working environments. It’s human nature to complain about challenges and there are moments in time when team members will participate in gossip sessions. As a leader, it’s important to understand that this type of behavior comes with the territory. Although it may be difficult to control these types of situations, as a leader, there is most certainly an opportunity to influence the outcome.
Complaining and gossiping at a high level
Before diving into the details of complaining and gossiping, lets cover a few high-level items to consider as a leader.
First: Your team will more than likely complain, gossip, or do both. Don’t try to control these situations. Teach your team how to turn this type of behavior into something that will produce a positive outcome.
Second: Your team will probably complain and gossip not only about one another, but also about you. Don’t take anything personally. By doing this, emotions become high and the situation quickly gets out of control.
Third: Be an example. As a leader, if you do not tolerate complaining or gossiping, then avoid doing either. It’s bad practice to ask your team one thing and turn around and do it yourself.
In a previous quick tip, we covered the importance of incorporating lessons learned into working processes. If a team member has a complaint, encourage them to bring the complaint to a lessons learned meeting. If a situation or project is stressful, sometimes allowing the team member to vent will help them find either closure or a solution to the complaint. Sometimes an opportunity to vent is exactly what the team or individual needs.
In most cases however, it’s important as a leader to encourage that proposed solutions accompany any complaint. This means that if a team member has a complaint, they should also have some ideas as to how to solve the issue. Work with your team on reviewing proposed solutions and settling on something to implement. Even if the proposal ultimately isn’t the perfect solution, the team will be working towards something that’ll help put the issue behind them.
When it comes to gossiping, there is simply no reason to tolerate this kind of behavior. If a team member is gossiping, bring it to their attention and remind them that this type of behavior is unprofessional. Do not succumb to gossip and if gossip is really a complaint in disguise, then we already know what to do in that type of a situation. Not only should leaders avoid gossiping, but they should also do everything they can to prevent drama such as this from poisoning a culture.
Both complaining and gossiping are going to happen in the workplace, however, there are clear and easy solutions for preventing both. Work hard as a leader to influence a positive, solutions-based outcome by providing access to sound leadership development opportunities.