How To Prune The Workplace Grapevine
Nothing spreads like news. Whether in the workforce, church, politics, or even in your own family, the speed in which news travels through the “grapevine” is something to marvel at. Even the latest in technology can’t seem to match the speed of the common grapevine.
And let’s leave the wonder at the speed alone. We all know that news, and especially hot gossip, is a cancer to every organization.
The grapevine is the conduit for false and damaging information to have a pulse in your workplace. So many people would rather get their news from this than other – reliable – sources, that there needs to be some everyday and long-term strategies to “prune the grapevine”.
Great leaders will use some of the following techniques to cut the gossip lifeline out:
- Make honest and reliable communication a core value – If it’s not a part of the DNA of the company, it will not manifest. Having a culture of communication will help push the negative news out of the system.
- Speak often – the more communication is given, the less likely that staff will retreat to the watering hole. Whether informally throughout the workplace or more formal, scheduled meetings, give your people a constant flow of information. People will only seek other sources to fill in the gaps of curiosity.
- Ask questions to flush out the truth – when a grapevine story is uncovered, you’ll need to ask questions and find out what’s making the rounds. Then, start to tell folks what the actual truth is – many times the gossip is a kernel of truth wrapped in a sensational story. By being the antidote to the falsities, you can help curb the news and supplant it through your people with the facts.
- Ask your people what they believe – one of the most amazing things you’ll discover is if you actually ask a person if they believe the story they’re telling, many will say they don’t. When you ask why they are giving a toehold to it, it is usually found that they hoped to believe the outrageousness of it, or they wanted to be a “go to” person with the juicy scoop. By asking questions, you get them to realize themselves that being part of the grapevine is not in anyone’s best interest.
- Don’t graft yourself in – as a leader if you partake in the storytelling circle, you automatically give the OK for it the thrive, and worse, you give instant credibility to the news. As stated before, ask questions and find out the truth. Don’t get caught up in the whirlwind of the wildfire.
- Bring it back to culture and values – at the end of the day, remind everyone what the organization stands for. If your values of Respect, Communication, Integrity, Honesty, or others are breached by the grapevine, then point it out to people. Encourage them to see how that measures up to the company philosophy. This will bring people to realize how their behaviors impact, for better of for worse, the company and it’s values. Respect can’t be given if someone is hurt by gossip. This is a long-term vision that should be the backbone of your leadership in keeping things aligned with your mission.
Prune the grapevine before it overgrows. Spread the fertilizer of good communication and watch your culture grow!!