September 3, 2015
Talking behind others’ backs destroys organizations. Gossiping is a constant problem that almost every company has to deal with. The best way to handle situations like this is to understand the root of the problem. Most of the time, the issue occurs because people are too scared to speak directly to the source. As the leader, this can be frustrating.
Even when you tell your team that they can speak to you about anything, some still feel more comfortable to talk to everyone in your company about the problem except for you. While you can never prevent gossip from existing in your startup, you can take some measures to minimize it. Below, I’ll list 2 things you can do to sharply decrease employees talking behind your back. Both of these tips revolve around transparency, which is the number one killer of gossip. It’s funny too see how much gossip goes away about a problem when the leader shows all his or her cards.
1. Posting exactly what you’re going to get done everyday
In my startup, we run a task based organization. This means we don’t clock hours, and I don’t care how long someone has taken to complete something. All I care about is if the task was done or not. Even in a system like this, there still emerges a small sense of proving work ethic through time committed.
The problem with this mindset is it punishes people who are hyper productive. If you complete all of your tasks for the day, it’s not a big deal to leave before 5 or take a nap during work. Unfortunately, if your team sees the leader not working all the time, it’s possible that rumors will start emerging that the person is being lazy. To stop this dead in the face, post your tasks everyday so everyone on the team can see them. This way, there’s no uncertainty about what’s getting done. Everyone is forced to judge you on tangible tasks that you’re completing, so there’s no way people can argue about your effectiveness.
People who gossip love uncertainty, because they can make up their own truths to the person they gossip to.
2. Make your financials public
Salary is probably the most gossiped-about topic on in any company. This is especially true in a startup, where salaries are extremely low, and there are hardly any benefits. A rumor that commonly surfaces in these situations is that the people on the top of the organization are getting all the money and benefits, and everyone else is suffering. As the leader, this is the last thing you want your team to think about you.
To stop this dead in the face, as the CEO take the lowest salary. If you really want to shut people up, post your monthly personal finances on a board for everyone to see. I know this sounds drastic, but if you as the head of the company take the lowest salary then show everyone you can manage with that salary it’s a huge statement. It makes the rumors about you stop right where they started. Talking about sacrificing for your team is one thing, proving it in action is another.
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