Monday, September 10, 2007

Office Gossip: Defining the Problem

It's gossip week here at Surviving the Workday. I'm always a little skeptical when I hear about the horrors of office gossip because I find some of what's labeled as "gossip" to be useful information. Not always believable, mind you, but helpful in terms of knowing what's going on in the office.

In Office Gossip Has Never Traveled Faster, we learn that gossip has two varieties:

Gossip generally takes two forms, either rumors about company changes, such as mergers, layoffs, managerial promotions or staffing changes, and personal gossip about specific employees: who is doing well, having an affair or grappling with personal problems. Because people spend more of their waking hours today at work than with their families, offices are rife with gossip — and both kinds of rumormongering can be detrimental to the workplace.

I'm not so sure that rumors about company changes are gossip. I think it's information-sharing and, as far as I can tell, it's networking. One of the issues that fuels this sort of "gossip" is bad communication from management. If you are a manager and want to quell gossip about mergers, layoffs, promotions, or staffing changes, then you need to communicate to your employees. They are "gossiping" because you are not communicating well.