Leaders focus finite resources onto specific actions and goals. When goals are difficult and resources are scarce (always!), there can be zero tolerance for noise.
What is noise? Anything that jeopardizes the efficiency of those scarce resources in accomplishing their objective. There is a long list of possibilities, but gossip is perhaps one of the most prevalent and – sadly – most tolerated.
Gossip is idle chatter. As harmless as it might seem, it typically has some or all of the following attributes:
- has a negative and conflict-ridden sentiment – often embarrassing, complaining, or inflammatory
- is the sharing of unsubstantiated information
- second-guesses past decisions
What may seem like harmless chatter will instead drive division, poor morale, undermining, and wastes energy.
There are some easy ways to get rid of enablers of this divisive behavior:
- Have idle time? Get busy with urgent and important business
- Have a concern? Go directly to the individual who has control
- Have bad news? Share it early and without sugar-coating
- Is there a communication vacuum? Fill it with positive discussion – regarding what is possible, what is controllable
- Is the discussion on a tangent? Bring it back to the goal and task at hand
Keep it simple. Lead your team to undivided attention on what really matters. Stay out of the slime.