Lead by example One of the best ways to deal with gossip as a manager is to be a positive role model. Never spread rumors and avoid criticizing your superiors in front of staff members. Managers who consistently demonstrate integrity will inspire their employees as well. Being a new manager can be difficult because it often involves getting into situations that are outside your comfort zone, such as handling negative office gossip.
Your first action should be to stop negative gossip on a personal level by directly addressing key gossip one-on-one. In this way, gossip falls into the same type of discouraging behavior as intimidation, rudeness and harassment. This can be difficult to do if you find yourself in a situation where workplace gossip has been allowed to be generated unrestrained. Positive gossip can also be about individual employees, such as sharing actions in which employees did their best to help a customer or communicating (at the level of the entire department or even the company) when an employee comes up with a phenomenal product or product improvement idea that results in a patent.
New managers must act quickly; unless it stops, widespread negative gossip can be like a disease that spreads and wreaks havoc across an entire department (and even the entire company). This can be achieved by including “gossip” as a topic for discussion at a staff meeting and helping the team understand the differences between negative and positive gossip and the ramifications of each of them. Employees should understand that even private messages can be used as evidence in a harassment investigation if an employee shows them to a manager. Doing so is usually not effective because it doesn't address specific offenders and often causes good employees to shake their heads and wonder why the management team is conflict-averse.
If toxic gossip isn't addressed, it can cause serious and even permanent damage to your workplace culture. Some gossip arises because employees feel anxious and feel that they have no other resources other than speculation. Good employers train both managers and employees on how to respond when faced with the spread of harmful gossip or rumors. Dealing directly and quickly with bullies, meeting with your staff, and encouraging positive gossip (not negative ones) can help change things.
The main thing that differentiates gossip from these other forms of communication is that it makes other employees feel unwelcome, alienated, attacked, or with the goal of damaging their reputation. But if the rumors relate more to the company's management or to things such as hiring decisions, new policies, or potential layoffs, the responsibility for the rumors may ultimately fall on the company's leaders. The best managers know how to differentiate harmful gossip from the most innocuous forms of jokes in the workplace, and they strive to root out the underlying causes of gossip in order to eliminate it completely.