Yes. Absolutely. Unequivocally. Yes.
Let that sink in for a minute.
Company gossips can serve to inspire. They can motivate. They can bring positivity and connection and trust and respect to a company.
I know. I’ve seen it happen.
And, you can see it happen in your own company with a couple of simple steps.
- Point them in the right direction. Point them to see the all the accomplishments they deliver every day to each other and to their customers. (Note: yes, the customers are theirs.) The problem with gossips is not the whispers and emails they send. The problem is the content of their messages and their ripples of distrust and disconnection. Pretty soon, divided is the word that best describes your team. Disconnected is the word that best describes their customer relationship. Instead, point them in the right direction. Point them to the light. Point them to see the accomplishments in themselves and their colleagues. Then their messages will serve to inspire.
- Reward them. That’s right. Reward the right behavior. Reward them for sharing news with you of success and accomplishments, theirs or others.
- Celebrate the news. Remember the dread you had with meetings that always included “It’s come to my attention ….” And, it’s followed with some inane reminder of violations of company policy. Change the content of that section of your meeting. Use the same introduction. Just include accomplishments of the team members that have been shared in private with you. You’ll celebrate that news with everyone.
- Make it transparent, open-source. As the leader, set the tone and share your snitches of everyone’s success with everyone. Then open the floor of the meeting to others doing the same. It will take some encouragement.
But, once started, it turns into a tidal wave.
I’m not talking out of my hat, here. I implemented all of these steps and the result was a monthly feeding frenzy of positivity and support and recognition by peers, leaders, followers, co-leaders.
That feeding frenzy was how we ended our company meetings.
An agenda would be prepared before the start of each meeting. One of the agenda items would be … company snitches. At the appointed time in the meeting, I’d start sharing a few such snitches or gossip items. I’d have these prepared over the month from my observation or from others in the company.
Inevitably, everyone would know who snitched on who. And that was the cool part.
We’re a small company. Everyone knew. The snitchee knew the snitcher. And, vice versa. Everyone else knew, too, by the smiles and laughter shared in the meeting.
Inevitably, more snitches would spill forth, spontaneously. One would inspire another. Pretty soon, we had to go around the room 2 or 3 times. Always this section of the meeting exceeded its time limit. And, the euphoria and energy and enthusiasm exceeded the meeting into the day and the week.
Now, this didn’t happen immediately. It’s a change in habits, thinking, behaviors, meeting agendas. It requires trust. And, that requires tests to confirm it’s genuine.
But, once begun, it’s like a snowball rolling downhill … it gathers its own momentum and grows bigger and stronger, every time.
We have the choice of how and with whom we spend our day. Gossip and snitching are just the normal activities of our nature as social beings. Our choice is their content.
And, your choice as a leader is do you encourage, support, reward and celebrate the strengths of your team? Do you inspire your team? Company gossips can help you reinforce that message and inspire your team.