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Ask Dave

No Gossip Allowed

Troy owns a small business that is based in Durham, NC. He has attended Dave's EntreLeadership Master Series class, and he wants to implement a "no gossip" policy at his company. Dave gives him a few pointers for getting the idea off the ground.

QUESTION: Troy is a small business owner in Durham, NC. He’s a veteran of Dave’s EntreLeadership Master Series course, and he wants to formally implement a “no gossip” policy at his company. Troy asks for some creative ways to implement this type of policy within a company that has numerous locations, and Dave is glad to help.

ANSWER: First, let’s define the policy and what it means. Gossip is when you have a problem, and you yap about it to someone who can’t help you fix it. The policy is pretty simple; you hand your negatives up, and your positives down and laterally. There’s no sense in talking to the receptionist about how stupid your sales manager is. You’d better go talk to the vice president of your company if your sales manager is stupid.

I tell my team all the time that they’re going to have problems. You’re going to have frustrations with people and projects, and you might even get mad at me. And that’s okay. It’s part of life, and I don’t mind all that. But you have one choice when you experience a problem, and that is to hand that negative up. When you don’t do that, we’ll sit down and talk to you about it one time. But if we ascertain that there is a pattern of you running around the company, running everybody down and backstabbing people, we’ll fire you. You’ll get a warning first, but after that we will fire you.

In your situation, I’d start at the home office and let it bleed out from there to the other locations. Let’s start with the head organization and the home office, getting things fixed there, and then you can go out and testify to the other branches what you did and how it has worked. Go over how you talk about unity when you hire people, and we need to do this because gossip is an enemy of unity. Of course, the worst kind of gossip is somebody who sits and runs their mouth about the people who pay them. That’s disloyal, and that’s a special kind of thief. I’ll fire that kind of person quicker than anybody.

That’s what I would do. And then, invariably what will happen is that someone, for some reason, won’t believe it. You’ll have to warn them, and then sometime in the next year you’ll have to fire somebody. And that’s when it becomes real. The rest of the team looks around and goes, “Oh, Troy was not kidding!”

Then, the team will start to respect the leadership and cleanliness of the environment, because people don’t like working in cesspools of gossip.