I happened to stop at a sandwich shop the other day. It’s a great chain with really good sandwiches. As I walked in, I quickly realized that I was the only customer there. But it was after lunch, so I bet it was hoppin’ a bit earlier.
There were three young folks working: two guys making sandwiches and one girl at the register. The guys seemed like they were having a good day. The girl just looked at me funny. I gave my order for three sandwiches, and the guys jumped right on it. (No, they weren’t all for me…just two of them. OK, just one.) Once I paid, I noticed that a couple of firemen and a young girl were in line behind me ready to order.
As they placed their orders, one of the guys had to run to the back to get something, so the girl took his place. It was then that she began to complain! She grumbled about something the company wasn’t doing, and it was loud enough for the customers to hear.
You should know that this is one of my pet peeves! I can’t stand when team members complain with customers around. Push aside the fact that it’s a severe gossip issue, no customer wants to hear it. And every time it happens, all I can think about is what’s wrong with their leadership.
There are many reasons for gossip, like lack of character, integrity, etc. Gossip is a cancer and needs to be IMMEDIATELY cut out! But there’s one main reason that I have found that team members gossip—the feeling that leadership won’t listen to what’s going on.
At EntreLeadership, I get the opportunity to talk with both leaders and team members. When the discussion of gossip comes up, I dig really deep to find the root cause of it. Almost every time, the team members feel like they are trying to correct problems and nobody will give them the time of day. When this happens, they feel the need to tell someone else in order to be validated. They need to know that someone else understands the problem and the necessity to fix it.
This situation can be resolved pretty easily in most cases—TALK TO YOUR TEAM! You have to get in there and find out what’s going on. There is no leadership error that I hate more than a leader who won’t actually talk to their INDIVIDUAL team members and get a pulse. I capitalized “individual” because I know too many leaders who get a pulse from team members about OTHER team members. It is ridiculous and is another post some time.
“Well, I don’t want to talk to them because they’re just always so cynical!” Seriously? That’s your answer? Great job leader! You know, I once heard Jim Collins say that a cynic is nothing more than a passionate person who is tired of being let down. Why don’t you try getting out of yourself and discover the inner champion of your team member? Who knows? You might be impressed. Worst case, you find out they do suck, and you get rid of them. Most likely, I believe, it won’t be the issue. You’ll find that you’re the problem. OUCH!
The title Stop Talking! is for the team member who’s complaining, especially with the public within earshot. If that’s you, force a time with your leader to get them to listen. If they suck, and they can’t give you the time, go someplace where you can be a champion! Don’t stay and become a cynic!
Question: What do you think causes team members to talk like this?