Stop the Rumour Mill Before It Starts
Around the water cooler, the rumour mill begins:
“I heard they are restructuring.”
“I wouldn’t doubt it – probably why they brought in those consultants.”
“I wonder how many people will lose their jobs and if they will do it before or after the holiday.”
“Maybe they will shut down the entire office.”
The above conversation between Paul from procurement, Amy from accounting, and Helen from human resources is typical of how the rumour mill begins.
The rumour mill is not a good thing.
Rumours, gossip and innuendo that circulate among employees are destructive, they waste time, cripple morale and create anxiety. If your organization doesn’t communicate openly in times of change, you can bet the rumour mill will run wild.
Too many organizations fail to communicate proactively when it comes to change. The hesitation comes from a misguided idea that it is better to wait – that employees don’t need to know what is going on until all of the decisions have been made and it is time to implement the change. Often, leaders mistakenly believe that they need to have all of the answers before letting employees know what is going on.
This is the wrong approach.
What organizations fail to realize is that not communicating is also sending a message:
- You don’t trust your employees
- You have something to hide
- You have bad news
Stop the Rumour Mill Before it Starts
Here are three tips for stopping the rumour mill:
- Be authentic – Straightforward, clear and authentic communication is critical to establishing trust. Remember you are talking to your people who are smart (that is why you hired them!) and your most valuable resource. Your employees can see right through messages that are vague, evasive or that don’t sound genuine. Speak from the heart and then make sure that you reinforce what you say with your actions.
- Be transparent – In a digital age where finding and sharing information incredibly easy, don’t think you can hide. Being open and transparent not only kills the rumour mill, it helps employees feel involved and valued.
- Communicate early and often – There is no such thing as communicating too much or too often — even if you don’t have all the answers. “I don’t know, but as soon as I find out that information, I will tell you” — is an answer. Waiting until you know everything (is that even possible??!!) will only create an information vacuum which rumour mills love to fill!
If rumours are dragging your organization down, give us a call – we can help!