The Snitch

Just a little of everything HR

Making use of the rumour mill

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Office gossip is often something viewed upon as messy and pointless and can even jeopardize careers and destroy reputations. Efforts to curb gossips are obviously futile since it has become such an integral part of human nature… so we might as well try get something good out of this, right?

In an article by Financial Times, senior managers believe that informal channels and conversations in the workplace can be helpful to employers. Many have used the “gossip network” to test out staff reaction to potential proposals.

For instance,

The managing director of a Sydney-based recruitment agency recently grappled with a problem. He could not afford to award all employees a pay increase but was worried an alternative proposal could destroy morale. So he decided to start a rumour.

He told a trusted subordinate of his plan to award higher salaries to a few key staff, who would also have to take on greater responsibilities. As expected, news spread rapidly through the company and employees were surprisingly positive about the proposal. So he decided to press on with the new pay structure.

Grant Michelson, research director at Audencia Nantes Business School says, “It doesn’t mean you should take action on every bit of information you hear but if it’s from a reliable source, it is probably worth listening to.”

While it may be one thing for the people at the top to start a rumour , employees should be more discerning and careful about even thinking of spreading a rumour.

Stephen Viscusi, author of How to Bullet-Proof Your Job, believes the best strategy is to be friends with the office gossip.  “[The] trick is to absorb the information without repeating it, to appear to be above it even while you’re filing it away for future reference to use, if necessary, to bullet-proof your job”.

Office gossip material are most interesting, in spite of all the complications that comes along with it. Damned if you believe it, damned if you don’t. Still, how many of us here have avoided doing something “gossipable”, just to save face? I admit that I have. I can’t stand those wagging tongues, can you?

Via Financial Times

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Written by nasirah

January 16, 2009 at 1:52 pm

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