elitefts™ Sunday edition

"Gossip Killer," Mini Meatheads and Christmas Guilt

Leadership Tip of the Week: The "Gossip Killer"

Drama in the workplace is almost always fueled by gossip...which is, in my opinion, the greatest enemy of productivity and positive employee culture. In my experience, I found that the conversations around the water cooler or in the employee lounge, to be more devastating to businesses than any changes in the competitive landscape. Negative perceptions are allowed to be formed and reputations are destroyed when gossip is allowed to go unchecked throughout an organization; however, handling gossip is easier said than done. As supervisors, we want to promote an environment that allows our employees to be honest and open with us; therefore, we can't afford to simply shut our doors to the staff member who wishes to talk to us about the behavior or performance of a co-worker. So how can we handle these situations so that both objectives are met in the same conversation? It is really quite easy.

When an employee enters your office to complain about a co-worker, make certain that you listen. Allow them to explain the circumstances...ask clarifying questions...but do not offer any opinions or judgments. When they are finished, look at them directly in the eyes and say, "This sounds like it has been a very hard situation for you...what was (fill in the name)'s response when you talked to them about this?" The response that you will get is priceless. Over 99 percent of the time, they have not talked to their co-worker about the issues that they have freely shared with you (nor did they ever think that they would EVER be expected to). You can then coach them through the process of having a productive conversation with their co-worker and why their relationship is important. Make certain that you set a follow up date with them to find out how it went.

There are two typical outcomes to this tactic:

  1. The employee will follow your direction, actually behave like an adult, and have a good conversation with his co-worker. Their relationship grows and the tension is all but eliminated. This must be met with high praise by you during your follow up meeting.
  2. They decide that the conversation is going to be too difficult and elect not to have it. Unless they have a very good reason for not going through with this, express your disappointment during the follow up conversation and reiterate your expectations regarding workplace gossip.

Word of Warning: This tactic should only be used when addressing issues regarding employee relationships and should not be used to address the hard issues such as sexual harassment, workplace safety, theft, fraud or any other serious infractions. These are and always will be the responsibility of the supervisor; however, when it comes to the trivial bull crap that constantly eats up our time, this practice works extremely well and I know that it will work for you.

Jump Ropes are not appropriate gifts for Mini Meatheads

A couple of weeks ago, a very well-meaning, yet ignorant, individual purchased jump ropes for my boys. They assumed that the ropes would provide a great way "to burn some energy" during the winter months. Well, I suppose that she was right. The jump ropes have, in fact, proved to be of a high entertainment value for my boys, but not in their practical application. We found the four-year old with his legs tied up trapped in his closet. We had to cut the jump rope to rescue him. There was also a very elaborate "pulley system" constructed in our laundry chute and just the other night, my wife was "clothes-lined" by a jump rope tied between the boys' bunk beds. When I suggested to them that they might want to try actually using the jump ropes the "proper" way, they looked at me like I was crazy and said, "But we ARE using them the right way!"

Welcome to my household. Raising five "mini meatheads" is a lot like living in a perpetual game of dodge ball. If you don't pay attention, the likelihood of you getting drilled in the ear by a football is extremely high. Between the nerf guns, paper airplanes, remote control cars and Airhog helicopters, you would think that my house would greatly benefit from an air traffic controller. However, we also have more fun that we should ever be allowed to have and whenever I think of my crazy family, it always brings a smile on my face. I'm certain that people think we are insane and they are probably right, but we are also extremely blessed.

All the same, pray for my wife...she's surrounded by meatheads.

Let go of the Christmas Guilt

As parents, we often spend the holiday season worrying about whether or not we've done enough for our children as far as gifts are concerned. If we feel that we've let them down in any way, the guilt can be paralyzing.

Please, for the love of God, let go of the guilt.

Give yourself to your children this holiday season. Give them the gift of a loving and engaged parent who wants to be a huge part of their lives. This is what they need more than another piece of plastic crap. This gift is something that will not be broken in two or three days, nor does it require batteries. Give yourself because in the end, that is all they really want.

Have a safe and happy holiday season.