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How do I Deal with a Staff Member Who Thrives on Gossip?

Question

I have been a pediatric nurse for a long time and I manage a children’s practice. I have excellent employees, but there is one who thrives on gossip. What can I do? I asked that person to be a leader, and to refuse to participate in any gossip she hears. My approach hasn’t worked, and I need your advice.

Answer

Here are my suggestions:

  • If your organization has standards of behavior, I would guess gossip does not fit in. When she indulges in gossip, point out her mistake. If her behavior continues, handle it like you would any performance counseling.
  • Have staff create a “What Is In/What Is Out” list. I would guess that gossip would be “Out.” Once again point out the problematic behavior and handle it as a performance issue.
  • Have those high, middle, and low performer conversations, and when you meet with this person, spotlight gossip. The conversations will move others to a higher level, so they won’t be swayed by the gossiper.
  • Finally, if this leader cannot stop gossiping after you have taken these steps, refer her to an employee assistance program.

Deal with this issue as a performance issue. And as with other performance issues that cannot be resolved, terminate the employee who refuses to change this behavior.