Today's Veterinary Business

APR 2018

Today’s Veterinary Business provides information and resources designed to help veterinarians and office management improve the financial performance of their practices, allowing them to increase the level of patient care and client service.

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53 April/May 2018 • TODAYSVETERINARYBUSINESS.COM Leadership Statements like these are heard in workplaces everywhere, including at veterinary offices. The victims of gossip are managers, co-workers, clients and anyone else the gossiper runs across during his or her day. While gossip can contain kernels of truth, stories shared are often blown out of proportion or are sometimes completely false. When team members gossip and the manager doesn't effectively address the situation, the workplace quickly becomes toxic. Some managers don't address gossip because they turn a blind eye (or, more accurately, ear!) to what employees are doing. And unfortunately, sometimes the managers are active gossipers, too, which makes the situation worse. Unchecked gossip can lead to productivity and morale issues. Star employees might look for work at another practice, leading to costly turnover. Malicious gossip can lead to legal liability issues. So, how should workplace gossip be handled? Understand Why People Gossip Trying to pinpoint why gossip goes on in your workplace can be helpful. Do employees seek out details among themselves because they aren't provided with enough information about the work- place? If the gossip is largely about decisions made in the veterinary office, then being more transparent about what's going on can go a long way in quashing the gossip. Are there trust issues in the practice, especially between employees and managers? If em- ployees don't trust what managers say, they tend to rely upon one another to get the real story, and this easily lends itself to creating a gossip culture. Honest and open communi- cation is key, and it starts at the top. Certain employees gain a reputation as being someone in the know. If they enjoy being per- ceived as a central source of informa- tion, they will play the role to soak up attention. This creates a malig- nant cycle because, as the informa- tion-central employee is rewarded with attention, he will likely continue to provide even more gossip. So, what can you do? Once someone regularly engages in gos- sip, correcting the behavior can be challenging, but it can sometimes be addressed by helping the em- ployee receive attention in positive and productive ways. "Maria's skirt is awfully short, isn't it? And she sure doesn't have the figure to pull that off!" "You're not going to believe what I heard about our new client." "Did you hear who is getting divorced? You're not going to believe what happened!" "We're not getting bonuses this year because of what happened between Fred and Susan." "Did you hear why Martin got that raise? And did you hear how much it was?" By Kellie Olah, PHR, SHRM-CP Silence the rumor mill Workplace gossip can be harmful, so know how to control it. Put Policies in Place Like with any other human resourc- es issue, employee manuals should contain policies that address gossip, including what is prohibited and the consequences if someone acts in an inappropriate way. The policies should be highlighted during meetings in which the man- ual is discussed. Know the law when writing gossip policies. For example, for- bidding employees from discussing salaries might be tempting, but such a policy isn't legal. It's also important to differen- tiate between harmful gossip and normal workplace discussions. For example, someone might say: "Did you hear Sara's cat had six kittens last night? The cat is such a beautiful calico, so I'll bet the kittens are cute." Technically speaking, you could call this gossip, which can be defined as "casual or unconstrained conversa- tion or reports about other people, typically involving details that are not confirmed as being true." The employee is talking about Sara in a casual way, providing 1 2 3

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