Skillset New Zealand Blog

Ideas to help your team develop personally and professionally.

Who says gossip has to be unpleasant?

I've been gossiping for years and see it as an important part of my leadership role.

Think of gossip as a valuable tool for building a healthy culture in your team. It's a way of communicating your values - what you admire and think worthy of mentioning.

So someone in the team has been putting in extra effort lately and another earned an appreciative note from a customer? Maybe someone else succeeded with a project despite many setbacks. They sound like gossip-worthy topics. Work them into a conversation with others in the team. Maybe send an email to your boss, copying in the employee.

Rules for leaders who gossip

1. Make it positive - no exceptions

Imagine that the person you are talking about will hear what you are saying, because she will.

2. Ensure that the gossip is always consistent with team values

Look for examples of dedication, success or help for others, not creative ways to get around head office rules.

3. Gossip about effort, not talents

It's a vital distinction. If you praise fixed traits such as talents or intelligence, you will do harm.

Praising traits encourages your team members to adopt a fixed mindset - the belief that people are either talented or intelligent, or not.

Using your gossip to recognise team members' hard work, determination or resilience creates a healthy growth mindset throughout the team. Hard work, determination and resilience are behaviours, so within everyone's control.

4. Respect privacy

As a leader you hear private stuff. You might mention your concern for someone who is sick, but never what the sickness is, unless the team member has been talking openly about it.

5. Make it low-key

Just natural conversation, not gushy.

Why gossip when you could just go to the achiever and say well done?

Good point. Treat gossip as an extra and informal way of communicating.

If it's big, always go to the team member first. If it's really big, announce it to the whole team as well.

About Ralph Brown

ralph brown blog3

Ralph is our founder and managing director. He has a background in psychology, television journalism and business.

Ralph's passions are psychology and writing. He leads workshops on both and speaks to conferences on the psychology of thriving at work.

In 2011  Professional Speakers Australia awarded him its top speaking accreditation, the CSP.

He has written six books and more than a hundred articles on psychology and writing. International research journals have published his articles reviewing the research on resilience.

Ralph's enjoys trips to France. He lives in rural Canterbury.

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