Monthly Archives: August 2016

How to Tell an Employee to Stop Gossiping

Regardless of your industry or geography, people “talk”. Gossip happens. Gossip in the workplace can be damaging and when left unchecked, can erode an organization, break down teams and quickly diminish trust.  It can start simply as a joke or a snide remark. Surprisingly, when asked, many managers say that gossip is something that was left behind in high school. After 20 years working in various roles as a leader and trainer, I assure that it was not.

gossip

Dealing with workplace gossip and rumors can be challenging, but with some focused attention and a clear strategy, it is one that any leader can successfully tackle.

Sometimes, the hardest part in dealing with workplace gossip involves having that tricky conversation with the employee who is accused of gossiping or spreading rumors.

Every situation is unique … And here’s an example of a conversation that flowed well and worked for me in the past:

– “I wanted to meet with you today because I have been made aware that you’re participating in gossip (or spreading rumors). This type of behavior is disruptive.”

– “Without rehashing all the details, I want you to know that it isn’t acceptable. Gossip breaks down relationships and it builds up walls that make working together very difficult.  Gossip at work can make communication between team members so difficult. Sometimes impossible.”

– Ask, “Is there an underlying problem or issue between you and “Michael” that I can help you clear up so that we can put this behind us?”

You do want to allow the employee accused of gossiping time to share “their side” of the story in order to uncover any details that might help as you work to manage the situation and assist the employee to improve their work relationships.


This meeting doesn’t have to be long and drawn out.  In fact, don’t allow it to be.  Get straight to the point. Sometimes employees want to rehash every detail of what you heard, what you know, and what you think … Do NOT fall for that.

I generally deliver my message whether an employee “admits” to gossiping or not.  If they are adamant that they didn’t participate in gossip, I will hear them out and finish the short conversation anyway. I implore them to help me spread the word about the importance of building great relationships at work.

Dealing with workplace gossip can be tricky, but in order to keep employees focused on objectives and organizational goals, it cannot be ignored. 

Would you like to talk more about this topic in general, or do you have a particular tough situation that you’re dealing with?  Or maybe you would like to discuss ways to improve the atmosphere in your workplace to eliminate gossip all-together?  Contact your HR strategist, Niki Ramirez, and let’s get the conversation started.

riding spirit

 

About the author: Niki Ramirez is a seasoned business consultant and HR coach with a knack for engaging business leaders.  She has a successful track record partnering with a wide variety of organizations to analyze current human resources and business operations with the objective of designing cost-effective HR, training, and employee relations programs that help every organizations exceed their goals.
Maybe most importantly, Niki is the proud momma to three strikingly intelligent, gorgeous, funny kids.  She loves to horseback ride and get outside to hike and explore the world every spare minute that she has.

Quick Tips: Make your Next Meeting More Productive

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Did you know – there’s a #hashtag for that? #boringmeeting. You might be surprised what you find @Twitter. Employees aren’t exactly shy about voicing their opinions about your boring meetings publicly. Employees see meetings as boring so often that the BBC recently published an article about how to ensure that you look interested in meetings!

Bottom line: boring, unproductive meetings are a waste of everyone’s time.

As leaders, we are often tasked with hosting meetings and trainings. However, I have found that many people are not comfortable with facilitation and this has a negative effect on both morale and productivity.

During the past 24 years as a team leader and trainer, I’ve facilitated thousands of hours of meetings and trainings.  Of course, some sessions have obviously gone better than others. However, when I run an effective meeting, or facilitate a meaningful training, I know it, and the participants know it.

What can you do to almost guarantee a productive, energy-filled session for you and your attendees?  Read on:

  • Consider cancelling the meeting. No, really. Unless there is a compelling reason to get together and collaborate, consider alternatives to the standard meeting.
  • Give participants ample notice of the meeting as to arrange their schedule appropriately. Sometimes a last-minute meeting is unavoidable, but for the most part, plan a week or more in advance.
  • Have an agenda and send a copy to the participants 24 hours before your meeting/training.
  • Set aside 5 – 15 minutes in the beginning of each meeting to connect with attendees, either via introductions, an ice breaker or team building activity.
  • Remember that getting ready for your meeting may take as long as the meeting itself; 1 hour meeting = schedule 1 hour of prep time.
  • Generally, meetings should be used as a way for people to collaborate and solve problems.
  • Training sessions should be active and should address real workplace issues and improvement.
  • Allow people to get up and move around freely, and encourage doodling as well, as it may actually improve focus and retention of information!
  • If an off-topic discussion comes up, propose an outlet for attendees to share outside of the meeting (follow up meeting or one-on-one appointment).
  • Require attendees to be respectful and follow the “ground rules”. When facilitating a training session or hosting a meeting, I keep my ground rules posted in a visible location in the room, and occasionally review them at the beginning of the session.  I do refer back to them actively as needed to ensure participants are on task and are able to get the most out of our time together.

Sample Ground Rules for Productive Meetings

  • Arrive and begin on time
  • Prepare any “homework” before you arrive
  • Stick to the Agenda
  • Put off-topic discussions and ideas in the “Parking Lot”
  • Be present – not distracted by responsibilities, duties, electronics, etc.
  • Listen to all people respectfully – no “sidebar” conversations
  • Respond thoughtfully – ask questions to gain clarification
  • Be open to new ideas
  • Participate fully
  • Use appropriate humor selectively
  • Accept responsibility for duties

Final Thoughts

The power to call a meeting should not be abused. Your ability to pull people out of their office, away from their work… and to the bright, cold conference room should be considered carefully each and every time. If you have “standing” meetings, re-evaluate each and every one of them to ensure they are a good use of your team’s time as well. No more getting together to read reports and review stats. Instead, capitalize on people’s natural tendency to want to collaborate and solve problems together and use meetings to get work done!

If you’d like more information or need help running effective meetings and workshops (the ones that people can’t wait to attend!) contact me and let’s talk.  The tips provided here are an excerpt from one of our HR Answers training sessions: Keys to Hosting Effective Meetings.

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About the author: Niki Ramirez is a seasoned business consultant and HR coach with a knack for engaging business leaders.  She has a successful track record partnering with a wide variety of organizations to analyze current human resources and business operations with the objective of designing cost-effective HR, training, and employee relations programs that help every organizations exceed their goals.
Maybe most importantly, Niki is the proud momma to three strikingly intelligent, gorgeous, funny kids.  She loves to horseback ride and get outside to hike and explore the world every spare minute that she has.

 

Legal Alert: New Overtime Rule Affects Workers’ Salaries

If your organization hasn’t already taken time to look into the recent changes to the Fair Labor Standards Act and consider options, now is the time.

This spring (May 2016) the United States Department of Labor revised overtime regulations for the first time since 2004. On May 18, 2016 the Fair Labor Standards Act’s (FLSA) “white collar” overtime exemptions. The new regulations, effective December 1, 2016, increase the salary threshold required to qualify for overtime exemption from $455 per week (or $23,600 per year) to $913 per week (or $47,476 per year). This Final Rule updates the salary level required for exemption to ensure that the FLSA’s intended overtime protections are fully implemented, and to simplify the identification of overtime-protected employees.

Unless employers take action to modify employees’ exempt status, this update extends the right to overtime pay to over 4 million workers who are currently exempt. It also strengthens existing overtime protections for 5.7 million additional white collar salaried workers and 3.2 million salaried blue collar workers whose entitlement to overtime pay will no longer rely on the application of the duties test.

How will your business be affected?  Read on… Continue reading Legal Alert: New Overtime Rule Affects Workers’ Salaries