When it comes to managing others, no one has it harder than a manager new to the team. Now more than ever, that means millennial managers.
With 28% of millennials currently in management roles, according to Elance-oDesk’s 2015 Millennial Majority Workforce Study, and two-thirds of millennials expecting to become managers in the next decade, more and more are having to wade through the challenges leadership brings.
Not only do new managers — millennial or otherwise — have to acquaint themselves with their new team members quickly, but they also need to learn their team’s dynamics and address any issues to keep productivity efficient. For many managers, that means addressing the elephant in the room: Office gossip.
Why office gossip matters to managers
Negative office gossip is bad for morale and, according to 42% of respondents in a June 2014 CareerBuilder survey, one of the top causes of productivity loss in the workplace. Office gossip can create tension between team members that results in harmful competition, poor performance and decreased collaboration.
Changing these gossip dynamics can be especially challenging for millennials managing older employees whose company tenure is longer than they have been in the workforce. But it’s not impossible.
One way to attack office gossip as a new manager is to find out what makes your team tick — and that means understanding your team members’ personalities.
What personality traits drive office gossip?
There's a degree of psychology behind office gossip: Different personality types gossip for different reasons. Determining what Myers-Briggs personality type categories your employees fall under can be an effective tool for minimizing or stopping office gossip.
Here are three tips for managing different office gossip personalities on your team:
- Extraverts like to talk, so get them to talk positively.
Extraverts get their energy from group discussion and community-like interactions. For them, gossip could be how they recharge their batteries before getting back to work, or it could be what makes them feel fulfilled. While these are both healthy reasons for employe interaction, it’s the negative gossip that can cause problems if left unchecked.Start by meeting with your extraverted employees and assuring them you understand their need for interaction with others, but that it needs to stay positive. Talk to them about how positive gossip can increase productivity, build better working relationships and create a more cohesive team.
Once you’ve had the discussion, be an example. Use meetings and brainstorming sessions to share positive stories about individual team members with the whole team — and encourage others to do the same. Build a positive-gossip culture by chatting with your Extraverts regularly and sharing "good" gossip with them in the hopes that they will spread the news.
- Thinkers are driven to succeed, so highlight gossip’s productivity flaws. Thinkers focus on career growth and economic status as their benchmarks for success. They take a more rational, "How does this help me?" approach to their decisions than their Feeler counterparts. Because of this, they may be gossiping to tear other coworkers down and help themselves advance.
If this is the case with your Thinkers, discuss how you, as a manager, evaluate individual and team success. Explain how working as a part of a team is paramount to their individual success.
For the best results, appeal to Thinkers’ rational approach to decision-making. Stress how negative gossip hinders team productivity, which in turn can hinder a Thinker’s individual career growth.
- Feelers want to be part of the group, so let them know how gossip alienates others.
When it comes to success and happiness, Feelers want their work to echo their personal values. They want to be a part of something bigger than the typical 9-to-5 organization. Often, that means they are gossiping to "fit in" with team members and to feel like part of the group.
Meet with your entire team to discuss the efficiency roadblocks your group is facing, including gossip. Develop a role-playing scenario and ask your employees to rotate through the different roles (gossiper, gossipee, manager, bystander, etc.) to see how gossip can affect everyone in the office. When possible, give specific examples of how negative gossip can harm other team members and make them feel like they are "outsiders."
Millennial managers, and other first-time managers, with teams that gossip in the office need to address the issue immediately. Workplace gossip hurts your team’s morale, engagement and productivity — and that reflects on your management capabilities.
Question: How have you dealt with office gossip on your team?
This article originally appeared on Mashable and has been republished with the author's permission. About the Author: Molly Owens is the CEO of Truity Psychometrics LLC, a California-based provider of online personality and career assessments and developer of the TypeFinder® personality type assessment.