I can give you a sure-fire formula guaranteed to run off your best team members, murder team morale, keep the drama and confusion brewing, and wipe out optimism and workplace joy: Tolerate gossip.
Gossip: Rumors and stories. Some call it the grape vine. The water cooler chatter. Those little morsels of workplace drama, typically about other people, that take on a life (or death) of their own. They are little bits of poison. If you have gossip in your business, it is a cancer; a weed that will suck the life out of your organization and bring it down.
Soap operas, tabloids, and cheap talk shows are for losers, and there is no place in a world class business for negative stories. I care enough about your business to possibly offend you with such a strong stand. Why would you feed the dark side of human nature that yearns for juicy, negative, deprecating stories about other human beings? Gossip has its roots in insecure people that get attention and entertainment by putting others down and passing on negative news. It is immature, unkind, childish, and at times borderline illegal (defamation of character).
So, if you are a business leader with workplace authority and responsibility, then find a way to implement a strict “NO GOSSIP” agreement with every team member. Here is an example of a simple and effective rule: “We do not talk negatively about any other person unless they are present. Any negative talk is only for the purpose of finding a resolution or solving the problem.” Problems and gripes do need to be discussed and addressed, but only to the leadership for the purpose of finding solutions and resolving gripes. I recommend a clear written warning on the first offense and firing on the second offense. Dave Ramsey said it well: Hand your negatives up and your positives down. Otherwise it sounds a lot like gossip. Eleanor Roosevelt said “Small minds talk about people, mediocre minds talk about events, and great minds talk about ideas.” Gossip is as bad as illegal drugs.
A gossip free business is a wonderful place to work and serve customers. Great team members will come and stay at such a place, and you can be sure they will flee from a gossipy environment. This is one rule that is a “no brainer.”