How Many of Your Employees Are Going to Get the Covid Vaccine?

I’m sure you’ve been seeing the headlines, across America we continue to hear about front-line workers, healthcare workers who are refusing to get the Covid vaccine. In Ohio, it’s estimated that 60% of nursing home workers declined to get the vaccine!

I want to believe that those choosing not to get the vaccine when they could get that vaccine are just ignorant and natural selection will take its course. But, not even 100% of hospital workers, nurses, and doctors on Covid units are getting the vaccine they are eligible to get!

So, we know that when it comes time that we can help our own employees get the vaccine, not all will want it. This will cause a bunch of issues in organizations that we haven’t even come close to really knowing, yet.

Can you fire an employee who refuses to get a Covid Vaccine? 

Short answer? Yes. The longer answer depends on a number of factors. Do they have a legitimate religious exemption, not one they’ve conveniently made up in the past day or so? Do they have a document medical issue? Etc.

The reality is employers have a lot of ground to stand on when forcing employees to get a vaccine or lose their job. Getting the vaccine becomes a workplace safety issue and the government and the courts have shown a willingness to back these protections.

The more important question is, do you as an employer want to force employees to get the vaccine, or is there a better way to get the same result? This is really a company by company decision.

What are some ways to get employees to want to take the vaccine? 

Let’s face it, the vast majority of most employees, at most employers, will actually want to get the vaccine and get back to life as “normal” before the pandemic. So, anything you roll out to entice your employees to get the vaccine will be a bonus most probably didn’t need. That being said, here’s what I’ve been hearing some employers are doing:

  • Cash bonus to get the vaccine. $100 if you get the vaccine in a certain time period once it’s available.
  • Extra time off.
  • Extra flexibility around their schedule.
  • Making it super convenient, like offering vaccines onsite at the workplace.

It’s basically the carrot or the stick. Most likely, organizations will have to use both to get to the point of ‘herd immunity’. The reality is, based on data, you don’t actually have to have 100% of employees get vaccinated to make your workplace safe.

I think it’s important to remember that factor. You really don’t need 100%. As organizations do we really want to fight that battle with someone who just refuses, yet, they are a good, solid employee? I don’t think it will be worth it in the long run.

The one thing you might try is drafting an agreement for those who refuse which would state, they are refusing to get the vaccine and I would try and add in some language that gives you the right as an employer to be able to let other employees know who are those employees are aren’t vaccinated from a workplace safety issue, so other employees know who they need to continue to social distance from. Is this ideal? Heck no! There are HIPAA issues, among others. But, this is about how do we keep the majority of our employees safe.

Now, before drafting some agreement like that up on your own, get your legal counsel involved. They’ll balk at first, but with some pushing, they can put something together that will protect the organization from any legal blowback.

Again, you have to weigh the outcome of doing something like this. Those employees who refuse the vaccine, sign your agreement, and you make that public among your employees is now wearing a scarlet letter around. That isn’t good either, from a cultural standpoint.

This is why HR is so much fun! We don’t live in black and white, we live in the gray. There isn’t one perfect answer to the question. Of course, the best-case scenario is every single one of your employees wants the vaccine and gets the vaccine. Unfortunately, I don’t see that happening with too many organizations.

Your Superpower is Your Authentic Self!

I had someone ask me what my superpower is? I found that a hard question to answer. I mean do you think being able to write a 500-word blog post in 15 minutes a superpower!? Some bloggers probably do, but no one else!

I was told that my true superpower was me just being me. My authentic self. Then I asked this person how much I owed them for the life coaching session! 😉

We are told constantly to be ourselves, or live our true life, find a way to be yourself, etc. The reality is being your authentic self might be your superpower, but like all superpowers, they can be used for good or evil.

Let me give you the best example ever! Donald Trump is his authentic self. It’s his superpower and he rode that superpower right into the White House. His authentic self was a superpower he used for evil, and ultimately it destroyed him and his legacy.

What I find a leader of people is that employees living their authentic self either works wonderfully or awfully and rarely anywhere in between!

Here’s the thing about being your authentic self, you must first know if your “authentic self” something others want to be around or if your authentic self off-putting to others. I’m not saying you shouldn’t be yourself, but if your authentic self is a complete asshole, you might want to work for yourself and not someone else!

Let be really frank here, any gender can be an off-putting authentic self. It doesn’t mean you don’t love who you truly are, but you must also realize who you truly are isn’t what most people want to be around. Your superpower isn’t going to be asked to join the Justice League, you’re going to be asked to join the villain side.

In real life, you actually don’t become a villain, unless you’re DJT. Most likely you become your own boss, or you live a miserable existence trying to fit into a work world that doesn’t want you and you don’t want it. Some of the best and brightest people I know can’t work for others. Their superpower is something that allows them to be awesome, but not when working closely with others on a daily basis.

Why does this matter? 

It matters because if some idiot is trying to sell you the snake oil of “Just be your Authentic Self” you must first determine, is your authentic self something others will embrace and want to be around. If so, great, you’re going to probably have a great career. If it’s not, and you want to work in the corporate world, you’re probably in for a lot of therapy.

Also, let me be very clear, not living your authentic self while you are at work isn’t the worse thing in the world. You can be one thing at work and another thing in your personal life. Is it ideal? No. But, I’ve seen many people in my career be successful in doing this. It’s a little like Clark Kent and Superman. I can be Clark Kent at work and then go home and be Superman in the rest of my life.

The worse thing that can happen is you try and force your authentic self onto others and believe they should “accept” your authentic self. Nope. That’s not how it works. You can’t make anyone accept your authentic self, you can only make yourself accept that. If I don’t like your superpower, you can’t make me like it, and if I’m in a position to determine the trajectory of your career, you’re in trouble.

Superpowers are awesome, but they can be super for good or super for bad. Love who you are, but don’t expect others will necessarily love it.

Leadershipping on Christmas

First, it’s Christmas and the majority of the world is not working. Okay, you Mr./Mrs. Hustle is still working, but normal people, those who celebrate Christmas and those who don’t, and primarily not working, so why are you reading this dumb blog post!

But, while I have you…

I think great leaders do certain things really well (also, I’m not trying to set myself up as a great leader, I’m not, but man I’m trying to be better):

  • They let people know you care about them when they least expect it, but probably need it the most.
  • They have the ability to come across as sincere because they are and probably are very particular in letting people know.
  • They have the ability to make others feel special in the best ways.

Now, don’t go off and start sending messages to everyone on your team!

Do go send a message or two to a few people who need it. Who made a difference to you this year, or to that someone who just needs it today.

The holidays can be the best time of year and the worse time of year depending on your circumstances. You might not actually be having a great day, today. But, I bet sending a note of gratitude and thanks to someone else, will definitely lift your spirits and theirs.

Happy Holidays, Friends!

The 12 Steps of Recovery for Passionate A$$holes!

I wrote a post a while back titled, “The 5 Things HR Leaders Need to Know About Developing Employees“. In that post I had a paragraph:

When I was young in my career, I was very ‘passionate’. That’s what I liked calling it – passionate.  I think the leaders I worked with called it, “career derailer”.  It took a lot for me to understand what I thought was a strength, was really a major weakness.  Some people never will gain this insight.  They’ll continue to believe they’re just passionate when in reality they’re really just an asshole.

I then had a reader send me a message and basically said, “This is me!” And I was like, “That was me too!” And then we kissed. Okay, we didn’t kiss, but it’s great to find another like yourself in the wild!

The reality is, I’m a recovering Passionate Asshole.

What’s a “Passionate Asshole” who are asking yourself? Here’s my definition. A passionate asshole is a person who feels like they are more about the success of the company than anyone else. I mean everyone else. They care more than everyone! And because we care so much, we treat people poorly who we feel don’t care as much as us!

Passionate assholes truly believe in every part of their being they’re great employees. You will not be able to tell us any differently. They are usually high performing in their jobs, which also justifies even more that they care more. But, in all of this, they leave a wake of bad feelings and come across like your everyday basic asshole.

You know at least one of these people. They’re usually younger in the 24-35-year-old range. Too early in their career to have had some major setbacks and they have high confidence in their abilities.

Here are the 12 Steps of Recovery for Passionate Assholes:

Step 1: Realization that you’re an Asshole, not the best employee ever hired in the history of the universe. This realization doesn’t actually fix the passionate asshole, but without it, you have no chance.

Step 2: You understand that while being a passionate asshole feels great, this isn’t going to further your career and get you to your ultimate goal.

Step 3: Professionally they have to be knocked down in a major way. I was fired. Not because I was doing the job, but because I was leaving a wake of bodies and destruction in the path of doing my job. You don’t have to be fired, demotion might also work, but usually, it’s getting canned that will do the trick.

Step 4: Someone you truly respect needs to tell you that you’re not a good employee, but an asshole, during a time you’ll actually listen.

Step 5: Find a leader and organization that will embrace you for who you’re trying to become, knowing who you truly are. You don’t go from Passionate Asshole to model employee overnight! It’s not a light switch.

Step 6: Time. This is a progression. You begin to realize some of your passionate asshole triggers. You begin to use your powers for good and not to blow people up who you feel aren’t worthy of oxygen. Baby steps. One day at a time.

Step 7: You stop making bad career moves based on the passionate asshole beast inside of you, telling you moving to the ‘next’ role is really the solution to what you’re feeling.

Step 8: We make a list of people we’ve destroyed while being passionate assholes. Yes, even the people you don’t like!

Step 9: Reach out to the people you’ve destroyed and make amends. Many of these people have ended up being my best professional contacts now late in life. Turns out, adults are actually pretty good a forgiving and want to establish relationships with people who are honest and have self-insight.

Step 10: We are able to tell people we’re sorry for being a passionate asshole when find ourselves being a passionate asshole, and not also seeing the passion within them and what they also bring to the organization is a value to not only us but to the organization as a whole.

Step 11: You begin to reflect, instead of reacting as a first response. Passionate assholes love to react quickly! We’re passionate, we’re ready at all times, so our initial thought is not to think, but to react decisively. You’ve reached step 11 when your first thought is to no longer react like a crazy person!

Step 12: You begin to reach out to other passionate assholes and help them realize how they’re destroying their careers and don’t even know it. You begin mentoring.

I know I’ll never stop being a Passionate Asshole. It’s a personality flaw, and even when you change, you never fully change. But, I now understand when I’m being that person, can usually stop myself mid-passionate asshole blow up, and realize there are better ways to communicate and act.

I’m not a Dr. but I did stay at a Holiday Inn Express!

On Friday, the Wall Street Journal published an opinion article regarding incoming First Lady Dr. Jill Biden, using the pre-nominal “Dr.” when she has a doctorate in education, Ed.D, versus a medical doctorate, Ph.D. There is no doubt that Jill Biden did the work and received the degree, from a real, actual university.

The question really comes down to, is there really a difference in calling someone “Dr.”? 

I’m a brain surgeon, call me Dr. I’m a clinical psychologist, call me Dr. I’m a Pharmacist, call me Dr. I’m a Physical Therapist, call me Dr. I’m a Professor of Sport History, call me Dr. I’m a Vaccine Scientist, call me Dr. I teach English 101 at a local community college, call me Dr.

For each of those titles, currently, to obtain that title you have to have a doctorate degree. Well, actually, you don’t have to have a doctorate to teach at a university or community college. To become a medical doctor, Pharmacist, Physical Therapist, today, you must get your doctorate in the U.S. Regardless, many people get a doctorate but do jobs that don’t necessarily need a doctorate to do that job.

As a recruiting professional, I have an opinion. 

I believe we call people Dr. when in normal society those people are called “doctors”. When I go see a Physician, most people, who don’t know them personally, will call them “doctor”. If in a normal work setting, someone doesn’t call you “doctor”, but you call yourself doctor, that comes off really bad.

The worse is when you expect someone else to call you “doctor” but the average person in the world would never expect to call you “doctor”. Then you come across as pompous. “Tim, it’s nice to meet you!” Yes, that’s Dr. Tim, thank you. “No, that’s Dr. Asshole, goodbye!”

This is just good situational awareness if you are on the job market. We deal with many candidates who have their doctorate in various sciences. It’s very rare in a professional work setting they would ever use “Dr.”, and if they corrected a hiring manager during an interview, let’s face it, that wouldn’t end well.

Does any of this really matter? 

Before someone loses their head and puts in a 700-word comment about how I’m a misogynist against Dr. Jill Biden, check yourself. I could care less about what Jill Biden wants to be called. If she wants to call herself Queen, good for her! Dr. Queen, even better!

The reality is, most likely, this Op-Ed wouldn’t have been written if Jill Biden was voted in as President, and her first husband, Joe, has his doctorate in education, and called himself Dr. Joe Biden. So, that’s a problem. It doesn’t make the Op-Ed opinion wrong, just questionable.

If she’s comfortable with calling herself Dr., that’s all that really matters. I have a feeling that if I got an Ed.D or any other kind of doctorate degree, I would force people to call me Dr.! “Hey, Mr. Teddy Starbucks barista, that’s “Dr. Timmy”! Get it right!” I would also expect that people would say bad things behind my back if it wasn’t normal for someone with my degree to be called “Dr.”

What do the “real” doctors think? 

I got feedback from three friends who all have a doctorate degree. All three felt like this was basically bad form on the part of the writer of the Opt-Ed. He comes across as a sexiest, old, out of touch elitest.

There is, though, a background within the doctoral community of hazing between those with doctorates about who has the “better” degree and from the “better” school. Also, MD’s, medical doctors, most likely look down on all other doctorates who don’t save lives.

As my one friend put it, I will definitely give it to my fellow doctorate friends who have an Ed.D versus a Ph.D, or went to a B-level school versus an A-list school. But, let’s not kid ourselves, I could have not gone to my Ph.D class on management, or done poorly, and no one is losing their life!

The fact is, all doctorate recipients did the work. Professionally, they will take being called “Dr.” in that professional setting. Professors might not ask to be called “Dr.” but if a student calls them by “Dr.” it fits the professional setting. If Jill Biden is working on Educational Policy and Strategy, if completely fits her being called Dr. Biden, that is her professional role.

If I’m going out for dinner with Jill and Joe, in a personal setting, of course, it would seem weird for her to want me to call her Dr. Jill Biden at the dinner table, if we were just having a social dinner. But, that’s not what this is about. This is about someone you thinks he knows more than everyone else, and he’s going to mansplain it to us all, especially, a woman.

If Jill wants to be called Dr. Jill Biden, call her that. If you don’t like it, then don’t put yourself in a position to have to use her name. I’m sure she would appreciate that.

3 Things you can do at the office the Friday after Thanksgiving – Remote Work Edition!

So, in the United States, if you have to work the day after Thanksgiving in an office environment, we’ve had this neat little game we play. You act like you work all day, while basically doing nothing!

I’ve written about this in the past and tried to give advice to those poor souls who must go into the office the day after Thanksgiving. I was trying to help them be productive, things like:

  • Clean out your files – paper and digital
  • Send out emails to folks you are thankful for but haven’t told recently
  • Organize your calendar for the next month to ensure you kill the last month of the year.

This year, for so many office workers, it’s completely different! You now are remote. The vast majority of you will have no watchful overload to see if you are actually doing anything or not. It’s just you and your conscience, working all alone at your home.

So, what should you be doing this Friday?

Well, the try-hards in the bunch will do the things listed above but also add:

  • Early morning email out to folks that manner with some kind of important question. Make sure to note, “No reply needed today, but you get a minute…”
  • Late afternoon update on something with data. “I was just crunching some 3rd quarter data and found that we can probably do a budget adjustment for 4th quarter on “X”.”
  • Pro-Level: send a text message to someone else who is working asking for a file you can’t find.

This will show the powers-that-be that you’ve been working super hard all day!

Then there are the other things you can do in between that 8 emails and that 4:30 pm email:

  • Black Friday online shopping (this should take up most of the day) – at least one stop at some sort of office supply site, because “office supplies”
  • Catch up on some Netflix documentaries that have some sort of connection to whatever you do. Research for work stuff.
  • For those who love holiday decorations, this is a perfect time to “decorate your office”
  • There’s always some sort of football game on, just have it running on your second or third screen, I mean you’re working!
  • I like to make a big pot of chili for lunch on Black Friday (it’s okay, you’re working you get to eat lunch)
  • I like to send out holiday cards to my professional network on this day, which is probably really is work, so I might hold off until Monday for this task.

If any of my own team at HRU Tech is reading this – do not send me emails early in the morning or late in the afternoon – unless you really need something, because I know you’ll be doing work if it’s needed, and you’ll be enjoying your life if it’s needed! You can sed me any text messages with great deals you find that you think I should be aware of!

At what age should you retire?

We tend to believe retirement is an age thing. Well, once you turn 65, it’s time to retire! Do you know where ’65’ actually came from? Most HR pros will probably guess it, it’s when America instituted social security insurance back in 1935.

The U.S. Government, in 1935, didn’t even use any science to determine 65 years old.  At the time, the national railroad pension retirement age was 65, and about half the state pensions were the same (the other half were 70), so 65 years old was chosen. Way less red tape back in 1935! Can you imagine the government trying to make that decision today!?

So, you turn 65 and you’re supposed to retire. In 1935, that probably was fairly accurate. The actual life expectancy in 1935 was only 61! So, we built social security knowing most people would not live to receive it. Today, life expectancy is around 79 years old!  As you can imagine, 65 years old is no longer a realistic retirement age.

I’m currently 50 years old.  It’s my belief that I have about 20 years left to work and save for my retirement. I’m assuming I’ll work until I’m at least 70.  70 years old today doesn’t seem like 70 years old when I was a kid.  My parents are now in their 70’s and they don’t seem ‘old’. I mean they’re old, but not like they can’t do anything old.  Both could still easily work and produce great work if they wanted to.

All of this should change how we look at succession planning in our organizations, but we still use 65 as the ‘expiration’ date of when someone no longer seems to have value. “Oh, you know Tim, he’s going to be 65 next year, I’m amazed he can still stay awake all day!”

65 in 2020 is not the same 65 we saw in 1935!  The health and physical wellbeing of those two people are worlds apart!

Succession Planning needs to catch up with this difference.  HR needs to lead this charge.  Part of this change starts with us changing the language and numbers we use when describing retirement.  Regular retirement age needs to start at 70 years old, at a minimum, and move up from there.  We need to eliminate 65 years old from everything we write and speak.  It’s just no longer valid or accurate.

Once we push this date out, we can then start to plan much more accurately to what our organizational needs will truly be.  Next, we need to have frank conversations with those who we believe are reaching an age where they want to retire and have real conversations.  HR pros have been failing at this for years!  It’s actually not against the law to ask an employee what their retirement plan is! It should be against the law that you don’t ask this question!

If an employee knows that you are working with them to reach their goals, and you let that employee know that ‘hey, we need you for another five years’, most will actually happily stay on the additional time.  My Dad worked in a professional job until he was 72, and they wanted him longer! Don’t ever underestimate the power of being wanted. As we age, that desire to be wanted just increases!

So, I’ll ask you. At what age do you think someone should retire?

I voted for an elderly white man! #YesIDid #vote2020

I’ve written a ton about ageism on my blog. Let’s face it, I’m a 50-year-old white dude. Yeah, I know I love higher 40’s, but still, it is what it is. Ageism is a real problem in hiring. I’ve written often of my support for older workers and them being the most undervalued talent in the marketplace.

That being said, I’m not super excited about hiring a white dude over 70 to be my President. I also wouldn’t be super excited at hiring a black man or woman over 70 to be my President.

Does that make me ageist? Yeah, probably it does! I think it was the broadway musical Avenue Q that said, “we’re all a little bit racist” and I’m saying we’re all a little bit ageist!

Don’t get me wrong, I love my parents, and my grandma and my aunts! They are wonderful dear people! I love spending time with them and explaining things like TikTok and how you don’t have to keep a VCR around any longer. They would do anything for me!

I back the sugar daddies that can grab a girl 40-50 years younger than them, just because they have a ton of money. Wait, no I don’t, that still gross! Like way gross! Stop it!

Being a middle-aged white dude (assuming I live until I’m 100) I was hoping for a selection of candidates that was younger and more diverse. Maybe someone in their 40s! Maybe a female! I don’t know, maybe a Hispanic or Asian! Someone who spoke as I spoke. Someone who viewed the world in a longer-term sense than like I might die before this speech is over.

Call me ageist, if you want. Cancel me. Whatever.

This is our fault. Younger people, like me, are the ones to blame. We allowed this to happen because we don’t get out and vote and say, “Wait, Grandpa, go back home and stop acting like you can run the most powerful country in the free world! We don’t even let you drive long distances any more!” We didn’t show up to vote when it wasn’t the “big” vote. We waited for all the older people, who actually pay attention to this shit, to do the voting, and then we bitch and moan we don’t like the choices!

I think it’s time we just came to the conclusion that, as Americans, we just really like old white dudes! The facts are the facts! The data doesn’t lie! Look, we all have a flavor and apparently, America’s flavor is old, white, and male. Some people get really upset by this, but then go and pick another old white guy. Even Obama, choose an old white buy to be his running mate because he knew the flavor we like. You really think Obama wanted to hang out with Biden!? He could have had someone super cool! He could have had Oprah or Beyonce or Chris Rock, Anyone!

So, go vote for your old white guy today and be happy you were given the flavor you’ve purposely decided you wanted.

 

 

4+ Ways I would Fix Politics

Yep, buckle up kids, Uncle Timmy is ranting today!

First, anyone who calls themselves “Uncle” anything should be shot. That’s a creepy factor of one thousand, on a scale of one to one hundred.

I’ve been trying to figure out how to write about politics for a few months now. My personal Life Coach, Kristian Dunn, has pleaded with me, not to do this. “You’re going to ruin your career! You should stay neutral! Everyone loves Switzerland! Only idiots talk about politics!” My life coach is very Aaron Burr – “Talk Less, Smile More, Don’t let them know what you’re against or what you’re for!”

He’s way smarter than I am. I just can’t sit here and watch what’s going on and not act!

Okay, here are the four things I would do to fix politics:

1. Political Advertising, of every kind, can only be run for 30 days before the election, and the amount spent has to be equal for all parties. So, Dems run $25 Million only, GOP can only run $25 million. But this includes all registered parties in all fifty states, so if the Green Party only spends $500K, guess what? Dems and GOP can also only spend $500K, or they could give money to the green party to be used for additional advertising.

2. If you vote early, all advertising is eliminated from your TV, social media, radio, etc. I’m not sure how technology will figure it out, but if they can figure out I like certain stuff, they can figure out how to filter out certain stuff.

3. You get 2 terms max – President, Senate, House. That’s it. No, sitting out for one term and coming back. Do your time, and then get a real job, you loser career politicians trying to make decisions for me and you’ve never worked a real job. Also, judges get ten years max, at all levels. I get why we do lifetime appointments, but what we end up with are dinosaurs on the bench that parties won’t let retire for fear of losing a seat. RBG should have been on a beach in a hammock with a frozen cocktail, but No, we need her to stay around until she dies.

4. For every lie a politician tells, and we’ll create judging panels of voters with equal numbers who will vote on the lies, and the politician has to spend 24 hours in prison if it is determined they lied, and pay the American people $100,000 per lie. By the people, for the people, motherf@ckers! “But he lied more!” One lie is too much. You are supposed to be helping us, morons.

You want some bonus ones!? Because I’m fired up and my Life Coach wouldn’t take my call this morning!

Bonus fixes:

– All elected officials get the same crappy health insurance you give to senior citizens. Same docs, same hospitals, same drug costs. No more Walter Reed. You’re going to county general, I hope you didn’t cut their funding!

– If your net worth is over $5 million you can’t run for office.

– If you’re eligible for social security, you can’t run for office.

– If you have paid income taxes in America for ten years, have citizenship, you can run for every office in the land.

– If you ever got recorded tasting or eating a Tide Pod you can’t run for any office. (Come on, we’ve got to have some limits!)

– If you’ve been publicly recorded stating that you believe the earth is flat, you can’t run for any office.

Happy voting! Don’t pay any attention to the rules designed by the two parties in power, to keep those two parties in power, and not allow anyone else to rise up to power. Because I’m sure one of those two parties fits all of your ideology perfectly, right?

 

OMG! Did you guys hear what Kris did!?! #Yikes!

Gawd! We love gossip!

I’m personally on five text groups, a few Messenger groups, a couple of IG groups, and a number of email chains that all act like some strange modern version of a watercooler in the breakroom at work. Or the back smoke break patio at the office. Pick your pleasure.

Cultural anthropology sees gossip as an informal way of enforcing group norms. It is effective in small groups. But gossip is not the search for truth. It is a search for approval by attacking the perceived flaws of others…As a social enforcement mechanism, gossip does not scale. Large societies need other enforcement mechanisms: government, religion, written codes.”

Think about how gossip can help organizations perform better.

If I’m new to a department, gossip quickly lets me know the group norms that are expected and tolerated. If I want to be viewed as a good performer I will follow the group norms and gossip is the vehicle for letting me know what those norms will be.

If I’m a “good” gossip, I skilled at finding and sharing information amongst my team they find valuable, I’ll quickly increase my status within the department. I have to be careful as lies and false gossip can quickly bring me down in status.

The problem with gossip, historically, is in didn’t scale well. I might have some juicy gossip but how am I going to effectively share that across an entire organization? But, now with social media, the internet, smartphones, email, Teams/Slack, Zoom, etc., we can easily spread gossip, both good and bad.

So, why am I talking about gossip? 

I will tell you leaders and HR spend more time trying to stop gossip within the organization than almost anything. I’m wondering if we are actually doing ourselves a disservice. What if we used gossip to drive great engagement? What would that look like?

The key to great gossip is “we” all want to be in on a secret. 

We want gossip that we believe almost no one else has. To use gossip to enforce organizational norms (gossip at scale) we can’t just go out and start launching secrets into the world. There has to be a plan!

The problem with trying to lead with gossip is it can lead to chaos. If we believe the social/group norm is to communicate via gossip, that is a very fine line to try and navigate successfully, knowing it’s hard to know what gossip to believe or not believe.

I think we can use the psychology behind our desire for gossip, though, to drive some great outcomes within our organizations.

What happens if you’re in a small meeting, let’s say, five people. The CEO is one of those people and she has something amazing to tell everyone, BUT, the four of us will have to keep this secret. We can’t tell anyone!

We all leave the meeting. I’ve got my #1 right-hand person on my team. I’ve got to pull them in, this is too important, this has too big of an impact on our department not to let my #1 know! So, I trust them (like the CEO trusted me) to not tell anyone else. What happens?

  1. They are over the moon that I trusted them enough to bring them in on the secret. (High Engagement – High Loyalty)
  2. I put myself in a really bad position if the CEO finds out.
  3. I start working with the CEO to let us work on a comms plan to let others know that need to know. (basically to cover my ass for already letting the secret out into the wild!)

Welcome to Organizational Behavior 101, kids!

Every leader has “gossip”. Stuff they know that their team doesn’t know. Some of that is secret. Some of that is just stuff they found about before everyone else, for an undetermined amount of time.

I find that leaders who can use the positive “safe” gossip for informing their team tend to have extremely high team engagement. “Hey, team, we need to pull it in close for a five-minute huddle, I’ve got something really important I need to share with you. But, first, you have to understand, this is NOT public information! We can’t allow this to be shared.”

I just wrote that, and I’m sitting here wanting to know what comes next! Gossip is a powerful tool, that can just as easily make your career as break your career!

As leaders, it’s our job to ensure the group norms we allow are ones where the good gossip, the sharing of information that helps us all increase our knowledge and power are encouraged, while the bad gossip is shut down immediately. All gossip is not bad, but it’s all-powerful in terms of possible outcomes.