WikiLeaks is in the rumor business. They don’t seem to care if the circulated story is hurtful or dangerous, they just want it to spread.
The same can be said for rumors in the workplace. In order to have a rumor, you have to have an uncertain truth. The more ambiguity in the workplace, the more opportunities exist for the creation and spreading of rumors. Get rid of the ambiguity and you’ll go a long way in getting rid of harmful rumors.
The secret is Sharing Information!
Managers often rely on several myths to rationalize the need to hide information when in reality they are just trying to stay in control through selective information sharing. Here are some of the myths and the reality behind them:
Myth #1: If I give employees that information, it will wind up in the hands of our competitors.
Reality: Your competition already has the information.
Myth #2: If I tell employees what we charge our customers for our products or services, they will demand a pay increase.
Reality: If employees are underpaid, give them a raise. Don’t link the marketplace value of a product or service to the value of an employee.
Myth #3: If I share bad news like a decrease in our market share, it will negatively affect morale.
Reality: The workforce already understands the realities of the market and engaging them in solutions will go farther than denying reality.
Myth #4: If I show employees the income statement and balance sheet, they’ll ask tough questions.
Reality: Educating the staff on the financial model of the company will give them an opportunity to make informed business decisions.
The paradox that sharing information leads to less rumors may be a bit difficult to swallow at first. But adding clarity to an ambiguous situation is just the tonic needed to create an environment of trust. Rumors are much more difficult to start and circulate when employees have all the information they need to make clear, informed decisions.