Harvard Business Review Reports Gossip Is Good

Gossip is good?  My husband and I were watching the NBC Nightly News earlier this week, and suddenly there was a clip from The Office.  Had one of us accidentally changed the channel?   
Actually, the Office clip was familiar because I had watched this episode with my daughters who love the show.  Take a look at the news story entitled  Study shows office gossip a positive.
The Harvard Business Review (HBR) just released its September issue which includes an article with a most unusual title:  It's Not "Unprofessional" to Gossip at Work.  You can read the article here
What follows are highlights from the HBR article:
"The finding: Gossip can benefit individuals and organizations, though managers often consider all of it to be derogatory and tend to punish gossipers with lower performance ratings."
"Gossip can be very helpful to people in organizations, especially when the flow of information from the top gets choked off, as often happens when companies are in crisis or undergoing change. If a few people know what’s really going on, gossip becomes the means of spreading that information to everyone else. What’s more, research shows that gossip often reduces individuals’ anxiety and helps them cope with uncertainty."
"It’s true that gossip can sometimes crank up the fear level in an organization, but research shows it usually does the reverse. By sharing gossip, you make a personal connection, which gives you social and emotional support. Gossip also disseminates valuable information about a network—who’s a free rider, who’s a bully, and who’s impossible to work with—and provides a means for censuring those who don’t adhere to the group’s norms."
"On the basis of past research, we know that managers consider gossip to be subversive. And it is. Our study shows that the more you gossip, the greater your informal influence among peers. It’s a democratizing force. It levels the playing field between managers and employees. That’s a threat to managers’ desire for complete control. So it’s not surprising that when we asked the managers in our study to evaluate employees’ performance, they gave lower ratings to the employees who gossiped more. That happened whether the gossip was negative or positive, which suggests managers assume any gossip is negative."
"You can’t simply ban gossip—in our research, we find that 96% of employees admit to engaging in gossip at work. Directives to halt gossip usually backfire and generate more gossip. Too often organizations try to squelch it without addressing the problems that are generating it. Negative gossip is a symptom of a larger organizational issue. You should focus on resolving it and on increasing communication and showing that the information you give out is truthful. Those actions will have a much bigger impact."
So "gossip" can be very helpful to organizations, even though the powers that be don't like it.  Can these findings be applied to the faith community?  We believe so.
Blogging has proven to be an effective communication tool, "especially when the flow of information from the top gets choked off". 
As you might imagine, our critics accuse us of gossiping here at The Wartburg Watch, but we work tirelessly to verify the information we share, often providing documentation. 
With the growing trend toward hyper-authoritarianism in many of our churches, you can be certain that information will be guarded at the top.  Nevertheless, we will do our best to keep you "in the know".
Now go and share this information with someone else!


Harvard Business Review Reports Gossip Is Good — 1 Comment

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    Wow! Great info from the HBR! Definitely some application here to religious bloggers and churches.