Every organization has rumors. They’re those hallway conversations or behind-closed-doors comments people make about their leader, their work, and their assumptions about the future. This is a natural, normal part of organizational life.
“Did you know?” “Have you heard?” Rumors come in all shapes and forms. Most rumors are based on random pieces of information rolled up into conclusions that have little validity. I often find rumors amusing, but they can be dangerous if they start to gain momentum.When a leader reacts to one comment, they send an organization into a state of confusion. Click To Tweet
Healthy organizations offer multiple employee engagement points (listening sessions, surveys, regular updates, and more) to address questions, concerns, and ideas. These practices unearth rumors and help determine if action is really needed. If your organization doesn’t have these systems in place, rumors are probably already creating problems for your team.
Without healthy communication systems in place, rumors threaten to distract and hold a leader hostage. Leaders who react to random rumors are putting themselves and their organization at risk. Here are three dangers in reacting to rumors:
1. Organizational Confusion.
When a leader reacts to one comment, they send an organization into a state of confusion. A leader may send out a mass communication in response to one data point when the majority of the team doesn’t understand the issue at all. Or worse, the leader reacts in anger or frustration based on random rumors and the entire team feels the results of the anger. Reactionary leaders cause people and teams to go undercover, retreating from healthy engagement.
2. Organizational Chaos.
Reacting to a rumor can cause a leader to take action that throws an organization into chaos. A knee-jerk decision causes work to slow or stop so the team can figure out how to respond. Strategic momentum is lost on priority projects and deadlines are missed, as focus is shifted because of rumors with no validity.
3. Wasted Energy.
When a leader reacts to rumors, they waste their own leadership energy and the leadership energy of everyone else that must respond, take action, or try to figure out the origins of the rumor. Personal and organizational energy is also threatened as focus is diverted. One of the main reasons you should avoid rumors is so you don’t waste time and energy that should go toward your overall purpose and mission as well as helping your team.Reacting to a rumor can cause a leader to take action that throws an organization into chaos. Click To Tweet
Put systems in place so you have facts not random rumors. Watch out for people who like to bring you random rumors or comments from others. In most cases, enjoy the rumors for what they are – interesting and often amusing.
What other dangers do you see from responding to rumors?