Eliminate Staff Gossip at Your Medical Practice

June 14, 2012

Here are some guidance to making your office a gossip-free zone and stop a sure-fire killer of teamwork at your medical practice.

“Unity is seldom found in companies, but always found in great companies.”
- Dave Ramsey

Creating a winning team culture in an office is one of those keys to success that cannot be overlooked. Most team builders come in with a lot of buzzwords, flashing lights, and games in order to engage staff members; often times their solutions dwindle and fade as fast as they arrived. There are simple, real solutions to creating a unified and loyal team environment that can be lasting and permanent. One of the easiest to implement and fastest to build team unity is a "No Gossip Policy."

A No Gossip Policy is simple: Gossip once and you will be warned, gossip again and you will be released. You could implement a few different versions, and with a problematic and bickering staff, you may begin generously with a few additional steps prior to releasing an employee.

Gossip is dishonest, contagious, and breeds disloyalty for your medical practice and within your team. All of the standard bullet points about building a great culture within your company are affected by gossip. Typically team members that gossip about each other, gossip about everybody: staff, physicians, patients, and business. It is not “healthy” for your office to allow gossip. And frankly in the medical field, having an office full of gossip is a quick way to experience legal and professional ramifications.

When you are bringing a policy like this into an existing office dynamic, it is imperative that you don’t hand this out in a memo or e-mail. It is imperative to hold a team meeting, with a detailed explanation, and an opportunity for your team to ask questions.

Team members need to understand how gossip is a barrier to their individual success and the success of the practice. Some of the questions you will likely field during this meeting include:

1. How will this be monitored?

2. What do we do if we have a problem or disagreement?

You may come up with your own answers, but here are two sample answers:

1. This policy will be self-monitored, and monitored by each other. If you gossip, eventually you will get caught in the act. We will warn you once, and then on the second infraction, you will be let go.

2. Always hand negatives up the chain of the command, and positives down the chain and laterally. For instance, the receptionist cannot fix or assist with the fact that you don’t feel you are getting a long enough lunch break, so don’t bring that to him/her. Take that problem to your immediate manager or supervisor.

This policy may not be well-received by all of your staff or team members at first. Your biggest culprits will be the most vocal and try to win over the others. Quality people do not gossip, and after the initial implementation phase of this policy, you will be left with quality people, who monitor and remind each other to remain gossip free, and the largest hurdle to unity will be passed, and you will be coasting on to an office culture that sets you apart from the crowd and helps to pave the way to future successes.

Find out more about Audrey McLaughlin and our other Practice Notes bloggers.