Pulse January / February 2016 - Page 52

Recognize the sources of office gossip and politics. To create a drama-free work environment, it is crucial to recognize the source and reasons behind the office gossip. Sarah Carroll, assistant general manager of Cooper Fitness Center and Spa in Dallas, Texas, thinks staff compensation and entitlement is a common source of office politics. Gossip that is more personal and damaging in nature may sometimes be driven by resentment over salaries, whether staff members think a veteran employee or a young and inexperienced upstart is paid more than the rest of the team members. That said, there are other causes of gossip that have nothing to do with compensation. Inter-staff relationships, professional and personal, can also be a major source of friction. Lynda Pappas, owner and manager at Skin Deep Day Spa in Crampton Hills, Illinois, says bad attitudes and a lack of respect among colleagues are particularly prevalent when gossip and politics go sour. “We do not discourage our staff from being friends outside of the workplace, far from it, but problems can occur when friendships outside the spa go bad. There need to be clear boundaries within the workplace to make sure that disagreements outside of work are not carried into the spa.” The work of a spa professional is so personal that the results of gossip and office politics can be easy for a client to spot, making for a potentially unsatisfactory spa experience for a client. “When employees are consumed by gossip instead of their jobs, their attention is not focused entirely on their clients, so the performance and reputation of the whole spa can be impacted,” says Pappas. Understand the impact on team members. If you can understand the possible sources of gossip in your business, the next step is to consider how that gossip might impact individual team members. Carroll says she tries to customize her response to each incident of gossip depending on the people involved and the nature of the complaint. “We all know that politics and gossip could exist,” she says, “so I try to think through each scenario before communicating with the parties involved. How I handle issues, how I think through each scenario and how I use the correct tone and message helps me to overcome obstacles.” Decisions made by management, whether they are related to gossip and office politics, must be clearly and generously communicated in order to prevent further misunderstanding and rumor. There is little point in tackling gossip if by doing so the result is a “them versus us” mentality in the workplace. Carroll adds that “as managers, we have (CONTINUED ON PAGE 51) SARAH CARROLL Assistant General Manager Cooper Fitness Center and Spa, Dallas, Texas “If everyone is working hard toward a positive company culture, one that gives guests the kind of welcoming atmosphere they seek in a spa, gossip should not be a crippling problem.” 50 PULSE ■ January/February 2016