It doesn’t matter what the circumstance or work environment – gossip is a challenge we all face at one time or another.
As a Pastor or staff leader, one of the biggest challenges you’ll face is managing and mentoring your staff. You’ll often be involved in things that will take you out of your comfort zone – handling gossip will be one of those things. Unfortunately, your church will never be a healthy growing church if gossip is part of your staff culture.
Here are three steps you can take today:
1. Be clear about what gossip is and what it is not.
Dave Ramsey, at Ramsey Solutions, has a zero-tolerance policy about gossip. You get one warning and if you continue to gossip you are fired. Although this may seem harsh, it works. To enforce such a policy however, you’ve got to be clear about what gossip is and what gossip is not. Here’s our definition:
Gossip is when you’re talking critically about someone or something, and you’re not part of the problem and you’re not part of the solution.
2. Deal with the problem right away.
When you hear about gossip, you need to deal with the problem right away, especially if you’re the pastor or hold a leadership position on staff. Gossip is a poison in your staff culture, it must be purged, it cannot be ignored or its impact will expand. Confront it: discreetly, firmly, and immediately, whenever you uncover it or whenever you suspect it.
Also, when staff or volunteers come to you to “complain” about others, hear them out and then graciously send them back to that person, or agree to go with them.
3. Encourage “positive” gossip.
When parish staffs share positive stories with one another it can be very good for the staff culture. Every Monday, we have a “Wins” meeting. Our staff prays together and discusses what happened during the previous weekend that constitutes a win for us. This gives us the opportunity to share positive stories from the weekend, encouraging everyone and thanking those involved. As a staff we are not in the least self-congratulatory in front of the congregation, but behind the scenes we definitely are. “Positive” gossip, over time, can change your staff culture and when people see a healthy staff culture, they want to be a part of it. Nothing is more attractive.