Monthly Archives: May 2014

Gossip & Politics Bringing You Down?

What brings production to a halt in your office? Is it gossip? Facebook? Uncertainty? One of our Learning Dynamics Senior Consultants shared her viewpoint and experience this way: “When I worked with one organization, I remember how much productivity was lost. It seemed that the top three reasons for most of it were lack of employee engagement, gossip and politicking.”

There have been books written about employee engagement and our Learning Dynamics blog has several articles on the topic, so we are not going to tackle that here. But what about gossip and politicking? As you survey your work environment, are you detecting any of this? If so, here are some ideas on how to break it up. If you are not detecting it, could you look and listen a little more closely?

Listen to the Grapevine. Some managers state, “I never get involved in the grapevine. It’s a waste of time.” If this is you, reconsider. The grapevine, the rumor mill, and the quiet conversations in the lunch room can be valuable sources of information. Managers who listen to the office rumblings can do something about it. Those who are oblivious, obviously, cannot.

Sunshine. Shed some light on the subject. Lots of it! There is nothing like truth directly from the boss to dispel rumors and get everyone back to work. Use every channel at your disposal to spread the word. This includes email, newsletters, bulletin boards, internal web sites and group huddles. A simple message that starts with “You might have heard…now here’s the truth…” can work wonders.

Recognize Performers. Politics surge when people are uncertain and when they perceive that there is something to be gained. Effective leaders can quell this activity by recognizing top performers consistently and publicly. This includes small actions and big ones, including promotions and greater job responsibilities. If the low-performing politicians see that it isn’t working, and that hard work and results define success, they just might get back to work.

Accessible Leaders. An open door can encourage employees to face issues head-on. If they know that they can get straight answers from the boss, that the door is open, then why will they want to gossip and speculate?

No work place is perfect, and people are going to talk, but it can get better. As our Senior Consultant noted, these unproductive activities cost time and money. Recognize the reality and face it with real action.


Learning Dynamics can bring customized leadership training to your team. Give you managers the tools they need to maximize results with Learning Dynamics.

People and (not “or”) Machines

people and machinesToyota is taking tasks back from the robots. A compelling piece on Quartz explains that the carmaker’s executives realized that people still play an important role in production and that something is lost when employees do little more than feed the machine. Humans use their creativity and wisdom to envision new and better ways of doing a job, while computers and robots simply follow their programs. It’s a big difference. Toyota’s quality and efficiency have improved as a result.

There is something to be learned from this for all business leaders. While computers and robotics have helped us make giant improvements in quality, reliability and safety, and they handle many monotonous mind-numbing tasks that people don’t want to do, people still contribute in a special way. Creativity is part of it. Intuition, inspiration and joyful experimentation make a difference, too.

Have you ever seen a technology implementation deliver less than expected? How about a new process or an outsourcing initiative to failed to achieve its goals? Is it possible that the best people have had their roles reduced or eliminated and something has been lost?

Maybe the sweet spot is somewhere in the middle. A strategy where the best, most talented people are engaged and inspired to create, while the machines do the heavy lifting, should be explored. Until the day when computers can think for themselves – and that is still a long time away (we hope) – the spark and serendipitous discovery that only happen when people have a part will make a critical difference.

What is your organization doing to train, inspire and retain its best people, those who can “master the machines”? Who are your masters, or who will be with enough time, training and development.


Learning Dynamics offers a wide range of training and development solutions for progressive, forward-looking organizations.