Nov 9, 2008

Negative Rumors

Hello Gautam,

I have been following your blog since over a year now which has helped me immensely in managing the human resources for a small firm of about 100 people.Now, the business is 3 years old and is going through a major change (new services,new clients, projects being pulled out etc.).So obviously the core group is getting kind of insecure,and a few of the influential lot( who've been around for the longest ) are spreading false rumors about the company.Moreover, it's them who we look up to for getting through this phase.My boss (who also happens to be the COO) seems to be oblivious to this and when talked to believes in Theory Y.

Am in a fix as to how to handle such employees? We definitely can't terminate them on such grounds. It's a small company and in such times every negative comment would be harmful in sustaining a calmer and trustworthy work environment as earlier.

Looking forward to your guidance.

It can be such a pain. The people you need to rally the rest, end up making the most problems.
You've mentioned that the business is going through major changes. You also mentioned that  the core group are spreading false rumors.
I would ordinarily expect that any major change initiative would have co-opted this group for their seniority and influence. Obviously that has not been done, either because they are going to be 'inflicted' with change or are going to be left behind.
The rumors they are spreading are being fuelled by their fear. Your COO needs to have a conversation with them. Tell him as a a HR person that the workplace is getting affected by these negativities. If he really believes in Theory Y then he would take their views into account.
Blog post by Sudhanshu on the same problem.