As a project grows in scope….and as the organization gets larger…our interactions with others becomes less and less reliable. As leaders and managers, we become removed from the actual conversation, leading to “he said” versus “she said” situations. How many times have you been told that “someone (whose name I can’t remember) said that someone (whose name I may or may not remember) failed in a very specific task”?
When you receive hearsay like that – who do you tend to trust?
- Do you assume that “the customer is always right”? Are you are more likely to accept the accusation that someone on your team dropped the ball?
- Do you tend to defend your team? Are you inclined to support them and trust that they followed through with their responsibilities?
There are several other approaches to these type situations.
- Ignore it and move on. This is how the court system handles it. Basically, you recognize that the information is unreliable and therefore no action can be taken in either direction.
- Chase it down. Assume that there is something to be learned. Press the messenger to remember (or confess) who said exactly what. Make it your mission to find out what exactly happened. Keep digging until you get to the truth.
- Make it a teaching opportunity. When someone brings (or repeats) a story involving hearsay, reveal it for what it is. Show them how it can be destructive if it is presented as “fact”. Hold them accountable to use real names and dates.
Here is a final thought: Break the chain. Do not be a carrier of hearsay stories. Use real names, real dates, and real quotes…else choose not to repeat the story.
Thanks for listening.