One of America's favorite CEOs explains why he encourages gossip in the office
But Red Hat CEO Jim Whitehurst has a different opinion of the workplace rumor mill."Rule of thumb when it comes to office gossip: If you have more truth telling at the water cooler than in meetings, you've got a problem," Whitehurst, who was recently ranked No. 10 on Glassdoor's list of America's most beloved CEOs, tells Business Insider. "You want to get to a place where people feel safe to share their thoughts, feelings, and opinions about a situation, beyond the water cooler."
"The benefits of open, constructive dialogue are innumerable," says Whitehurst. "As a leader, you can get a more accurate pulse on your organization. What are people excited about? Where are their questions? All of those things matter. And, amazing ideas can come from anywhere in an organization. If you give people a platform to have these conversations, ask questions, and find solutions, amazing things can happen."For many workers, office gossip provides an opportunity to simultaneously share information and vent about issues. Whitehurst is fine with his employees verbalizing such problems, saying that as long as the talk is productive and truthful, it's valuable for the entire company.
"When you have passionate associates, like Red Hatters tend to be, some conversations can get heated," Whitehurst says. "But I'd say the majority are incredibly productive and ultimately help us come up with solutions that a small cohort of teams on their own might never have been able to."
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