Adam’s Blog

That’s my thing, keepin’ the faith, baby. –Joe Friday

Experts on Everything: A Newspaper Tells You How to Run Your Business

Posted by Adam Graham on June 5, 2007

The Idaho Statesmen has expanded it’s “wise ones of everything” bit to workplace practices, writing:

Hey, didja hear about the four workers who got fired for dishing dirt about the boss?
No kidding. Happened in Hooksett, N.H. (like we could make up a name like that). These four worked for the town government. They started gabbing about two other town employees, including the town administrator.

So he had ‘em canned.

That oughta shut ‘em up.

And it oughta worry us all.

Stuff like this sets a bad example. It gives free speech a pop in the mouth.

We’ll concede that gossip can be impolite, mean-spirited and hurtful. We’re not condoning that you start or spread a bunch of rumors about your supervisor or your least favorite politico (or, for that matter, about the friendly folks on your local newspaper’s editorial board).

Friendly folks? They must have made some staff changes since I met with them in 2004 when I ran for the Legislature.

The new folks must have no first hand experience with the damage that gossip can do to an organization, be it a business, a church, or a community. It is corrosive. A gossip can wreak havoc on a workplace, destroy retention, and ruin lives, and reputations. The wreckage from gossips line the failings of a multitude of businesses and countless church splits.

One also has to wonder how much religious liberty do the Stateman Employees enjoy. Can they stand on their desks when they’re on break and tell you about Christ? Can Two Mormon employees go desk to desk handing out copies of the Book of Mormon? I doubt it. These are all free speech, freedom of religion activities away from work, but away is the key thing. I don’t really have the same freedom of speech when I go to work as I do when I’m sitting at home writing on my blog. The Statesmen adds bizarrely:

Trouble is, one person’s gossip is another person’s whistleblowing. When bosses start using the power of the pink slip to stop tawdry talk, it’s a short slide down the proverbial slippery slope to muzzle any expression that’s possibly (but not demonstrably) bad for business or somewhat (yet vaguely) out of step with a work place’s “image.” What’s next? A bumper sticker? An off-hours blog? A letter to the editor?

And then you’re stopped from using absurd slippery slopes, and then Nazis come and take you to concentration camps. What the heck?

This type of sad and silly relativism leads to a breakdown in any understandable code of conduct.

If you’re blowing the Whistle, you should be talking to your boss’ Internal superior or an administrative official. If you’re talking to a fellow employee (to do anything other than ask for advice) you’re gossiping and anyone can tell it.

While I agree your off-hours activity and bumper stickers on your car are not the employer’s business unless there’s a conflict of interest, this is a huge red herring. Did any of these people study logic? Apparently not. The quality of editorials at the Statesman has dropped off in recent weeks, but this marks a low.

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