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Today let’s talk about this double-edged sword of having tattletale team members on your team.
In some instances, a team member who tells on another can actually be helpful for you as a leader because you can’t see everything and be everywhere all the time. When you are alerted to a behavior or performance problem, it can be an advantage to you as a leader.
That’s balanced by the other side of having a tattletale team member – a person who regularly tells on their teammates.
Their behavior puts you in an awkward position as the leader, and it can be destructive to the team.
First of all, appreciate their concern. Say, “Hey, thanks for bringing that to my attention …”
Watch out, though, because sometimes those people will ask, “You’re going to go and talk to that person, right?” It’s none of their business what you will do with the information. You could say, “I appreciate you bringing it to my attention. You’ll have to leave it with me.” That way, you’re not making a commitment to act on it.
Secondly, push back a little bit on that person who is your informant, and ask them to focus on their work – but in a nice positive way. ” I appreciate you bringing things to my attention. I want you to focus on your work because that’s your most important responsibility. I like that you’re trying to help me run the department better, but I need you to stay focused on your work. I will certainly take a look at what other people are up to and do my best to lead them effectively.”
The third tip is to see for yourself. If you’ve had something brought to your attention, you need to observe it for yourself. That way, when you talk to that person you can say, “Hey, I noticed that you’ve been away from the production line for quite a while, and it’s affecting our production.”
When someone brings something to your attention that is clearly breaking a company rule or criminal behavior, it requires immediate investigation.
Examples would be actual harassment, physical assault, violence, theft, or sabotage.
In these situations, you might need to say, “It’s come to my attention that you did a certain behavior.”
Whenever possible, don’t throw the informant under the bus, but you need to make it known that you have found out some information.
Tattletale employees are always going to show up somewhere in your team and let you know about issues in the workplace. Always see it for yourself and take action accordingly, unless it’s really serious, in which case you need to investigate it.
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