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03.11.2019 Sharon Spano, Ph.D.

Is Gossip Destroying Your Business Culture?

I meet leaders every day who love to talk about their corporate culture. There’s a lot of exciting things happening in business today with respect to culture and employee engagement.

Today’s leaders—many in the tech space—are doing things differently.

They understand systems. They are far more educated on what leadership actually means. Often they have employees who engage from remote places across the nation or even the globe.

Culture, then, is requiring something more than what we’ve seen in years past. In a world where the opportunity to create and scale a business is more feasible than ever before, culture must be something alive, authentic, and applicable. The vision and values of your company must be inoculated into the workforce each and every day.

And, it must be fully demonstrated by the owners or CEO’s at the top.

Meet Bryan and Shannon Miles, Co-CEO’s of BELAY, Inc.

Yes, I said, Co-CEO’s. So, you already know this is a power couple who makes things happen.

Together, they have created a premium staffing company that services businesses all over the United States.

What makes a young couple with two small children, aged 2 and 5 decide to cash in their 401(k)s to co-create a start-up business?

When I interviewed Bryan Miles for my podcast, The Other Side of Potential, I instinctively knew he was someone special. His demeanor, his language, his vision, and the way he spoke about his wife were different. What they hoped to create —and in fact had already accomplished in their company —was impressive.

Sometime into the conversation, I had to ask.

“Bryan, as I listen to you … your heart, your language, your spirit around this, I’m wondering. Is any of this grounded in a spiritual or philosophical tradition?”

Bryan’s response wasn’t a surprise. He told me that he and his wife operated their business from a Christian perspective. A perspective based on a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. It all made sense.

Now, let me be clear.

In no way am I suggesting that Christians necessarily do business better than anyone else. Christians are human beings who stumble and fall. They don’t always get it right.

The point is that Bryan and Shannon have chosen to integrate what they believe into how they run their business. BELAY is not a "Christian business." It’s a business run by Christians who have a heart for God and a desire to make the world a better place.

Their mission goes well beyond day-to-day profitability. It includes a passion for employee options in the world. In her book, Shannon refers to to this as The Third Option of employment.

Together, these Co-CEO’s are leaning into a global issue: How to work or successfully build a business in today’s fast-paced world and still have time and energy to focus on all that’s required to have a healthy family.

Brian and Shannon discovered that the business was scaling so fast that they had little time for much else. They knew they had to shift gears.

As Bryan explained it, he and Shannon took time away from the business to reflect on what needed to change. At the end of that retreat, they adopted a mantra: “Own the business vs. run the business.”

Realizing this meant that they had to focus on training up leaders so that they could continue to scale the business. Training leaders would allow them to have time for a meaningful life for each other and their children.

It was a challenging transition. It took over three years. Today there are many concrete ways in which this couple lives out an intentionally designed culture.

One of these concrete ways was small but powerful enough that it caught my attention:

BELAY has a zero tolerance for gossip. Yes. Zero. As in you will be fired.

Take a moment and think about the amount of time and energy that is being put into conflict resolution, inflated harmful conversations, assumptions spoken as fact, and egocentric agendas that are often positioned as truth. These are toxic discourses fueling the fire of dissension in the midst of it all—gossip is a seemingly small giant that carries a whopping impact on how people engage in the culture of the organization.

Bryan shared how easy it would be for employees who are remote to generate corporate gossip. As part of BELAY's orientation, new hires sign off on a no gossip policy. They do this with a full understanding that gossip is something detrimental to the core of the business, and even their lives.

The result?

People take problems up, not sideways, and, according to Bryan, this is one way that they have generated a healthier culture. Everyone on the team understands that if they have an issue with someone, they are to take it directly to that person or through the appropriate channels.

Yes, Bryan and Shannon Miles are changing the way we do business. Stay tuned for an upcoming post where I’ll talk more about how Bryan uses the Four B’s to keep himself healthy and on track with his family and the business.

In the mean time, I encourage you to ask yourself the following question:

What’s the one thing you need to change to create a healthier business culture?

Published by Sharon Spano, Ph.D. March 11, 2019