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Ask Dr. Sharkey: When Employee Collaboration Turns Into Oversharing

Posted by Sandy Yu on 7.11.2019



“Dr. Sharkey, the future of work has obviously changed drastically in just 10 years. Today, my employees are more connected than I ever imagined. This is fantastic for employee collaboration, but I often worry about oversharing and the negative effects it could have on my team. For example, an employee recently came to me distraught about something their co-worker shared with them that was overly-personal. How do I continue encouraging workplace collaboration and closeness, but also keep oversharing at bay?”

Oversharing is never good, especially if it is of a personal nature. This, however, is not unique to today's workforce. This element has actually always been there as close workers have ‘water cooler’ discussions. Now, oversharing has expanded to various aspects inside and outside of the workplace, such as texting, emails, and even via social media.

In response to your distraught worker, it’s important to encourage a candid and direct discussion between both workers. This doesn’t mean you should personally intervene, however. Instead, encourage the aggrieved team member to have a constructive conversation with the oversharer about what made them uncomfortable.

Help the employee to rehearse how they would discuss their feelings with their co-worker. Then, agree on what parts of the conversation were acceptable to share, what was inappropriate, and how they will move forward.

Be sure to follow-up with the employee who confided in you. Ask how the conversation went and if they feel the issue has been resolved. While you’re coaching the employee on the process, it’s important to remain hands-off. The two co-workers need to work this out with each other to improve their relationship and improve employee collaboration skills.

To help decrease oversharing before it begins, I conduct an open conversation about what are appropriate issues to share and what might not be. This makes the rules of employee collaboration clear.

Ultimately, you are never going to fully stop human beings from sharing. Interaction is necessary for collaboration. However, we can make clear what is appropriate and what is not. Remember, work friendships are good for retention, engagement, and positive employee collaboration. As leaders, though, it’s our job to watch for negativity and gossip because they’re never energizers.

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Topics: workplace communication, ask dr. sharkey

Human Resources Today