Noise Amplifiers. These people will pick up a little piece of problem, a little noise, a little breath of restlessness in the air, and will convert into a ‘sky is falling’ issue, a tsunami of anxiety, a high decibel ‘there is something very wrong’. You will recognise these people, they have special aerials and will be loud.
Create a ‘go to source behaviour’ for your behavioural DNA. In front of X, don’t amplify, go to source, find out, make a judgement. It may be translated in ways such as ‘don’t forward that email!’. [This is the equivalent of the Belgium Police asking people not to tweet in the middle of their anti-terrorism operation. And for those who could not handle the deprivation syndrome, they suggested to tweet a picture of a cat instead. Thousands of pictures of Belgium cats were posted. The next day, the Belgium Police said thanks by tweeting a picture of a pet bowl with cat food, in gratitude]
‘It seems that Y department is in trouble. They made a mistake with Z. Everybody is panicking there’.
It may be that you are not interested at all. But if you have noise amplifiers in the system, tomorrow it will be the Apocalypses. If you are interested, go and find out (it turns out that there is no visible trouble), go to source (they never said there was a mistake in Z), talk to real people there (you don’t see any sign of panicking at all).
I have lived many situations over years in my consulting work in which my team and I had to trace back a Big Problem in the North of the Country, to discover that the trails did not take us to any problem, but to three concrete guys out of 200 who were great Noise Amplifiers. From ‘nobody is really doing X’ to ‘actually Peter, Paul and Mary are not doing X’, it was just a fine line, a few decibels difference that started the tsunami.
Bring in the Buffers. People who go to source and decrease noise.
In my experience, Noise Amplifier is not a congenital defect. There may be personality traits in some people, but these are only active ( and amplified) when the organization allows, or even promote, the noise. These behaviours are collective and need the counter-acting. We reinforce the noise by forwarding the rumour, by not thinking critically, and by promoting the Loud Noisers. Also, by allowing long conversations based upon assumptions and gossip, by not stopping pubic remarks that seed uncertainty, by not challenging then.
As leader, don’t allow a high decibel environment. It harms more than the hearing.