Grapevine communication is an informal channel of business communication. It is called so because it stretches throughout the organization in all directions irrespective of the authority levels.
Despite existence of formal channels in an organization, the informal channels tend to develop when he interacts with other people in organization. It exists more at lower levels of organization. Grapevine generally develops due to various reasons. One of them is that when an organization is facing recession, the employees sense uncertainty. Also, at times employees do not have self-confidence due to which they form unions. Sometimes the managers show preferential treatment and favor some employees giving a segregated feeling to other employees. Thus, when employees sense a need to exchange their views, they go for grapevine network as they cannot use the formal channel of communication in that case. Generally during breaks in cafeteria, the subordinates talk about their superior’s attitude and behavior and exchange views with their peers. They discuss rumors about promotion and transfer of other employees. Thus, grapevine spreads like fire and it is not easy to trace the cause of such communication at times.
Managing Grapevine Communication
The management can use grapevine communication to supplement the formal channels of communication. Though it carries some degree of error and distortion, efforts can be made to correct it. Ignoring the grapevine is nothing but to ignore a valuable source of communication. The management can eliminate its negative consequences and, at the same time, it can nourish its positive benefits. The managers have to learn to manage and control it.
- The management can open up all the channels of organizational communication to present the facts positively before the employees and thereby can fight the negative messages with the positive weapons of facts and figures.
- Better job design and better quality of work life can easily bring the grapevine under the control of the management.
- It also prevents the boredom, idleness and suspicions among the employees.
- The negative consequences of the grapevine can be easily eliminated if the management is successful in creating trust-relationship with the employees.
- The rumors flourish beyond limits when the employees are not well informed by the management regarding the policies, objectives and the work procedure of the organization. The inadequate access to information and the feeling if insecurity is the reasons behind the negative outcomes of the grapevines. The managers must give their employees an adequate access to information and the feeling of security.
- The rumors spread when the situations are unpredictable, unstructured, unplanned and are beyond the control of a person or the persons who are involved in them. Therefore, the best way to manage and control it is to provide accurate and substantial information of the situations to the employees. The managers should pick up the false rumors and dispel them by providing correct information.
- Before taking any decision or action, the managers must consider its possible effects on the informal groups and systems in the organization.
- The management can use the grapevine as a barometer of the public opinions in the organization or to feel the pulse of the employees in a particular situation. This will surely help them to take right policy decisions.
- In the formal activities of the organization, the management should avoid threatening the informal groups, which are responsible in spreading the grapevine effectively.
- The management should find out the people in the informal groups who are more active on grapevine. These people should be accurately and adequately informed so that the false rumors causing excitement and insecurity do not spread among the employees.
- The management should remember that the workplace community is maintained not only by the work itself but also by the informal human relationships. Therefore, the manager should honestly try to integrate their interests with those of the informal groups.
Recommended reading: Grapevine Communication