Managing Despite Grapevine Communication
Grapevine is an informal channel of business communication. It is called so because it stretches throughout the organisation in all directions irrespective of the authority levels.

Despite the existence of formal communication channels informal channels tend to develop when people interact and socialise with others. This is a natural process which will never be eradicated and as such managers need to consider how important it is as a means by which to influence and to limit unauthorised communication messages.

Its causes and roots cannot always easily be found and traced but its impact is always felt!

Pros and Cons of Grapevine Communication

Advantages of Grapevine Communication

  1. Grapevine channels carry information rapidly. As soon as an employee gets to know some confidential information, he becomes inquisitive and passes the details then to his closest friend who in turn passes it to other. Thus, it spreads hastily.
  2. The managers get to know the reactions of their subordinates on their policies. Thus, the feedback obtained is quick compared to formal channel of communication.
  3. The grapevine creates a sense of unity among the employees who share and discuss their views with each other. Therefore the grapevine helps in developing group cohesiveness.
  4. The grapevine has an emotional and supportive value.
  5. The grapevine is a supplement in those cases where formal communication does not work.

Disadvantages of Grapevine Communication

  1. The grapevine carries partial information at times as it is more based on rumours. Thus, it does not clearly represent clarity and fullness on any topic.
  2. The grapevine is not trustworthy always as it does not follow official communication channels.
  3. The productivity of employees may be hampered as they spend more time talking rather than working.
  4. The grapevine can promote hostility towards certain groups of staff and managers in particular.
  5. The grapevine may damage collective goodwill through spreading false and negative information that then unsettles staff..

Ideally managers should work towards minimising the importance and impact of the grapevine. Good, open communication will always reduce the importance of the grapevine but it will NEVER be totally eradicated. Particularly skilful managers will use the grapevine to test out opinions, see who is a strong informal communicator and to dispel certain organisational myths by carefully planting their own messages to steer and skew operational, social and collective efforts.

Beware the grapevine at your cost – but use it to your advantage!

Good Luck!

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