Sunteți pe pagina 1din 17

Working with the organizational grapevine

The 'grapevine' or informal communication network in the organization can have negative effects such as
resentment, embarrassment for managers, distorted messages, rumor diffusion, and subversion of managerial
decision-making. Grapevines develop when employees share common hobbies, lunch schedules, families ties,
common home towns, and social relationships. These informal networks operate quickly, often accurately, and with
resilience. It is suggested that management should utilize the network for its own purposes to complement formal
networks. Management should also be candid about information if possible. Effective screening of employees is
also important. The organizational grapevine is part of the modern business world and has long been considered a
necessary evil of conducting business. Managers typically have done their best to suppress this method of
communication. However, some are beginning to consider it an asset rather than a liability. The grapevine will
remain a part of any assembled workforce, so why not harness its potential to ease communication within the
organization instead of trying in vain to smother it? The grapevine is a valuable means of communication within an
organization; attempts to phase it out are unwarranted and unproductive. The grapevine does not always deliver
information in an ideal manner and is sometimes difficult to manage, but its advantages outweigh its
disadvantages. Therefore, it should be nurtured, not pruned - and management must cultivate it carefully to reap
the greatest benefits for the organization.
The term grapevine Grapevine - A distributed system project.
can be traced back to the United States United States, The United States is the world's third largest
country in population and the fourth largest country in area.
Civil War. Because the battle fronts moved frequently, army intelligence telegraph wires were
loosely strung from tree to tree across battlefields, much like grapevines. Due to the reckless way
the lines were hung, the messages sent over them were often garbled and confusing, leading to
inaccurate communication. Soon, any rumor or unofficial command was said to have been heard
"via the grapevine." It was during this time that the correlation between the grapevine and
inaccuracy began. The grapevine has been an identifiable aspect of American culture ever
since.Three Characteristics of the Grapevine
An informal communication network
known as the grapevine serves a special purpose in the workplace. Employees need a
communication outlet; management should work with it.

All workplaces feature a formal communication network where information passes from upper management to the
employees. This formal network may contain information such as new policies and procedures, upcoming
management changes and upcoming job postings. Although the formal communication system is the place where
management turns to send information, many employees also rely on the informal communication network known
as the grapevine.
Although the grapevine is an informal source of communication, it serves an important place in the workplace.
Employees sometimes see the grapevine as their own communication system, separate from the management
portion of the company. The grapevine has three main characteristics that differentiate it from other
communication systems within the company.
Three Characteristics of the Grapevine

First, the grapevine is not controlled by management. The grapevine is mainly controlled by the employees
themselves. As employees control the grapevine information, sometimes the information may be accurate and
sometimes the information may be inaccurate.
Secondly, most employees perceive and believe that the grapevine contains more reliable information than the
information received from upper management. What employees may or may not realize is that many times the
grapevine contains false information.

Lastly, the grapevine may be largely available to simply serve the interests of the people it involves. Many times,
employees use the grapevine to begin rumors that serve their own interests, with little regard to the people they
By knowing what type of information is flowing through the grapevine, management is able to know
the morale of the organization and identifies issues that may need clarifying among employees.
Finally, the grapevine serves the needs of employees by giving them an outlet for small talk.

What is Grapevine and what is its role in the Communication Network?

An organization is a composite of several individuals working together towards its growth. They are constantly
interacting with each other and with people outside the company. Communication in an organization can be of the
following types:
1. Formal -- a) Internal : i) Vertical (Upward and Downward); ii)Horizontal/Lateral;
iii)Diagonal b) External
2. Informal -- a) Rumour; b) Grapevine
All these different communication types form the communication network in an organization.
Informal communication in an organization usually flows through Grapevine and Rumor. Ideally, the network of
formal communication may be adequate to meet the needs of exchanging information within an organization, but
in reality, this is seldom true. Employees in an organization feel inadequately informed in a formal system. They
often feel that the management uses formal channels to conceal information rather than reveal the real messages to
them. The employees, therefore, modify the formal methods of communication by bringing in an informal
communication system, known as grapevine.
Grapevine is always attributed to a reliable source to make the information sound authentic. News through
grapevine spreads like wild fire, quickly and uncontrollably. This version of information is somewhat distorted and
exaggerateda result of a series of filters used in the process.
The grapevine shows that the management has missed the opportunity of sharing with the employees of the
organization good or bad information that is of interest to them. Hence, the gap in formal communication is filled
up by the informal gossip circulated among employees. These employees form relationships not on the basis of
work but on the basis of certain social factors such as neighborhood, common language, culture, common state,
common club membership, and so on. The groups are formed on the basis of equal friendship and not official
status or relationship.
Normally, the management views the grapevine negatively. For, it undercuts their designs of confidentiality,
secrecy and guarded sharing of information with the employees. However, sometimes the management wants to
take advantage of grapevine for the sake of knowing beforehand the reaction and response of the people who are
going to be affected by a proposed scheme or change. So, before officially announcing a change the managers
deliberately feed the leader of the grapevine communication with the concerned message to be floated around and
watch the employees feedback, reaction and responses. This helps the management firm up the announcement
with modifications in view of the feedback.
In using grapevine, managers have to be very careful. For example, it could be very effective to walk down the
job or indulge in Management By Walking About (MBWA), which involves moving around, chatting and
informally discussing formal matters in an informal way. However, its effectiveness would depend on personal

relationships and the image created by the executive through his official behavior, and other personal attributes
such as frankness, a sympathetic attitude, and a sense of fairness in dealing with people.
It is also essential for the management to follow up the grapevine messages with official written messages and
statements that will verify the accuracy of data obtained from the grapevine. This helps in building a mutual trust
based on open communication followed throughout the organization or business.
Grapevine has several merits as far as the communication network is concerned:

It brings together the workforce in matters of common interest

It helps in passing on the messages at a speedy rate

It helps in generating ideas and expectations that often prove of value to the decision makers and planners
of goals and schemes.

It enhances public relations within an organization.

Grapevine is, therefore, an indispensable part of the entire communication network, especially which which takes
place within an organisation.
A form of communication that is very popular is called grapevine communication. Grapevine
communication applies to all informal communication including institutional information that is
communicated verbally between employees and people within the community. Grapevine
communication is very vital within the organization because it can keep subordinates informed
about important organizational matters, it can give school administrators insights into subordinates
attitudes and can proved subordinates with a safety vale for their emotions. Another important
quality of grapevine communication is that it helps builds morale by carrying the positive
comments people make about the school district or organization.

The corporate grapevine

The corporate grapevine is an invisible flow of rumor, innuendo and speculation. It weaves its way through all
levels of an organization. The grapevine is amply fertilized and fed by a corps of eager gardeners. It grows faster
than weeds after a monsoon rain. And like the weeds that grow in our yards, the grapevine can suffocate the things
we want to grow.
The grapevine is the one communication device in an organization that will never lack subscribers or contributors.
And to the dismay of many an executive, it is the one medium that can't be fully controlled. Properly nurtured, the
corporate grapevine can be a valuable asset. It can help you:
* get a feel for the morale of your organization
* understand the anxieties of your work force
* evaluate your formal communication efforts and see if they are working. Ignore the grapevine or try to kill it, and
it will inevitably lead to:
* low morale
* lower productivity
* misinformation and misunderstanding.


Nachie Marquez, communication and public affairs director for the city of Chandler, Ariz., has been in
organizational communication for 15 years. During that time she has seen her share of grapevine successes and
"I've found that you have to be complete with your information," Marquez says. "If not, employees will fill in the
gaps. Then the story takes on a life of its own."
The things that aren't said often feed the grapevine. For example, Marquez has found that when someone leaves a
job with the city, she must let people know that the person has moved on--even if it's a generic announcement.
"If employees notice one day that a person is gone, they begin to wonder what happened," she says. "It may have
been as innocent as that person taking a job closer to home. But if it's not communicated, people may begin to
wonder if there are organizational changes. If employees don't get the information they want, they go straight to
the grapevine."
Paul Barton, ABC, has been in the employee communication and newspaper fields for more than 20 years. Since
1996, Barton has worked in the communication departments of some of his region's largest and most recognizable
publicly traded companies. He has always kept close watch on his organizations' grapevines.
"It's another form of feedback," Barton says. "It [the grapevine] lets you know if your messages are being
perceived as they were intended."
At one of his companies, Barton and his staff conducted a comprehensive employee communication audit. Their
goal was to see how effective their communication vehicles were and if their messages were getting through. One
of the items Barton included in the survey was the grapevine.
Results showed that 43 percent of employees surveyed always or often relied on the grapevine for information.
When asked if the grapevine was their preferred source of information, only 28 percent answered favorably.
"We found that people want to know what's going on and how it affects them personally in their jobs," Barton says.
"They said their preferred method was hearing news from their manager or supervisor."
As communicators, Marquez and Barton say that it is imperative that they monitor their organization's grapevine.
"You can get a pulse of the organization," Marquez says. "You can find out employees' anxieties and concerns."
"You may think your message is as clear as a bell," Barton says. "But the grapevine will let you know if people
didn't understand it. You then have the opportunity to restate it."
Barton monitors various online message boards, noting that the Internet is fertile ground for rumors and
"It's amazing how high up [in the organization] some of these rumors go," Barton says.
Marquez says her best grapevine sources are administrative assistants. "They are dealing with the entire
organization," she notes.


The best way to keep the rumor mill from spinning out of control is to be up front with as much information as
possible. "Be open and honest with employees," suggests Marquez.
Another recommendation is to find the people in your organization who tend to be the instigators of unauthorized
information (i.e., rumor mongers). These folks are not necessarily ill-willed, they just capitalize on their skill of
starting conversations with "I heard that...."
"They want to be in the know," Marquez points out. "It's best to work with them."
You also can ask your employees how they use the grapevine. When Barton gathered his information, he held
focus groups and conducted formal surveys to obtain statistically valid qualitative and quantitative data.
Every organization has a grapevine. Not every organization uses it effectively.
If you provide comprehensive, honest information to your employees in a manner that is easily understood, it is
likely that your grapevine is filling in small information gaps. This type of grapevine is easy to manage and turns
business leaders into caring gardeners. If the grapevine is your organization's lone source of information, you run
the risk of being out of touch with your employees. You also stand the chance of running into the same fate as
Marvin Gaye in his famous song "I Heard it Through the Grapevine -- you'll lose your lover [employees] to
another. And like Marvin Gaye, you'll be caught by surprise and it will be too late to save the relationship.
Communication can be considered as the bloodline to an organization because it is the most important
aspect of any organization. In comparison to the human body blood is the fluid of life. A major function of the
bloodline in the human body is to transport oxygen to the major organs and carbon dioxide from body tissue to the
lungs. Blood is also the fluid of growth and health. If the bloodline is constricted or stops completely and organs of
the body will eventually began to shut down and stop functioning properly. In the same way communication is the
process that links the individual, the group, and the organization together. If an organization has a breakdown in
communication the system as a whole can be in danger. For example, a principal decides to implement a new
strategic reading program for his school. He looks at the data and realizes that the program will work excellent
with the curriculum thats already in place. He tells all of the English teachers to incorporate the new program into
their lesson plans, but he never clearly explains in detail the new program to them. If the principal fails to
communicate the details clearly to the staff, the plan will have a strong chance of being unproductive or failing
because of the lack of the communication from the principal to the rest of the staff.

Care and feeding of the organizational grapevine.(organizational

A properly managed organizational gravevine can be an effective means of communication and promote the overall
health of an organization. Although the grapevine has poor reputation in conducting business and managers have
attempted to eliminate this mode of communication, some are beginning to recognize it as a valuable asset rather
than a liability. Studies indicate that grapevine information is highly reliable and accurate with transmissions
having a range of accuracy from 75%-95%

Grapevine Communication (Informal Business Communication)

Grapevine 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. Man as we know is a social animal. 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 favour 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 superiors attitude and behaviour and exchange views with their
peers. They discuss rumours 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.
Examples of Grapevine Network of Communication
1. Suppose the profit amount of a company is known. Rumour is spread that this much profit is
there and on that basis bonus is declared.
2. CEO may be in relation to the Production Manager. They may have friendly relations with
each other.

Grapevine Communication
Grapevine communication is the informal communication network within an organization.

The grapevine is used to spread information bypassing the formal communication structure. Just like the grapevine
plant: it spreads in random ways and it goes where it can.
The grapevine is formed by individuals and groups in an organization. The people in the groups have something in
common that links them together.
Grapevine communication:
Grapevine is an informal communication network, which ignores formal channels of communication and spreads
rumors and gossips at all levels of the business organization. Although every business-organization has its formal
channels of communication, the informal channel of communication called grapevine also operates in it. It can be
easily found that a large portion of the communication in almost every business house is not formal or pre-planned.
The employees communicate through informal channels as they do their jobs. It is neither pre-planned nor
deliberately motivated by the management. It is neither written nor documented or recorded. Therefore, it refers to
any communication that takes place outside the prescribed and pre-planned channels of formal business
communication. It is not set with the lines of organizational hierarchy. As it has no set rules and regulations, it is
not confined to a particular direction. It just spreads like a grapevine.
Elements of the grapevine
There are three roles to be filled for grapevine activity to take place:
* Bridgers or hey communicators. These individuals gather information and pass it on to others. These people are
most responsible for the health of the grapevine.
* Baggers or dead-enders. These individuals hear rumors but either do not pass them along or repeat them to other
* Beaners or isolates. These organizational members are outside the grapevine and thus not privy to its messages.
Therefore, they neither hear nor pass along correspondence.

Messages transmitted through the grapevine are normally referred to as "rumors." However, to label a message a
rumor is a simplification. There are actually at least four types of messages:
* Pipe dreams or wish fulfillment wish fulfillment
* Wedge-drivers. These rumors are marked by aggression and animosity As a result, they are characteristically
negative and serve to cleave cleat,
* Home-stretchers. These rumors are initiated in anticipation of final decisions or announcements. They tend to fill
in the gap during times of ambiguity.

The grapevine in business

Webster's dictionary Webster's Dictionary - Hypertext interface. defines grapevine as "an informal person-toperson means of circulating information or gossip." Psychologists G.A. Fine and R.C. Rosnow define gossip as
"small talk with a purpose," and gossip columnist Noun 1. gossip columnist - a journalist who writes a column of
gossip about celebrities
newspaper columnist - a columnist who writes for newspapers Liz Smith Liz Smith may refer to:
Liz Smith (actress)
Liz Smith (journalist)
has added, "Gossip is usually the news running ahead of itself in a red satin dress - it is rumor about to become
fact." No matter how the grapevine is defined, one thing is certain: The grapevine is the informal and unsanctioned
communication network found within every organization.
Organizational members require information to perform their jobs. When information is not transmitted through a
formal system in a timely fashion, the grapevine is called upon to communicate the essential facts throughout the
organization. In fact, most organizational communication Organizational communication, broadly speaking, is:
people working together to achieve individual or collective goals. [1] Discipline History
The modern field traces its lineage through business information, business communication, and early mass
communication consists of person-to-person informal contacts. These contacts are necessary for the smooth
functioning of the organization, and they contribute to improved job performance. Some research has found that
communicatively isolated workers in a large organization have lower job satisfaction, organizational commitment
In the study of organizational behavior and Industrial/Organizational Psychology, organizational commitment is,
in a general sense, the employee's psychological attachment to the organization. , and job performance than their
counterparts who are engaged actively in a communication network.
The grapevine has a discernible structure. In a 1969 Personnel Journal article, Keith Davis Keith Davis (born
December 30, 1978 in Italy, Texas) is an American football free safety for the Dallas Cowboys of the NFL. He was
signed as an undrafted free agent out of Sam Houston State University. described four primary chains of
communication in an organization's grapevine:
* The single-strand chain. A tells B, who tells C, who tells D, and so on. The longer this chain continues, the
greater the potential for alterations to the original message. Consequently, this chain tends to produce the least
accurate messages.
* The gossip chain. A tells everyone he or she comes into contact with. This chain often transmits messages slowly,
as there is only one active disseminator of information.
* The probability chain. A conveys information randomly to C and E. They, in turn, randomly tell others. In this
chain, some in the organization will, by chance, get this information and some will not.

* The cluster chain. A tells those he frequently contacts, C and D. They continue the chain by revealing the
message to those they have close contact with. Selectivity selectivity /selectivity/ (se-lek-tivi-te) in
pharmacology, the degree to which a dose of a drug produces the desired effect in relation to adverse effects.
1. determines the pattern in this chain. As a result, some will not hear the information.
In psychoanalytic theory, the satisfaction of a desire, need, or impulse through a dream or other exercise of the
imagination. . These rumors identify the wishes and hopes of employees. It naturally follows, then, that these
rumors are positive in constitution, yet they still reflect employee anxieties.
* Bogie bogie 1 also bogy
n. pl. bogies
1. One of several wheels or supporting and aligning rollers inside the tread of a tractor or tank.
2. rumors. These rumors originate from employees' fears and concerns and result in a general restlessness within
the organization. Often, these rumors are damaging.
Benefits of the grapevine
The contemporary grapevine has kept its reputation for disseminating unreliable information. However, research
shows that grapevine information is highly reliable and accurate, making this means of communication an asset to
the organization. Studies done by Keith Davis have demonstrated accuracy ratings of nearly 80 percent for many
grapevine transmissions, with a range of accuracy between 75 percent and 95 percent. The grapevine's precision is
not surprising when one considers the origins of its messages. Research has shown that rumors passing through the
grapevine begin as testimonies of an actual event. Thus, someone or some group has witnessed an event and feels
it is worthy of passing on to others in the organization.
Still, people are wary of embracing information gleaned through the grapevine. This is partly due to the grapevine's
poor reputation. Grapevine information is also considered inaccurate because its errors are often dramatic.
Therefore, the mistakes are more memorable than the grapevine's normal daily accuracy. This skepticism is healthy
and contributes to the benefits of the grapevine.
Many people think of the grapevine as an uncensored, "the rest of the story" source of information. As Jack Levin
This article is about the real life professor. For information on the video game character, see List of characters in
the F-Zero series.
Jack Levin, Ph.D. is the Irving and Betty Brudnick Professor of Sociology and Criminology at Northeastern
University in Boston, , Ph.D., professor of sociology at Northeastern University Northeastern University, at
Boston, Mass.; coeducational; founded 1898 as a program within the Boston YMCA, inc. 1916, university status
1922, fully independent of the YMCA 1948.
..... Click the link for more information., put it, "If you want to know about the kind of insurance coverage your
employer offers, look in the company handbook. But if you want to know who to avoid, who the boss loathes or
loves, who to go to when you need help, what it really takes to get a promotion or raise, and how much you can
safely slack off, you're better off paying attention Noun 1. paying attention - paying particular notice (as to
children or helpless people); "his attentiveness to her wishes"; "he spends without heed to the consequences"
attentiveness, heed, regard to the company grapevine."

Probably the best feature of the grapevine is the timeliness of the message it carries. Its speed of transfer is far
faster than messages coming through formal channels, partly because formal communication has traditionally been
written in the form of memos, reports, and newsletters.
Since formal communication channels tend to transmit information slowly, gaps between the time information is
needed and when it arrives are common. As a result, formal networks tend to be inadequate for handling unplanned
communication requirements, for competently transmitting complicated or detailed information, or for sharing
personal information.
The grapevine, on the other hand, thrives on quicker word-of-mouth conversations. And although electronic
communications have made the formal methods of interaction faster, they have made informal means of conveying
information even swifter. Because the grapevine is fast, it can serve as an early warning system for members of an
Knowing this, management sometimes purposely purposely
With specific purpose.
on purpose
USAGE: See at purposeful.
Adv. 1. sends messages through the grapevine to test the waters, allowing individuals to plan for and ponder
formal statements to come. This may give employees the opportunity to provide input to senior management
before final decisions are made. Thus grapevine timeliness often gives employees a chance to become more
participatory, which is known to enhance an organization. These advantages are particularly beneficial when bad
news will be coming through formal communication channels.
Another advantage of the grapevine is that it can transmit messages in a multi-directional manner. Unlike the
formal communication network, which follows a highly rigid, linear path from supervisors to subordinates, the
grapevine can leap from department to department and jump between various management levels. It moves up,
down, horizontally, vertically, and diagonally in an organization at an incredible pace.
Furthermore, the grapevine can serve as an outlet for stress release. Subordinates frequently need an opportunity to
let off steam but are unable to do so through formal communication lines, fearing embarrassment or repercussions
repercussions npl rpercussions fpl
repercussions npl Auswirkungen pl . The grapevine provides them a way to share their personal opinions and
Another important aspect of grapevine messages is their personal nature. Instead of impersonal, faceless
transmissions via the formal communication networks, the grapevine frequently facilitates enjoyable face-to-face
interactions between co-workers. Research suggests that subordinates prefer to get their information in this
manner. While this is not always possible, a healthy grapevine makes it more likely.
One other positive aspect of the grapevine is its immunity to time constraints In law, time constraints are placed
on certain actions and filings in the interest of speedy justice, and additionally to prevent the evasion of the ends of
justice by waiting until a matter is moot. . While the formal communication network typically starts up at 9 a.m.
and shuts down at 5 p.m., the grapevine is in effect nearly 24 hours a day. It begins in. the morning in car pools on

the way to work and may last late into the night through company softball softball, variant of baseball played with
a larger ball on a smaller field. Invented (1888) in Chicago as an indoor game, it was at various times called indoor
baseball, mush ball, playground ball, kitten ball, and, because it was also played by women, ladies' teams, golf
games, or bowling leagues.
Finally, the grapevine serves as an index of organizational health, morale, trends, and productivity. The grapevine
can spotlight issues and problems important to an organization. Effects of policies and procedures Policies and
Procedures are a set of documents that describe an organization's policies for operation and the procedures
necessary to fulfill the policies. They are often initiated because of some external requirement, such as
environmental compliance or other governmental often can be measured with informal communication. Also, it
seems that organizations with strong formalized formalize
tr.v. formalized, formalizing, formalizes
1. To give a definite form or shape to.
a. To make formal.
b. structures that inhibit communication outside these structures may benefit from an active grapevine that
supplements formal channels of communication. Indeed, this informal communication network seems to blossom
when certain common denominators common denominator
1. Mathematics A quantity into which all the denominators of a set of fractions may be divided without a
2. A commonly shared theme or trait. exist in organizations. If formal channels are rigid and narrow, if vital
intelligence is kept from employees, if an overabundance overabundance
A going or being beyond what is needed, desired, or appropriate; an excess: teenagers with an overabundance of
energy. of free time is allowed to subordinates, or if employees feel the pressures of job insecurity, be assured that
the grapevine will be very active.
Potential pitfalls
As mentioned earlier, grapevine information tends to be accurate 80 percent of the time. This means there is at
least a 20 percent inaccuracy factor. Nearly all the information passed along the grapevine is undocumented, and
thus is in a prime position to be altered and misinterpreted as it flows. The central theme is usually resistant to
severe alterations, but critical details are eliminated constantly in a process known as "leveling." The most
dramatic details are "sharpened" - hyped up hyped up
Old-fashioned slang stimulated or excited by or as if by drugs - each time the message is recycled. And details are
sometimes adjusted to correspond with the prior attitudes and experiences of the participants in a process called
"assimilation." Together, leveling, sharpening, and assimilation have the potential to alter the facts significantly.
Nevertheless, the correspondence is still grounded in the truth and remains an important vehicle for
Electronic communication such as "cybergossip" (gossip through the computer) has made the grapevine an even
faster means of communication. Though a potential advantage, cybergossip is often misinterpreted because it is
flat: no voice inflection inflection, in grammar. In many languages, words or parts of words are arranged in
formally similar sets consisting of a root, or base, and various affixes. Thus walking, walks, walker have in
common the root walk and the affixes -ing, -s, and , no room for subtleties of language. It may be more difficult to
tell whether someone is making a joke, being sarcastic sarcastic

1. Expressing or marked by sarcasm.

2. Given to using sarcasm.

[sarc(asm) + -astic, as in enthusiastic. , or passing on the gospel.

Like cybergossip, another modern-day phenomenon has changed the nature of the grapevine: The new generation
of workers seems to disdain it. Historically, most baby boomers See generation X.
..... Click the link for more information. (those born between 1946 and 1964), as much as they deny it, believe in
playing office politics and do their utmost to become proficient in this area. Conversely, the younger generation of
employees takes offense to those proficient at politics and feels sorry for those who seek mastery in it. This present
attitude could be a major blow to the informal communication network as it now stands. In fact, these "baby
busters baby buster also baby-buster
A member of a baby-bust generation.
Noun 1. baby buster - a person born in the generation following the baby boom when the birth rate fell
buster " or "generation Xers" (those born between 1965 and 1977) seem to prefer that crucial messages be
presented one-on-one by supervisors - if not in person, then by voice mail or e-mail. Thus, they are ultimately
unwilling to tap into the grapevine for information.
Another potential problem with the grapevine is the threat of legal action arising from inaccurate rumors traveling
this network. Many organizations have been defendants in legal suits arising from false information circulating in
the workplace. Lawsuits based on defamation defamation
In law, issuance of false statements about a person that injure his reputation or that deter others from associating
with him. Libel and slander are the legal subcategories of defamation. Libel is defamation in print, pictures, or any
other visual symbols.
..... Click the link for more information., fraud, invasion of privacy invasion of privacy n. the intrusion into the
personal life of another, without just cause, which can give the person whose privacy has been invaded a right to
bring a lawsuit for damages against the person or entity that intruded. , harassment Ask a Lawyer
Country: United States of America
State: Nevada
I recently moved to nev.from abut have been going back to ca. every 2 to 3 weeks for med. , emotional distress
emotional distress n. an increasingly popular basis for a claim of damages in lawsuits for injury due to the
negligence or intentional acts of another. Originally damages for emotional distress were only awardable in
conjunction with damages for actual physical harm. , and disability discrimination have all taken place because of
grapevine inaccuracies (Zachary, 1996).
Implications for leaders
As the previous section indicates, the grapevine is not all pinot noir.
. It is no wonder many managers feel they must attempt to silence the grapevine in order to avoid the problems just
mentioned. But the potential for using the grapevine advantageously is well documented. To ensure that the
grapevine remains primarily an asset and minimally a liability, there are some ground rules that management must

follow in order to foster an effective, healthy environment for the grapevine to operate.
* Accept that the grapevine exists and has the potential to add value to the organization. Management must not try
to eliminate it - they did not hire it and they cannot fire it.
* Acknowledge the fact that the grapevine must, for the most part, remain unrestrained. If management tries to take
control of it, they do not allow it to operate effectively and it ceases to provide its potential benefits.
* Do not underestimate the grapevine's power or value to the organization. Ignoring the grapevine can do more
harm than good, and managers cannot afford to attempt to escape putting the necessary effort into managing it.
* Become part of the grapevine rather than remaining a passive observer. If the main concern about the grapevine
is false information, being privy to grapevine messages will allow management to monitor them most effectively.
If management chooses to ignore the grapevine, they fail to use its potential. In fact, the grapevine can serve as a
vital mechanism in the "management by wandering around" approach. This philosophy suggests that when
managers wander around the workplace without any particular objective, they are likely to pick up highly relevant
information. This is information that may never have become available if the manager stayed in his or her office all
day or communicated only in the normally structured manner.
* Maintain activity within formal communication channels. The grapevine is not a substitute for formal
communication, but it can be an effective supplementary tool when fostered properly.
* Encourage organizational members to question and assess grapevine exchanges prior to responding to them. This
will help keep the grapevine from becoming a facilitator of false rumor.
The grapevine is alive and well. In the past, such a statement would have made management cringe cringe
intr.v. cringed, cringing, cringes
1. To shrink back, as in fear; cower.
2. To behave in a servile way; fawn.
An act or instance of cringing. , since the grapevine was often perceived as an impediment A disability or
obstruction that prevents an individual from entering into a contract.
Infancy, for example, is an impediment in making certain contracts. Impediments to marriage include such factors
as consanguinity between the parties or an earlier marriage that is still valid. to organizational well-being.
However, research, in addition to verifying the existence of a vibrant grapevine, supports the idea that an active
grapevine correlates positively with a well-functioning organization. Organizations need a constant, consistent
flow of information in order to operate in today's dynamic environment. Formal channels of communication are
often unable to keep up with this informational demand. The informal communication network, the grapevine,
picks up the slack and keeps organizations moving forward rather than stagnating.
No medium of communication is perfect, and the grapevine is no exception. It must be managed correctly to yield
positive results. However, the cost of this management is well worth the effort when one considers what the
grapevine can provide an organization: the fast, timely, and relevant flow of information from those who have it to
those who need it.


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. Thus, grapevine helps in developing group cohesiveness.
4. The grapevine serves as an emotional supportive value.
5. The grapevine is a supplement in those cases where formal communication does not work.

Tell it to the grapevine: to get the word out, no other medium

communicates news more quickly
A smart manager should take care of all the disadvantages of the grapevine and try to minimize them. At the same
time, he should make best possible use of advantages of grapevine.
Importance of Grapevine in business scenario:
Though the structure of the grapevine is not so well defined, as that of the formal channels, it should not be taken
for its weakness. The messages flowing through grapevine have greater speed than that of the messages flowing
through the formal channels. The grapevine may carry equally vital message through it for the achievement and
success of the organization. It is not correct to underestimate the grapevine by saying that the vital messages pass
only through the authorized, formal channels. On the other hand, though the formal channels are systematic, preplanned and documented, it is authority-laden. It can never be as speedy and spontaneous as the grapevine. The
employees communicate through grapevine, not because they are compelled to communicate but because they
earnestly want to communicate with their associates.
The method of formal written communication is slow and expensive method of information transmission. The
grapevine, on the other hand, is non-expensive method and most-rapid oral method of transmitting the information
to the maximum number of the communication receivers. The grapevine can flow wherever the participants wish it
to flow, therefore, the manager can use the properly cultivated grapevine in dealing with the problems that require
crossing the boundaries between the departments.
Grapevine originates from the psychological need of the employees to talk about their jobs and their associates as
the subject of their main interest. The absence of grapevine surely creates the dull, sick and unfriendly atmosphere
in the business organization. Grapevine is also described as the barometer of public opinion in the organization. If
the manager is sensitive to it, he can gather information about the ideas, opinions, attitudes and interests of the
The grapevine gives an opportunity to the employees to let off the suppressed air of anxiety, worries and
frustration. When they talk about their associates, they get emotional relief. The fact that the employees talk about
their associates or that they have the interest in their associates is a proof of the high morale. Thus, the grapevine
not only promotes unity, integrity and solidarity of the organization but it also helps to raise the morale of the

Advantages of Grapevine Communication

Grapevine communication creates a social bond where none existed. People like to talk to one another; whether
they talk about work or family, or anything. Teams become more cohesive when members talk to one another
outside of the project or assignment they may be working on. Informal communication lends itself to bonding.
The grapevine fills in a gap that is left when official information is missing. Even in organizations where
management is very proactive about keeping employees informed, the grapevine helps to fill in the blanks.
The grapevine in many ways helps keep people honest; it can dissuade people from engaging on behavior that
they dont want others to know about. This is a two edge sword. On one hand, people will think twice about taking
what they know is a wrong course of action. On the other hand, they may also think twice about taking a necessary
risk and doing the right thing, fearful that appearances that may give rise to rumors.

Limitations of Grapevine

The grapevine may carry some degree of error in it.

The baseless, imaginary and non-factual messages may prove harmful to the organization.

Often the employees feed the grapevine with self-serving information. They add to the facts
rather than simply report.

The grapevine often carries incomplete information, which leads to misunderstanding of the

The communicator does not take the responsibility of the message.

Sometimes the grapevine spreads the message so swiftly that it causes damage to the

Grapevine is undermining internal communications

By: John Bradfield
Many employees are relying on the grapevine for important company information despite millions
of rands being spent on internal communications.
"Pssst... do you want to hear what's going on? Let's go to the water cooler where no one can hear
us talk." If you work in a big organisation, you'll most likely recognise this conversion. It occurs
every day somewhere in company corridors where management still needs to appreciate why it's
important to let employees know what's going on.
Despite a proliferation of internal communications media in the modern office environment and
leadership mantras that implore managers to communicate with employees, the grapevine is often
the main source of news that touches on what's really going on. The grapevine grows especially
when top management tries to keep a lid on what it considers to be "sensitive" information. It's
concerning because the grapevine, although a rapid carrier of "news", is generally unreliable as a
source as information is passed on from person to person. Grapevine generated news can possess
the bias of the person who broke ranks from the inner circle to spread their version of the "truth'.
People working in smaller companies or even retail shops with a few employees may sneer at big

companies where the grapevine is so prevalent. You'd think communication would be more rich and
frequent in smaller businesses but it's not a given. Often employees in smaller firms are starved of
information because the boss keeps things close to the chest and sees no need to keep employees
The possible reasons why many employees are still relying on the company grapevine include
power, politics, unwillingness to manage sensitive news and sometimes not knowing any better.
But one might ask, "Why does the grapevine flourish when companies today employ internal
communications staff?"
Part of the reason involves company culture. Where there is support for common understanding,
shared beliefs, and innovation information tends to flow more freely. In companies where a culture
of mistrust prevails, open communication is undermined. In short, there's no engagement with
We've all heard the stories about companies keeping a lid on key developments in an organisation
(especially when it can spell bad news): a key executive resigns, a company subsidiary is being
sold, or there is an unpopular change in company policy. Company executives hold out for so long
on making an announcement that employees start scavenging the corridors for scraps of
information. Employees huddle together to make sense of what's going on. They are forced to draw
their own conclusions about the reasons for what's going to happen or has happened. Perceptions
about the company withholding information are often more damaging than providing the "negative"
news in the first place.
The grapevine flourishes where upper management clings to half-hearted attempts at real
communications with employees. I remember working for a large conglomerate where there was a
power war between communications and Human Resources who wanted to run the house journal to
start their own "vanity publishing". Though their attempted takeover bid failed their continual
interference did not help with the release of information that employees would find to be credible.
At another company the grapevine was institutionalized because the reclusive CEO only channeled
his rare messages through a rather self-serving staff newsletter. Employees were starved of
Then there was the company that announced changes to company policy without prior consultation
with employees. When announcements were made some employees were suspicious about the
change, others rejected it, and yet others did not understand the change. No face-to-face group
meetings were held to explain the change so the grapevine became the educator.
In these situations, hardly favourable to support a winning culture, where information is massaged
or ignored reliance on the grapevine grows. This results in lost revenue. Poor internal
communication is a real cost to the company with lower morale, reduced productivity, increased
stress (reduced well-being), poor internal image (which leads to poor external image), lower quality
and poor service.
I need to balance these bad apples with a few examples of where companies have excelled at
internal communication. A fishing company ran a road show for all employees on their BEE (black
economic empowerment) status to even their most remote and smallest operations so all
employees could understand the new development. Another company held a meeting with all

employees of a small acquired company to ensure that everyone understood the culture of the
company and what was expected. Employees were welcomed in a personal way and made to feel
part of the new company. In another instance, a campaign was devised to inform all employees
about the need for their company to be divested from a holding company. Question and answer
sheets, personal presentations and a proper farewell all helped to reduce the uncertainty and
smooth the transition.
In most companies the solution to reducing use of the grapevine rests squarely with top
management who need to believe in the importance of open and regular communication. They
need to understand and support company wide internal communications. Cross-functional teams
involving communications, HR and marketing can help provide a unified approach to internal
communication. Communications people also should not be afraid to speak up and talk to
executives to let them know what the key issues are and why prompt and open communication is
Internal communications is not easy but without mature openness and respect for employees' need
to know corridor talk will prevail. Executives need to be equipped to deal with the communication
that is required during internal crises - fraud, threats, tragic accidents, hostile takeovers, and
strikes. They must know how to communicate "bad" news rather than shy away from it or try to
suppress or censor it.
New attitudes are required so that employees are provided with information they need to
understand important developments in their company or to carry out their work. Knowledge of the
dynamics of interpersonal communication and use of new internal media (intranets, blogs, sms
messaging, and video conferencing) can also help towards employees receiving information as
direct as possible from executives rather than hearing a distorted version from the grapevine.

Disadvantages of Grapevine Communication

There are some intrinsic dangers in bypassing the organizational channels to get to the facts of the
matter. The main danger is that much of the information that gets spread through the grapevine is
not verified. Some of the information is likely false and difficult, if not impossible, to verify.

We discount information when the source is a known gossiper. But not completely... Even when the source is
someone known to spread rumors, we believe that where there's smoke... Since we dont know what part is fire and
what is smoke, we take in the whole rumor. To justify our participation in spreading the rumor, we tell ourselves
that part of it must be true. The main reason why we give credence to a rumor is that it seems to match what we
think about the situation or person that the rumor is about. We also tend to believe the person sharing the rumor
with us.
Another main disadvantage of grapevine communication is that it's often used to spread more than rumors; it's used
to spread gossip.
The terms rumors and gossip are used sometimes interchangeably, but rumors are not quite the same as gossip.
Both are pieces of information that can't be verified, but rumors tend to affect organizations or groups of people,
while gossip refers to more personal matters.
When gossip is being spread through the grapevine, people's reputations, careers, and lives can get destroyed very
For a related article

Despite its disadvantages, the grapevine can serve a purpose.

Bottom Line
Grapevine communication is part of the workplace, it can't be eliminated. Recognizing its pros and cons can help
you use it to your advantage.