Grapevine is an informal channel of business communication. It is so named because it extends throughout the organization in all directions irrespective of authority levels. We all know that man is a social animal.When he interacts with other people in an organization, informal channels often develop despite the existence of formal channels. In lower levels of an organization, informal channels are more common. The grapevine usually develops for a variety of reasons. The employees of an organization may feel uncertain when it is facing a recession.
Sometimes employees lack self-confidence, which leads them to form unions. It is not uncommon for managers to show preferential treatment to some employees, creating a sense of segregation among other employees. Since employees cannot use a formal channel of communication when they feel a need to exchange ideas, they turn to the grapevine network. The subordinates usually discuss the attitude and behavior of their superiors during break times in the cafeteria, and they exchange views with their peers. Other employees are usually discussed about promotions and transfers. It is not easy to trace the cause of grapevine communication at times, as it spreads like fire.
Example of Grapevine Communication
- Assume the profit amount of a company is known. There are rumors that profit will be this much, and bonus will be given on that basis.
- Perhaps the CEO is related to the Production Manager. It is possible that they have friendly relations.
Advantages of Grapevine Communication
1. Grapevine channels transmit information rapidly. As soon as an employee learns about some confidential information, he becomes inquisitive and passes it on to his closest friend who then passes it on to others. This enables it to spread quickly.
2. Managers have the opportunity to hear what their subordinates think about their policies. Therefore, feedback is obtained more quickly than through formal channels of communication.
3. Employees share and discuss their views through the grapevine, which creates a sense of unity among them. This fosters group cohesiveness.
4. It provides emotional support to the group.
5. If formal communication does not work, the grapevine can be a supplement.
Disadvantages of Grapevine Communication
1. Grapevine information is sometimes partial since it is based more on rumours. Therefore, it cannot give a complete picture of the situation.
2. Grapevine is not always reliable since it does not follow official channels of communication and is more spread by rumors and unconfirmed information.
3. Spending more time talking rather than working may decrease the productivity of employees.
4. The grapevine leads to making hostility against the executives.
5. There is a possibility that the grapevine can hinder the goodwill of an organization by spreading false negative information about its high level people. Smart managers should consider all the disadvantages of the grapevine and try to minimize them. In addition, he should take advantage of grapevine’s many advantages.
Grapevine Communication Quiz