A company’s formal communication network consists of documents such as memos, meeting and conference reports, company newsletters, and official notices. These important documents, however, can quickly become out of date, and they will not give employees all of the information that is available. Thus, the information in these documents should be supplemented by information from the company grapevine. This article discusses how to get that additional information from the company grapevine.
Becoming a part of the company grapevine helps employees to know what is happening in their office and in their company, and this knowledge can be very beneficial. If, for example, there is going to be a layoff, the employees who are well connected to the company grapevine usually will become aware of this information sooner than those who are not so well connected to the company grapevine. Because of this advanced knowledge, employees who are well connected will more quickly become as productive as possible and thus maximize their chances of surviving the layoff. If the advanced knowledge indicates that the layoff will be severe and will affect many employees, the connected employees will start looking for another job. The best time to hunt for a job is when one still has a job.
There are other advantages to knowing what is happening in one’s office and company. Employees who know what is happening will be more likely to achieve better work evaluations and to become promoted.
Being well connected to the office and company grapevine requires establishing social relationships with company coworkers. Such relationships can be begun by chatting informally with coworkers during work breaks or lunches. Happy hours, office sports teams, office parties, carpools, office meetings, and committee work also present opportunities to form social relationships with co-workers. Professional organizations and mentoring relationships are more formal ways to become involved in office and company grapevines.
Although the office and company grapevines give important information to those who are a part of them, this information is not always accurate. Those involved in the office and company grapevine should be aware of the “telephone effect.”
A childhood game gives a demonstration of this effect. Person one whispers some information into the ear of person two. Person two then whispers their interpretation of this information into the ear of person three. The more people there are that relay the information, the more distorted the original information can become. The same effect can occur in office and company grapevines, especially if employees distort information to benefit themselves or their friends. Thus, those who receive information from the office or company grapevine should verify this information before they act upon it or pass it on.
What experiences have you had with office and company grapevines? Please comment below.