Three main characteristics of a grapevine:
- First, it is not controlled by management.
- Second, it is perceived by most employees as being more believable and reliable than formal communiqués.
- Third, it is largely used to serve the self-interests of those people within it.
The grapevine is an important part of any group or organization’s communication network and well worth understanding. It identifies for managers those confusing issues that employees consider important and anxiety-provoking. It acts as both a filter and a feedback mechanism, picking up the issues that employees consider relevant. By assessing which liaison individuals will consider a given piece of information to be relevant, we can improve our ability to explain and predict the pattern of the grapevine.
Research indicates that rumors emerge as a response to situations that are important to us, where there is ambiguity, and under conditions that arouse anxiety. Management cannot eliminate rumors, but it can minimize the negative consequences.