The Grapevine

There’s a grapevine in your organization or on your team for a reason. You know the grapevine, right? It’s that informal undercurrent of what people are (or aren’t really) saying in hushed tones to others. You know your organization’s grapevine is alive and well when you regularly hear folks start their questions or comments to you or others with “I heard through the grapevine that….”

This grapevine is one well-informed vine fruit. I mean, really, the grapevine seems to have so many well-informed sources, doesn’t it? Sources in the know. Sources that must be somehow invisibly sitting in on executive team meetings and private conversations. Want to know the secret, hidden, Illuminati-fueled truth about your organization? Find the grapevine.

Not so excited about the grapevine? Well, I have good news, and I have bad news. Bad news first: there’s always going to be a grapevine. Good news: it’s as strong or as anemic as you make it.

You see, the grapevine is strongest when communication and trust are the weakest. The flip side of the coin, of course, is that when communication and trust are strongest, the grapevine is weakest. I mean, think about it–often folks who start their sentence with “I heard through the grapevine” often then say or ask about some of the most outside-the-realm-of-possibility stuff; yet since they heard it through the (not really) trustworthy grapevine, they’ll repeat it. Often with a straight face! And no matter how many times you tell someone that what they heard through the grapevine isn’t true, they’ll continue clinging to it. Why? You can be pretty sure there are communication and/or trust issues within the team.

So as you look around your team, if the grapevine is alive, well, and growing all over everything, you can know you need to be really digging into your team’s communication and trust issues.

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