Organization Grapevine

This is common to all organizations. Sometimes the management themselves leak information to observe the reaction of employees before implementing what they want to do.

You must have heard the bad news… the economy’s going through bad times and its impact on the Indian Industry is all too evident. The papers are reporting about mass layoffs and you are hearing rumors of your company not doing too well either. Frankly, it is making you jittery and you are wondering whether you should quit before the company goes down. Well, hold on you need to stay calm. Here is what to do when you hear such rumors:

Be well-informed: There will always be someone in your office who will make dire predictions about the company. You will keep hearing about the finance head asking for a list of employees. But you can try and get the real picture. Read the papers or surf the websites for information on how  your industry is performing in present times and how it will do in the near future. Your company’s position and share market in the industry will give you a fair idea of where your job stands.

Check out your company’s history of hiring and firing:
Has your company fired employees in bad times before? Or is it known to protect its human resources and try to accommodate extra employees wherever possible? No company likes to sack employees without reason, mainly because it is known to demoralize the ones left behind and encourage gossip-mongering. Speak to your colleagues who have worked with the company for a long time.

Don’t indulge in too much gossip:
We know it is natural to get into a huddle and discuss the industries so called problems every few hours. But frankly, the more you listen to such rumors the more stressed you will get. The Chinese whispers always make the situation sound worse than it really is. Don’t react to anything unless you have seen or heard it yourself.

If in doubt, talk to someone responsible:
Speak to someone sensible in your office who can give you a matter–of-fact picture instead of dire predictions. Also keep your eyes and ears open. Check your immediate boss and chief financial officer or human resource manager for non-verbal cues like stress or dejection.

Don’t give knee-jerk reactions:
Don’t start sending out your CV to consultants just because you have heard your company isn’t doing too well. Only rats quit a sinking ship first. Of course, if the rumors are really bad, you can be prepared by surveying your options in other industries or by talking informally with placement consultants about the situation. But no need to resign in a panic before you are asked to leave or just because you suspect your increment and variable pay is in jeopardy. As we all know, in turbulent economic weather, a job in hand is better than two offer letters.

Deal with problems:
With success comes jealousy followed by nasty rumors. Spreading rumors is a way to express jealousy aggressively. But that doesn’t mean you lose your head and succumb to aggressive methods too. Instead, try and find out the source of the hateful rumors. Once you know who started them, confront the person directly, but calmly and in private.

Tell that person that you have heard that s/he started a rumor about you, which is very upsetting and untrue. Most people, when confronted in such a dignified manner, feel horribly guilty and apologize for what they claim is a misunderstanding. But remember, this person is a gossip monger so be sure about all that you say when you talk to him/her. It may probably be transmitted to the rest of the office. And be polite when you tell him/her not to repeat it.

The grapevine theory is applicable even at the department level. You hear someone is getting promoted during the performance appraisal period. It must not put you down to do negative work or go slow in your work or take a drastic decision of leaving the present job. It may so happen that you may get promoted and all your efforts are rewarded.

This can happen at all levels even the MD’s level. So one should not comment on rumors except listening to them and wait until the truth comes out.

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