I have learned to cherish the grapevine at work. Mary Groves, one of my professors at the University of Nevada, Reno, told my class last semester, “The grapevine is a good thing! Don’t try to kill the grapevine. You never know what you will find out!”

I agree with Mary completely. Managers can utilize the grapevine to find out what employees are talking about and what may be going on when they are away. Some managers may want to stifle the grapevine thinking that it slows production or distracts employees from staying on task. Although that can occur, the grapevine can enlighten many a manager to issues in the office that they never would have known about otherwise.

Managers can also use the grapevine to start up a conversation that would otherwise not occur. Here’s an example: We all know that people are hesitant to accept change. If your company is about to introduce a new software program, you could introduce comments into the workplace such as, “Wouldn’t it be great if the software we have now could do this electronically?” This sparks a conversation, and at the same time you are getting opinions from your employees about what they would like.

A confident manager will embrace the grapevine and not try to stifle it. Curiosity and gossip are the norm in a workplace and managers should utilize this aspect of the workplace, not be afraid of it.