Business drastically discounts the interpersonal interaction in favor of group ones. Saying the same thing to ten people simultaneously is more efficient than saying it ten different times to each person. However, this efficiency overlooks two important qualitative, interpersonal aspects:
- People prefer to interact with their leaders one-on-one.
- People enjoy talking about their leaders to others.
In a business setting, presidents, executives and managers, can influence the company’s internal grapevine through dynamic, interpersonal interactions with their employees. The right-hand figure illustrates the reverberation these interactions can create. A leader (blue sphere) interacts with an employee (red sphere) causing him to share his experience (red rings) with the leader with others (green spheres). The challenge is making the reverberation a positive one. Leaders accomplish this by taking advantage of opportunities to employ their personalities.
For example, in a thousand-person, five-floor regional office, a sales representative sold the largest single order for a particular type of product in the fifteen-year history of the office. The Regional President sent the sales representative a congratulatory note.
While a satisfactory response, it demonstrates the dynamic, grapevine opportunity he missed. He could have gone done to the sales representative’s floor and congratulated her personally. Even if she weren’t there, the mere sight of him on the floor would have created positive reverberations. Moreover, while he was there, he would have had the opportunity to interact with other employees creating other reverberations.
Every day, business leaders miss these kinds of opportunities to seize control of the grapevine, to make dynamic gestures. The effort is very similar to a public relations campaign except it’s internal. Instead, business leaders moan and complain about gossip, believing it’s beyond their control, when in actuality they actively make the grapevine work for them.