How does your organization handle email communications?

email

 

 

It is not uncommon to have major mishaps and misunderstandings based on poorly thought-out emails. Email is the workhorse of most company communication and, despite the volume of emails you send and receive on a daily basis, you should never lose respect for the power of that communication platform.

An email is composed of the written word. Experts suggest that up to 85% of our perception of communication is through non-verbal cues. These cues are absent in email communication.

While it is not practical to take an excessive amount of time to compose each and every email you send, the following are guidelines that will assist in sending cogent and coherent messages; saving your company time and increasing communication efficiency.

*  Compose a pertinent, brief subject that conveys the content of your message
* Use *confidential or [Action Required], as necessary. This allows the recipient to determine more about the contents of your message without having to read the body text.
*  Keep ‘To’ recipients to a small number and only those that need to take action on the subject
*  Keep ‘Cc’ recipients to only those that really need to be informed.  Don’t copy upper management if they have no action to take or don’t need the update.
*  If the subject is controversial, contains bad news or is addressing a performance issue, don’t send it.  This is better addressed in a conversation so that complete and meaningful communication can take place.  Face to face conversations about sensitive topics minimize misunderstandings, misdirected information, and opportunities to mistakenly include uninvolved parties.
*  If responding to an inflammatory email, type your response and read it multiple times, go to bed and read it again in the morning and then send. Perhaps it doesn’t merit a response or the response would be better addressed in-person.
*  Use appropriate salutations to set the tone. First names are common, but when addressing C-Suite-level individuals, it is not typically advisable.
*  Keep emails short and to the point (Brevity breeds clarity) I prefer to use bullets when listing events, actions, and key points.
*  If you expect a response, let the reader know that. Also include information regarding deadlines.
* Proofread! Reread the email at least once to make sure all spelling and grammatical elements are correct.
* Do not Assume Privacy. Ever. Email can be forwarded and reread by others.  Do not write in an email what you don’t want your mother or your CEO to see.
* Always respond promptly. Nothing is more annoying than someone who takes a week to get back to you. Even if you cannot respond fully right away, let the sender know that.
* Email signatures should be standard in the company. You will typically want to see the name, title, location, and basic contact information included in a professional signature block. Avoid cute sayings, links to surveys, and flowery pictures.

 

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Why write about Leadership?

Ivanhoe - Easton Press EditionI’ve been asked more times than I care to recount: why write another book about leadership? Hasn’t the subject been covered adequately by now? My immediate reply is, “no, otherwise we would see better leaders and less variety in leadership books being purchased, recommended, and read.” To put it simply, Leadership is as rich a topic as you can explore; it involves complex human interactions and springs from theory to practice.

Unlike what Sir Walter Scott wrote to describe the perils of writing solely Scottish novels, explaining that venturing into the realm of English history in his book, Ivanhoe, so he wouldn’t be typecast, to run out of energy or subject material or to have his characters become caricatures was probably true of a field like historical fiction.

“…he was not only likely to weary out the indulgence of his readers, but also greatly to limit his own power of affording them pleasure. In a highly polished country, where so much genius is monthly employed in catering for public amusement, a fresh topic, such as he had himself had the happiness to light upon, is the untasted spring of the desert: but when men and horses, cattle, camels, and dromedaries have poached the spring into mud, it becomes loathsome to those who at first drank of it with rapture; and he who had the merit of discovering it, if he would preserve his reputation with the tribe, must display his talent by a fresh discovery of untasted fountains” (Scott, 1997, p. xiv-xv).

The same cannot be said for the subject of Leadership because leadership is neither time-bound nor bound by geography. It touches us all and can be as difficult to define as loyalty, responsibility or honor.

Attempting to draw a general outline for the practice of effective leadership and then color within those lines may be ridiculed by some, but it is a rewarding endeavor and one that makes the author and the reader better by their efforts.

photo by: Jemimus