Is email the only way? We now have an array of digital communications from social media to the phone. Last week a client complained at being emailed by another colleague who sat just five desk away. How often does this happen to you? We have a love hate relationship with email: its fast and easy but not always the best communications channel. An over dependence on email at the expense of other channels is one of the primary causes of email overload. Yet how many of us make the effort to think outside the inbox before hitting send.
Very few judging by many of my client’s experiences. However, some leading organisations are being innovative and for example banning all internal emails and having no email days in an effort to both reduce email overload and improve communications. These range from high-tech companies to housing associations and architects. Others are setting boundaries outside which its OK to stop checking emails.
My email behaviour will influence your behaviour here are three ways to encourage others to think outside the inbox.
1. Provide an incentive for them to talk to you.
2. Use an alternative tool to provide information which people really need, for example the form for requesting leave, a sales update, for example OneNote, a collaborative platform such as Slack or Yammer.
3. Implement email free times and email free office zones.
To reduce the email dependency (and even email addiction) above all else make sure you create the role model: next time you are about to hit send, get up and walk and talk to the person. Try responding to external email with a phone call? You might be pleasantly surprised at the extra information you pick up to help progress that important sale.
Indeed stopping checking emails is fast becoming the new stop smoking for some.
A few days ago the NHS email server ground to a halt as one person hit Reply All to a test email. Who was at fault the sender or the recipient? There are many who feel the Reply All button should actually be removed from all email programmes. Is this a sledge hammer to crack a nut? Or is it more about applying modern business email etiquette and maybe alternative technologies.
For many hitting Reply All is done purely for egotistical reasons, eg to cover their backside, demonstrate their cleverness in finding a fault with what the sender is saying. For others it is stupidity, because they know no better, no one has every explained properly the difference between Reply and Reply All and under which circumstances such business email etiquette is or is not acceptable.
The organisation too maybe at fault for not having clearly understood principles of email best practice. Yes, they are probably in the big tome called Company Policy, but how many of us read it after our Induction Course. Indeed Induction Courses are often simply a breeding ground for chronic attacks of information overload designed to make you forget all common sense.
Reply All can also be either pure laziness or a result of responding too fast without thinking through who really needs to see your response.
Clearly, there are times when Reply All is needed, the obvious one being during an email conversation, although again one might ask if email is really the right medium.
Here are seven easy ways to avoid such Reply All disasters like the recent NHS case.
For both sender and recipient
Reply All disasters can be avoided by adopting sound email etiquette and making sure everyone understands them. Using the email software too and looking outside the inbox to alternative technologies/medium can help manage the potential for such disasters.
Are you are subject to the unnecessary Reply All culture? Call us and ask about our Smart Email management masterclass specially designed to improve performance and reduce the scope for such expensive disasters.
Hilary Clinton used a personal email account rather than her White House one. Now 10 Downing Street admits to automatically deleting its emails after 90 days. As a result some are suggesting that instant electronic messaging systems which self-destruct are the solution like SnapChat and Slack. But are they?
For any technology to succeed and add value to the business, requires that users are properly trained. Sadly though, normally 80% of our time and budget is spent on the technology and its implementation and only 20% on providing the user with adequate skills to use it properly.
How many of you have ever been educated to mange your use of email, little own deploy good email etiquette which would reduce the need to email ping-pong and email gaffs. In Mesmo Consultancy’s experiences it is less that 20%. So little wonder we often find ourselves confronted with consequences of an email we wish we had never sent.
It is naive to think that we can delete an email. Once sent it is there for ever, either stored on a server as News International and Sony Corporation found to their dismay, or still in the recipient’s inbox. Far better is to adopt slow and quiet email. Think before hitting send. Reflect and ask yourself ‘what if someone found this email’.
Without proper training and a change in organisational culture instant electronic messaging communications systems (like Slack and SnapChat) will be doomed to the same failure and disasters as our current version of email.
Need help to change your email culture to make it work for, rather than against you? Call Mesmo Consultancy to hear how our email training has has helped others. Alternatively, watch our video on email etiquette.
Tags: 10 Downing Street, Deleting emails, email culture, email etiquette training, Email gaffs, Email ping-pong, Email training, Hilary Clinton, Mesmo Consultancy, News International, Slack, SnapChat, Sony Corporation