EMAIL IS THE MOST used form of communication in business. It’s also one of the sloppiest and unproductive tools we have. According to a study conducted by a knowledge research firm, it takes workers 25 minutes to get on track after an interruption and interruptions equate to 28 percent of a person’s workday, creating $588 billion dollars of wasted company time each year. Email was a primary source of these interruptions. Teams need to set and agree to email policies:
- Avoid Email Addiction: Check email only at certain times in the day and indicate those times in your signature, i.e., “I check and respond to email at 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. each day.”
- Don’t use email to deliver tough news or controversial information: You run the high risk of making the situation worse. Subjects involving corrective action, disappointing or controversial news should always be handled over the phone or face-to-face.
- Prep your reader in the subject line: Share 3 things: 1, Priority level, (FYI, Urgent), 2, the subject (Board Meeting) and 3, requested action date, (end of business Tuesday). For example: Urgent. RE: Request Board Mtg Agenda Items by Tuesday at 5.
- Get to the point: Start your email with the most important information or a request, then provide background. Avoid the long paragraphs.
- Don’t get too informal: Read the email message before you send it. Look for clarity and grammatical mistakes. This will help avoid sloppiness and misunderstandings. Otherwise, you and your company look unprofessional.
When teams control their email-use and follow a set of polices, email is a great communication and productivity tool. When they don’t, email can contribute to team dysfunction, distraction and low productivity.