Don’t get me wrong, I’m the biggest supporter of using email as a means of communicating in the workplace and sure there are many benefits to email communication so long as you define the T&C’s of how such email traffic will be managed. In the corporate world it’s all about managing expectations which in reality is seldom laid out in black and white. This is why I swear by, and strongly advocate transparency and accountability. It sure as hell beats ambiguity and lack of direction.
Here are some tips on how to use email as an effective communication tool in the workplace:
Define the T&C’s for any work directive via email. Items to consider are:
- Who is accountable for delivery/completing the task? A group or an individual. Who takes ownership and is therefore accountable.
- What is required? What resources will be available to get the job done? For example: You might need an extra pair of hands, is this in the budget?
- Why? Answering the why is very important as it puts the task into perspective. By taking the time to explain the why, shows authenticity and gives meaning to the task. Its worth your investment as you reap the rewards of staff showing more engagement/willingness to complete the task.
- When does it need to be done by? Be realistic about the deadline. I’m all for stretch targets but not at the expense of burning your staff out!
Always, always think of your audience and use clear and concise language. You do not want your email misinterpreted by a newly appointed staff member, an apprentice who is still learning the ropes or if your staff member is from a cultural background, you do not want to offend them.
To being clear, transparent and accountable!