Gerry Griffin shot me this story (which features him) on the ineffectiveness of email as a communications tool. Gerry’s onto something here. Email isn’t the problem. Neither is it’s ubiquity or volume.
The problem is that the average employee takes little time to communicate effectively. Or, they haven’t developed the skills. Or, like it has for many, email has become like an arcade game in which we win by shooting the bastards down as they flood our inbox. What is said matters less than the quickness of the finger. This eventually develops into a deep form of gaming addiction in which we have to be ready 24×7 to fire!
Here are eight of my rules:-
1. Do your best to restrict email to a couple of windows every day. Don’t sit there hammering away. Your communications effectiveness generally declines the further you progress through the pile;
2. Use the title bar to headline you email. And make it entertaining;
3. Take the time to write short emails – you know how it goes – didn’t have time to write a short memo so here’s a long one;
4. Use rules to eliminate the junk and sort newsletters and the like into a reading folder;
5. A mentor of mine – Michele Moore of Dell – taught me the trick of the ‘tickler file’. I have one in my directory and drop into it things that can be dealt with later or that need to be chased;
6. Doing both 4) and 5) unclutters your inbox and gives you room to focus of communicating;
7. Never email in anger (do as I say, not as I do…);
8. Clearly articulate the decision or action you require in the first sentence.
Remember – you don’t do email. You communicate.
(btw – Gerry is an ace media trainer – best I’ve seen. I’ve learnt a ton from him.)