Valuable Rules of Engagement for Effective Email Communication at Work
Like it or not, email plays a major part in the way we interact at work. Exploring ideas as a team to clarify how to most effectively and efficiently deal with internal email can save everyone time, improve productivity, reduce stress and increase focus. The question is, how do you do that?
What Email Rules of Engagement has Your Team Clarified?
When it comes to email, have you ever wondered what the balance is between efficiency and effectiveness; what level of professionalism is optimal?
Do you add to everyone’s inboxes by sending yet another internal email to acknowledge the email you have just received? Do your extra keystrokes keep you in your inbox longer than needed and is it more efficient not to respond? If you don’t include any pleasantries in your emails to colleagues, will they think you are rude (and does this matter)? With the best intentions of being a collaborative team player, do you reply all on internal emails? Does this seemingly-inclusive approach merely result in more emails for everyone to read and clear?
When working after hours do you immediately send emails with the intention of providing your team with information as quickly as possible and preventing bottlenecks? Or is it more effective to park your after-hours emails to send the next morning, therefore allowing others the appropriate time to recharge?
Is checking work emails after hours demonstrating your commitment and work ethic? Or is it fatiguing, making you less productive the following day and adding to the cultural expectation that we should be on call 24/7? If you have checked your emails after hours and you read an email from your boss, colleagues or client should you respond after hours? Do your email practises differ depending on who is receiving your email?
These are questions you may or may not have pondered and interestingly, there are many right answers that depend on the nature of your work.
Increasing Focus at Work
One of the many ways to enhance our focus and productivity is to discuss with our colleagues how we can best use email. The key is to openly discuss expectations as a team and agree to business rules that will help everyone to find the balance that will enable people to send and receive as few emails as possible whilst still ensuring professional, timely, relevant communication that enables optimal work. Below are a few topics that you might like to discuss as a team.
Productivity Team Discussion Prompts | Email Communication
1. Setting the scene
2. Response times
For our team, what are the optimum response times to emails from:
3. After hours email
4. Communicating high priorities
5. Internal email communication style
Documenting Rules of Email Engagement when Defining Effective Email Communication
After you have met as a team and discussed and explored your discussion prompts, remember to document your findings and include them in your team’s manifesto; your ‘the way we do things around here’ type information. Perhaps you could summarise your email rules of engagement as a succinct one-page infographic and post it in a prominent place in the office.
I invite you to copy from the above list of discussion prompts and use them as part of an agenda for a team meeting. If you do use the prompts and have a team discussion, drop me an email; I’d love to hear how you get on. Interested in iMastery’s productivity and leadership workshops? Leave your phone number and details to get the conversation started.
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