Email has become a major problem for almost everyone we meet. We hear people from every client company complaining in every workshop, about how many emails they get, how many of them are unnecessary and how much time they waste managing their email.
A tool that was designed to create efficiency has evolved to the point that it now creates massive inefficiency.
Effectively managing email is a hard nut to crack, because to truly control it you need to change other peoples’ behaviors, in addition to your own. You can have the greatest email behaviors possible, but if all your colleagues don’t and they overwhelm you with tons of needless emails then your behaviors won’t amount to much.
So here are a few ideas that we have seen work with some our client companies.
Create a system of naming emails that will allow the reader to quickly scan and deal with the most important emails, and delay dealing with less important ones. For example, create a titling system that starts with phrases like “Action Required,” or “Action Required Today,” or “Information Only.” And then perhaps add a colon followed by the specific topic covered. Something like this… “Action Required: Top Client Unhappy.” Create whatever list of email titles that work for your company, make them official, and make sure everyone knows about and uses them.
Eliminate or dramatically reduce the propensity to CC needlessly. Far too often, people are CC’d for no reason, or just because the sender is trying to cover his/her own you-know-what. One of our client companies has set up a rule within their email program so that if anyone in company leadership is CC’d, the email is automatically rerouted to a separate folder. And everyone knows the leadership doesn’t read any email unless it is sent directly to them.
Company leadership started calling people out for superfluous email. “Why did you send that to me?” “Was this email necessary?” “Why are you clogging my inbox?” Once leadership begins frowning on bad email behavior, the behavior will start to change pretty quickly.
We waste an unconscionable amount of time managing unnecessary email. And we need new behaviors to create the efficiency the email tool was originally designed for.
Have a great day.