How many offers for training, coaching and products do you receive in your inbox? I mean – daily?
Are you signed up for newsletters that now you simply pass over or “unsubscribe” from on a regular basis? Do you delete the same emails throughout the day to clear out your inbox, eliminating only those you know are important to your business?
And what the heck does this have to do with internal communications?
Email has weakened the ability to communicate. While it still serves its purpose in a positive way, it has also become another junk dispenser, much like our mailbox. If we’re not careful, we can allow email messages to shape our thinking, suck our time, and rob us of our concentration.
Do you use email as the sole communicator to your employees? There are times when this is unacceptable. For instance, during times of unease, such as layoffs and mergers, a personal face-to-face meeting with your employees is best. They can observe your facial expressions and sense your sincerity when they hear your voice. Email robs us of those expressions.
When using email to communicate with your employees, there are a few things you should keep in mind to ensure they are read:
1. Do have a clear vision of your message
If your vision and goal are well-defined, your message will be too. Know what you want to achieve with the communication. If people have to respond or take action, make that clear. Is there a deadline? The clarity of your message will eliminate follow-up emails for explanations.
2. Do have a brief, but descriptive Subject line
Vague subject lines means the message might not be read, at least not in sufficient time. If your subject lines typically read: reminder, open this, policy, info, etc., it’s unlikely they will be taken seriously.
Make sure your subject lines are clear as to the message your employees will be reading. Such as: Reminder: monthly meeting this Thursday – what to prepare; Important: policy update on office politics; How to prepare for the VP visit. Use “red light” words such as reminder, important, how and why to make the reader pause.
3. Don’t use it as a sole communicator
As mentioned above, there are times, such us during layoffs and mergers, that a face-to-face meeting with your employees is the best strategy.
But other communication tools, such as an internal newsletter and internal employee website, are better avenues for various messages.
Once you determine the type of message that needs to be out there, including your goal and strategy, then you’ll be in a better position to know where it should be posted.
Mixing it up will not only diminish the messages in their inbox, but your email will likely be read if it’s not sent as often.
4. Do keep your message brief
Think about how many emails you receive in a day. If all of them were as lengthy as this blog post, how much work would you achieve? If your employees set aside 30 minutes each day to read and respond to their emails, how many do you think they would get through in that allotted time?
Even if your message is important, keep it simple and brief in an email. You can include a link so the reader can follow up later. But the body of your message should again, be clear, state your purpose and give a description.
Don’t write in circles and get to your objective in the fourth paragraph. Begin with your point: “This message is about our upcoming VP visit and 3 things we need to do to prepare.”
Don’t give background information. That will be your link to the detailed article. Get into the heart of the message.
5. Don’t use it as a means for solicitation
In some businesses, this is a major policy breaker, and yet it happens. This is especially a challenge if the company is a sponsor of an event. Naturally, they will send out reminders of the event and how you can do your part to participate. Even so, keep in mind that solicitation emails are deleted faster than ripping off a Band-Aid®. No one wants to be pressured or feel guilty because they either can’t participate or don’t believe in it for personal reasons.
If you use your email system to solicit, your important emails will end up buried.
6. Don’t email negative news
Keep in mind – emails can be forwarded, even if it’s inadvertent. Have you ever had one of your emails forwarded only to learn later that maybe you shouldn’t have sent it? Or did you send a sensitive email to the wrong person? Whoops! Those accidents can, unfortunately, cost you your job or someone else’s.
Emails should never be used for negative news. The receiver cannot read your tone and it might be misunderstood. Negative news should be delivered in person, as stated earlier. If you can’t deliver it in person, a phone call or Skype chat will suffice, if it’s for an individual. An entire team will need to hear it in person.
7. Do proofread
This cannot be stressed enough, but because so many emails are sent to hundreds of employees, even thousands that contain typos, do check that message.
If you’re going to take the time to make sure your message is on target, you’ve studied your goals, and you know what you seek for results, why on earth would you send a message with distracting typos?
Type your message, then let it rest. Have someone else review it and then review it again for yourself. Read it out loud. Make sure you’ve stated clearly your intent and keep that important, time consuming, thought provoking email free of typos. You know there are typos because your spell check is on and it underlines in red all those mistakes. It doesn’t catch errors that are spelled correctly, though, so give it some thought. Check out this article on what your writing says about your business for more on this subject.
Your typos are also a poor reflection on you. The last thing you want is for people to think you’re lazy and your message was an afterthought. Don’t give them a reason to not take you seriously and disregard future emails.
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