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How to Help Employees Communicate by Email More Effectively


 
Email is still considered the primary communication tool in the business world. Today’s business landscape may have shifted further towards video conferences and short messaging platforms, but the majority of formal business communications are still conducted via email. There is no sign of emails being replaced by other means of communication either.

Despite the common use of emails, not all professionals know how to use them properly. This is exactly why we still see mistakes such as incorrectly using CC instead of BCC happening in the real world. As an employer, you can play a more active role in helping employees communicate by email more effectively.

Email-Related Training

Despite the importance of emails, most email etiquette and skills are learned through experience and real-world practice. Sure, there are a lot of resources and websites that specifically share email-related knowledge and tips. That said, very little formal training is provided in school or corporate training programs.You can reduce the number of mistakes your employees make when communicating via email by providing them with such training programs. They are easy to find and will even help employees fine-tune their email content for effective business communication.

It is also a good idea to provide employees with training on the tools available to them. In Outlook, for example, you can sort emails automatically, forward emails with certain marks to other recipients, and even automate everyday email tasks (i.e. adding a calendar entry for meetings and invitations).

The Right Tools for the Job

There are also additional tools designed to really boost email productivity and effectiveness. Customer Relationship Management or CRM platforms, for example, are capable of handling, logging, and documenting email communication. These comprehensive databases enable sales officers to keep track of their conversations with clients without ever missing a beat.

The same can be said for research tools. Let’s say you want your sales team to connect with new potential clients. Provide them with a tools such as The Email Finder to be able to research and verify email addresses. Click here to learn more about email verification can really boost your employees’ email productivity.

Monitoring

Monitoring is always a tricky subject to discuss. Is it ethical to monitor business emails sent from @yourcompany.com email addresses? Ethics debates aside, email monitoring is a proven way of boosting the effectiveness of business emails nonetheless.

As previously mentioned, CMS platforms can now keep track of email communications between sales officers and clients. That simple tracking feature is very valuable when it comes to developing strong relationships with clients since it allows your employees to personalize the tone of the conversation based on past emails.

Tracking also gives you, the employer, a clear picture of how emails are helping the business thrive. This, along with the previous tips we covered in this article, will help you assist employees in using their email addresses more effectively.

StrategyDriven Business Communications Article

Beware ‘Reply All’

StrategyDriven Business Communications ArticleWe actually had an email system at my my first job with IBM in 1986. On day one they sat me down in front of a huge green screen and introduced me to PROFS. “This is your PRofessional OFFice,” they said, “and how we all communicate.”

In those days, email lived on a mainframe and could only be sent when you were actually in front of a mainframe terminal. Actually, it could be sent from any terminal in the whole IBM world, and there were hundreds of thousands of them. In hindsight, that was one of its greatest features. No email at home, no email in the car and no email on the plane. How life has changed.

Another feature that came from being mainframe based was how easy it was to backup and archive everything. Copies were kept—even when you thought you had deleted them. Just ask Oliver North. Congress subsequently examined his PROFS based email archive during the investigation of the Iran-Contra scandal.

Unfortunately, while email was designed to be a productivity enhancer, it has developed into something that is quite the opposite. One of the biggest culprits for this is the ‘Reply All’ option.

When I worked at StorageTek, we had no ‘Reply All,’ or ‘Reply to All,’ as it was known then. Somehow, our CEO discovered a way obliterate the option through Microsoft Office. Whenever I tell people this, they always ask two questions. First—how did he do it? Second—was it a good idea?

If you want to know how to remove ‘Reply All’ from your email, just Google it. The search will yield more than six million results – so it is obviously a highly desired course of action. Most of the advice reveals a step-by-step guide to remove the button from your menu.

But when it comes to whether or not you should do it, that is a harder question.

The reason why it is such a frustrating function is because there are often too many names on an email’s To or CC list. What’s worse? Someone on that list usually also hits Reply All. I do not mind getting company-wide emails, but I do not want to see every question that everyone has on it. We need to help ourselves and others reevaluate the instinct to Reply All.

It is really not hard to do. Before you press Send ask yourself 3 simple questions.

  1. Why am I sending this email?
  2. Why am I sending this email to the people I am sending it to?
  3. What do I want them to do when they get it?

If you do not know why you are sending the email – then do not send it. Often, a simple walk down the corridor or a quick ring on the phone can save many unnecessary emails.

If you do not know why you are sending it to all the people you are sending it to – then do not send it to them. I am not impressed by an email that should not come to me. I do not read them. I delete them. You are not impressing anyone with an email that is not really meant for them.

Finally, think about what you want your email to achieve. If you want something done, then it must appear in the first two sentences of your email. I may never read below that. Emails longer than a page often imply that you haven’t really thought about why you are sending it.

In the end, the convenience of Reply All probably outweighs its misuse. But the misuse is not the button’s fault. Blame the users. We need to have more discipline. We need to think about how, when and what we email.

When we say something to someone and they do not understand what we are saying, we need to find a better way to say it. Email is no different. A colleague’s failure to understand and execute our message often stems from our failure to clearly communicate.


About the Author

NigelDessauNigel Dessau is a nationally award-winning marketing professional with over 25 years of experience leading corporate marketing and communications for several multi-million and billion dollar companies. He began his career by working for IBM, serving customers and partners in the UK. Dessau decided to move to the U.S. following an assignment in New York, where he continued to work for IBM for nine years. Since leaving, Dessau has held senior executive and CMO roles at both private and Fortune 500 companies including StorageTek, Sun Microsystems, AMD, and Stratus Technologies.

Learn more about the 3 Minute Mentor and Become a 21st Century Executive at www.the3minutementor.com or www.nigeldessau.com and connect with him on Twitter at @3minutementor and @nigeldessau.