Emails… you know those things that relentlessly pile up in your inbox providing you important job-related information, that endless portal for your boss and coworkers to request things and share information whether you want it or not, that technological wonder that spams you to death, and that thing you check religiously for hours on end Monday through Friday. I believe most things have a positive and negative… and my rule is to live in the positives and manage the negatives. So, as a leader, how do you do it?
E. – Ever-Growing List!
As a Professional Speaker and Leadership Trainer, I often joke about having been The World’s Best Employee at one point in my life… and The World’s Worst Employee at one point in my life… all at the same job nonetheless! In one of my “Worst” moments, I asked my boss “Do you want me to check my emails all day or do you want me to do my job?”. Yes, I actually said that! I’m not suggesting you do the same; however, I think we’ve all been there! The emails won’t stop, most have nothing or little to do with you, the company expects you to read, know, and respond to them all, while you have an actual job to do that you get paid for, and will be questioned about when it doesn’t get done.
Let me preface this by stating, if your organization has its own email policy… follow it! If not or you have professional control or flexibility to evolve in this area, here’s what I’ve suggested in the past, currently do, and wish someone would have suggested to me earlier:
- Include your email checking and responding in your “Daily Email Routine”, after greeting employees and coworkers, mid-day, and an hour before shutting down your day to allow time to respond.
- Due to having my own business and setting my own rules, I choose not to get into my emails until 11:00am. I scan them after my morning routine for pending contracts and possible emergencies, but don’t get into the meat of anything until 11:00am and have prefaced this with organizations I do work with… providing alternative methods to contact me if necessary.
- Set aside a time of day to give your undivided attention to your emails and preface your method with your people… along with your typical response time… so they have an understanding and don’t feel ignored or slighted. When people know you check your emails at certain times, you guarantee your response by end of day or within 24 hours, and you’ve agreed on what an “emergency” is… along with an alternative way to reach in that unlikely event… most leaders and employees will be just fine with that. It’s a leader’s inconsistency that drives most teams crazy!
M. – Most Important
If you’re an employee reading this and not in a professional position of leadership… sometimes it’s helpful to help your leaders lead you or make your coaches coach you. Remember, YOU can be a leader anywhere in the company and it starts by accompanying your problem with a suggested solution and then utilizing A leader’s Idea. This process suggests you brainstorm a suggestion to attack and solve the issue and then ask your boss what they like about it and anything they’d fine-tune about it.
It may sound something like, “Hi ________, do you have a second? I know I’ve had issues checking and responding to my email and I was thinking of ways I could do better and wanted your feedback. I’d like to scan my emails when I arrive to work for what pertains to me and set aside (reasonable allotted timeframe) time to respond to the most important things. Then do the same before lunch, and an hour before leaving. During the gaps, if you or someone else needs me for an emergency they can text me. It’d be great to know what an emergency entails; so I’m not having the same issue but on my phone. What do you like about this and is there anything you’d fine-tune?”.
This allows your boss to know you’re willing, proactive, thinking, and have included them in the idea planning… and that you’re interested in actually doing your job! I’m not sure what he/she will say… but something will be said. Perhaps this will be the new way you and your entire team operates from now on. Or, maybe it’s squashed. No matter what happens, you’re now going to email your boss… Thanking them for their time, explaining the process of what you will be doing moving forward, and that you’re looking forward to moving forward. Why? Because a conversation that’s not documented never happened!
A. – Action Required
The funny thing about emails is… sometimes you’ll be the one filling someone’s inbox with questions and information you need a response to. Email Etiquette is always of monumental importance: sending emails during work hours and not at 11:30pm and tone of voice in the email are always top concerns. Remember, it’s very easy to end up on the bottom of someone’s To-Do List when your email is sharp, blaming, and/or condescending! Therefore, I start ALL of my emails with “Happy ___whatever day it is”_____!”, I then share why I’m emailing, and end with something like “Thanks so much, I look forward to hearing from you. Have an awesome day!”. Feel free to make this your own and you may say it sounds cheesy or takes to long to write… The truth is… I’m honored to hear from countless people I do business with that say my emails make their day! Or, they weren’t having a Happy Thursday and my email made them smile or remember the day wasn’t so bad. Do you think they are more likely or less likely to get back to me?
What if you’re the one being emailed? Typically, someone somewhere needs something from you. When you can… answer them right there on the spot in that email, call them, or set up a virtual call to address the issue. If not, be sure to maintain your email etiquette and inform them you will have the answer they need by ______________. Providing a reasonable timeline will help decrease their anxiety and allows you to get back to your definition of “Busy”. Be sure to add “The Get Back” to your To-Do List and follow through… keeping your word keeps you a leader… Be Mindful!
I.– Intentional Kindness
You just read a major form of Intentional Kindness which I call the Positive Sandwich, “Happy Thursday and I hope all is great! Can you reach out to _________ and set us up on a Zoom Call for Thursday at 2:00pm EST please? Thanks so much and have an awesome rest of your day!” This is an actual email I send to my Assistant numerous times a day in different variations. I’ve also asked in the past how she’d prefer to receive these numerous emails… 20 of these per day or chunked a few times per day?
Intentional Kindness also means you’re leader enough to reach out from time to time when you don’t need anything! A simple email sent during working hours that says, “Hi _______, Happy Thursday and I hope all is great! I wanted to take a moment to say Thank You for all that you do and your effort is essential in making this business run! Enjoy the rest of your day!” Or to a customer/client, “Hi ____________, Happy Thursday and I hope all is great! Just reaching out to say hello. How’s everything with you, yours, and ____(the company)___?” I’ve been traveling quite a bit and it’s been a whirlwind of positivity on my end, but a whirlwind nonetheless. I look forward to hearing from you. Enjoy the rest of your day!”. Remember, if the only time you’re reaching out is for a problem or to sell something… that’s all you’ll ever be to them. People like doing business with people they enjoy and who they trust… and that comes down to connection!
L. – Length
School and I didn’t really get along until I stumbled into Sociology and later Counseling Psychology courses in college. Rather than writing papers, we broke into small groups and had discussion… Wow… what a notion! It always perplexed me when a professor asked for a 20-page paper. Wouldn’t it be more ideal if I could tell you what I know or write what I know in as few words as possible? Isn’t that really knowing… and then me being able to answer your questions accordingly?
Could you imagine an employee or coworker sending you a 20-page email? Would you read it? Would you dread even seeing their name come up in your inbox from them on? Therefore, be mindful of the length of your email. Of course, there are times you may be protecting yourself and covering your butt. Outside of that, utilize the positive sandwich, provide the necessary details, possible attachments, and/or set a future date for a virtual call or old-school phone call to ensure you’re emailing like a leader!
You now know A Leader’s Email! Your people, coworkers, and clients will appreciate your new communication and please feel free to tailor it to your style and verbiage to make it yours!
“Remember, it’s very easy to end up on the bottom of someone else’s To-Do List when your email is sharp, blaming, and/or condescending… Be Mindful!”
– Andre Young
Written by: Andre Young
Click www.youevolvingnow.com to find out more about Andre Young’s Leadership & Work/Life Harmony Trainings, Speaking Engagements, Books, and more; evolving your organization, your leaders, employees, and teams!