A Few Guidelines for Email
Many of you Millennials will be evaluated to some degree by what you communicate and how you communicate. Email for now is the dominant form of communication in businesses and other organizations. With humility, allow me to suggest a few guidelines for your younger generation to be most effective in this mode of communication. And it wouldn’t hurt for your older peers to follow along as well.
- Respond promptly to email. Many of you see texting as a form of instantaneous communication and email as something you can get to in a day or two or three. Business leaders expect responses within 24 hours or sooner. When email was first created for businesses, the inbox had limited capacity by design. It was to be emptied each day. That’s a rule I follow with few exceptions. Use your email folders for emails you may need to keep beyond a day.
- Make your email a reasonable length. I have requested briefer emails from some of the Builder generation in my organization. These older workers, including some Boomers with a proclivity toward formality, have a tendency to write with a bit of verbosity. It is not necessary, I tell them, to begin an email with “I am writing to you today to tell you . . .” Your generation, however, has a tendency toward brevity to the extreme. Write in complete sentences. Don’t use acronyms as you do in texting. Some of us older guys may take several minutes to discern what you mean by “ROTFL.”
- Put something in the subject line. An empty subject line indicates laziness and an unimportant topic.
- Make certain you use good grammar. Some young workers can be passed over for opportunities because they write so poorly. The most common errors I notice are capitalization errors, both in the Millennial generation and in older workers.
- Do not forward jokes or other non-business email. Others will perceive that you have too much time on your hands.
- Use the “cc” for multiple recipients sparingly. Some leaders will delete emails quickly if they have a long list of recipients.
- Similarly, use the “reply all” button sparingly. Most leaders do not want to know how every recipient responds to an email. It is too time consuming.
- Make certain your email has a signature with contact information. That will reduce other emails requesting that information.
- Be extremely careful in writing critical or angry emails. Most of us have a tendency to put things in writing we would never say face to face. Remember, anything we write electronically is permanent: emails, blogs, Facebook, Twitter, and other social media. Think twice before hitting “send.” Your words may backfire on you later.
- Remember that company emails are not private. Always assume that other eyes can have access to your emails if needed.
(Borrowed from the blog of Thom Rainer)