What is your email culture like?  And what does it say about your business culture?

Copied in on emails.  Reply to all emails.  Sending emails when you are working in the office next door.  Sending very long or very short emails.  No please or thank you.  Forwarding emails with no context.  No response to an email.  Sending an email out of normal office hours.

The list can go on, but each of these scenarios can speak volumes about your business culture, the behaviours in your business and what has become an acceptable way of working.

There can be no doubt that sending emails and messages can be efficient and effective, but perhaps there is another way and with small changes it could make a huge difference to the way that you and your team communicate and collaborate.

Here are some things to think about:

?Do you need to send that email? 

Of course there is a time and a place for sending an email, such as to have a record of a discussion, to authorise an action, or confirm a decision.  But could you pick up the phone or go and see the person you are emailing instead of creating what could be another long email chain?

↩️Does everyone need to be copied into your response?  

If you’ve all been asked whether you’re available on Thursday morning, does everyone need to know the answer, or just the person that has asked you?

?Understand the context of an email that you think needs forwarding. 

Try not to just forward an email on, without considering the content first and what might need to be done with it.  The email might not need to to be sent to everyone in your team or perhaps the information could be shared in a team meeting instead.

Limit sending emails out of hours unless you absolutely have to.

Apart from keeping your own work life balance in check, it could give the impression that you are expecting others to work outside of normal hours too, creating a negative knock on effect.

?Think about your tone. 

If you are cheesed off with a situation, by all means draft a response as a way of getting something off your chest, but don’t hit send and sleep on it first!  Would you say what you have written to the other person if they were in the room?   

?Agree how you are going to use the CC or the “reply to all” function as a team.

Does your manager or colleague need to be copied into an email, or are you doing it to try to make a point?  In terms of BCC, personally I think it should only be used when you are protecting email address privacy, otherwise it feels underhand.

??‍?Don’t hide behind your email.

It might feel like it’s easier to send an email rather than confront or deal with a difficult situation, but you’ll never know how the other person is going to actually receive your email or when they may see it.   Have a conversation instead.

?Say please and thank you.

In the absence of information, we can fill the gap.  A request for something without saying “please” can sound rude and abrupt and not thanking someone can be just as rude!  Please and Thank you – two very simple phrases that can fill the gap and avoid misinterpretation.

These are just a few ideas of what may help your email culture as well as reduce the amount of email traffic.  Have a chat to your team about emails and ask their thoughts on what could change to improve the way that you all communicate and collaborate.

At Be Business Fit, through a combination of team coaching and facilitation, we’ll help you maximise your business and team performance by getting you thinking about your culture and the behaviours that may need to change for the future.


Sam Heighway