Are your team’s email practices inconsistent, causing confusion and miscommunication? This is an issue we hear about often from our clients. Although we teach teams to write effective emails, improve etiquette, and communicate strategically, some groups still need help with fundamental conventions. If this sounds like your team, try creating your own company email protocol. Here’s a quick how-to:
Time required: Ten to fifteen minutes
Size and kind of group: A group of managers, one facilitator
- Divide the managers into small groups.
- Have each group assign a transcriber. Give each group five to ten minutes to generate a list of things that drive them most crazy about email. Have the secretary record this list.
- Once these lists are generated, have each group organize their list items from most to least annoying.
- Then, moving around the room, ask each group for its biggest irritation first. Transform these complaints into protocol. For example:
They say: We can’t stand messages written in all caps (Yes! This still happens) or all in lowercase. You write: Write all messages in upper and lower case.
They say: Don’t cc people if you require action from them. You write: Only cc people who need to know about, but not act upon, your message.
Continue collecting ideas from one group at a time until all ideas are recorded. Turn the complaints and irritations into positive actions.
Have someone type up the email protocol and distribute it company-wide.
Voila! It’s easy and costs you only a few minutes. Now, to make it stick, you need to reinforce it: make it part of orientations, catch people doing good, and correct writers who slip up.