Most organizations are full of email waste and confusion causing employees everywhere to proclaim that they get too many emails and that there must be a better way. But what if the answer was simply to write better emails? Or better yet, what if everyone in your company operated under an email charter that was included in onboarding new employees, shared with everyone twice a year, and highlighted during regular team meetings? What would you include in your charter?
Consider the following email charter clauses for your organization:
See Below Is No-Go
As the message sender, it’s on YOU to minimize the time your email will take to process while also maximizing its effectiveness. This means that you must take a few extra steps before sending an email to create a clear understanding of the purpose and expectations behind the text thread that is being forwarded.
Clear And Concise, Ain’t That Nice
Email subject lines should clearly outline the topic and the nature of the email. It makes sense to rewrite or clean up forwarded emails to better signal to the recipient the nature and importance of the message. Use crisp, muddle-free sentences. If the email is longer than five sentences, make sure the first sentence provides the basic reason for the message. Avoid strange fonts and colors
No Pennies For Your Thoughts
It is asking a lot to send someone an email with four long paragraphs of turgid text followed by "Thoughts?". Even well-intended but open questions like "How can I help?" may not be that helpful. Email generosity requires simplifying, easy-to-answer questions. "Can I help best by a) calling b) visiting or c) staying right out of it?!"
Email Gifts: EOM and NNTR
If your thoughts can be expressed in just a few words, write the message in the subject line, followed by EOM (= End of Message). This saves the recipient from having to open the message. Also, ending a note with "No need to respond" or NNTR, is a wonderful act of generosity. Many acronyms confuse as much as help, but these two are golden and deserve more adoption.
Avoid Upset By Creating Shared Expectations
When you send an email request to someone and want them to do something – be clear about 2 things: What do you want and when do you want it. DO NOT use words like ASAP, urgent, or Time Sensitive – those words mean different things to different people and add ambiguity. State the time and time zone when you need something and ask the other party if it is reasonable to expect your request to be completed by that time. “I would like this task completed by 5:00 pm CST on Nov 1st. Is that a reasonable expectation?”