PRODUCTIVE EMAIL COMMUNICATION TIPS
“…ALWAYS REMEMBER TO C.Y.A (COVER YOUR ASS).”
Communication at work is important to master. Body language, verbal, written and digital communication all fall under the umbrella of communication. As you are molded into your company culture, you learn new vocabulary and a new way of verbally communicating. Even your body language is molded into how you present yourself around your team and clients. The result of this mold represents both you, as a professional, and your company.
I have worked in all different types of companies, including high-tech organizations where managers are given a work iPhone in order to make phone calls, answer emails, etc. while on the go. The team is always learning and looking for better software to make their jobs easier and faster. I have even worked in companies that were way behind in the world of technology and we're still using rubber stamps and ink pads to approve some paperwork! Regardless of whether you are in a high-tech or low-tech environment, communication is key. It's not just about delivering the message, but how that message is delivered.
For the majority of professionals, we use some type of computer and have a personal and/or work email. It is mandatory to have an email address in our world today. You can't have Netflix without an email address, right?
You may find yourself working in a fast-paced environment, going from meeting to meeting and taking notes in your notebook or iPad. You may find that you run into a client on the street and they tell you what they need for their event. You may run into a supervisor who tells you to complete an assignment by the end of the week. You see yourself adding this as a reminder into your smartphone.
Regardless of whatever information you receive, whether it during a meeting or in passing during lunch, always remember to C.Y.A (Cover Your Ass). You will find that in the time you are quickly receiving this information from a client or boss, miscommunication may occur. Whether someone may have communicated the wrong information, or you heard something different, always remember to communicate and acknowledge that you listened and have understood what was being communicated. In situations where it is a project or an assignment, it is best to communicate via email where you would have a written record.
Sometimes during a meeting (whether in person or via Skype), there are many different opinions interjected, or many topics being discussed. The best thing you can do as a professional is to take notes, ask questions for clarity, and follow up after the meeting. The last and most important thing to do is make sure to follow up by the end of the day. Use a written email summarizing what was discussed and what your assignments are. Include some follow-up questions that may not have been brought up. This all should be outlined in one organized and clear email. Send the email with a copy of a receipt indicating if your boss had read it.
You may have the type of boss that gets a lot of emails and cannot respond to every single message right away. You may also have a boss who responds quickly. If you do have a boss that is responsive, this just helps build credibility for you as an employee. You have acknowledged what your boss has instructed and have shown initiative. It reflects that you are organized in the planning of your projects.
You can provide suggestions to make things easier for your boss and the team in one strong email. Here is an example:
Subject Line: Please Review: Projects from Team Meeting
Great meeting today. Here is an outline of the following projects you had advised me to take the lead on during today's meeting. I will keep you in the loop of the process on a weekly basis and let you know if there are any delays.
1. Prepare the Quarterly Staff Meeting for Next month: Book room, order catering, and print reports for each staff member.
+Can you specify what is the budget for the catering for this meeting?
+If there is no budget, I would suggest having the boxed lunch option with half an order of chicken and half vegetarian so we can save money for the raffle prize for the Staff Appreciation Luncheon in two months.
2. Follow up on all Sales Calls from "No Response" Clients from last week:
+I will send you a separate email by the end of the week of the report of those that have followed back
+For those that still have "no response" by the end of this week, I will send them a follow-up email in case they are out of the office or have changed numbers so we can update our database if needed.
3. Work with the sales & marketing team on any promotions they would like to have posted and ensure they are approved by the end of the month.
+I already scheduled a meeting with them for next Tuesday. I will provide you a draft of the promos by the end of next week.
Let me know if I am missing any tasks that should take priority or keep me updated for any changes that may occur. Thank you.
As you can see from this email, it outlines three simple but major tasks that this employee needs to tackle in the next two weeks. The employer also included questions and suggestions that were not brought up at the meeting due to time constraints. By constructing ONE email, this will avoid having TOO many emails that will make things too confusing. Sending too many emails will just fill up their inbox leaving them overwhelmed where you might not get all your questions answered. Presenting everything in one email makes you look professional, organized and like someone who is also considerate of his/her boss's time. Remember your boss is not just managing you, but a team and others. A boss will like an employee who makes their job easier. They do not feel they need to micromanage that employee. Unless they are a micromanaging boss, then we will discuss that topic for a new blog post. Once your boss sees this type of initiative, your boss will answer your emails quicker knowing you need an answer right away in order to get the job done.
Most importantly, having this follow up email, covers your ass in any type of situation. In any event, your boss may come and ask you to redo an assignment because it was done incorrectly. If there was a situation where you need to do so, you can follow up with this written document (email), that you had taken note of the original assignment that they had instructed and that they had acknowledged by responding to your email without clarifying or sending an update on the project. This covers all your hard work and most importantly your reputation. So even if there was a delay in question regarding your work by colleagues or someone even higher than your boss, you have proof that you were instructed to do as what you were told. It also trains your boss and others to communicate more efficiently for the next time so you won't end up having to redo an assignment and for them to have a delay in the results.
Let's review the three important points you need to include in one email to communicate efficiently with your boss regarding your tasks:
1. Subject Line: This is important. Your boss gets so many emails in a day. Have one that stands out from the rest of the emails and format it with a call to action and a short description. Here are a few examples:
"Please Review: September Marketing Budget"
"URGENT: Deadline on Client Proposal 4/4"
"Follow Up Required: March Staff Meeting Agenda"
"Approval Required: Updated Client Proposal"
2. Outline Your Projects: Make this concise. Make the email short. Make it visually easy to read. Your boss may be reading this on his/her smartphone.
3. Include Important & Necessary Questions & Suggestions: Before you hit send, make sure you have thought of all the questions and suggestions pertaining to the subject matter to avoid sending smaller emails later on in the day.
4. Include a Timeline or Due Dates: Take note that you will have these done by a certain time frame and if you are already in the process, include what you have already done.
At Old Fashioned Marketing, communication via email is the number one way we communicate with our clients, collaborations, partners and our growing team. I like to make sure that all emails I send out to clients have all the information they need. The subject line is addressed properly so if they ever need to look up an email, it is easy to find. We provide all our clients a clear overview of what type of emails when they will receive emails from us and the subject line in their onboarding packet, so they know what to expect. We also want to make sure we include everything we need to include to prevent so many back and forth emails and bombard their email box with too many emails from OFM. We always want to think, how can we make things easier for all our clients and for each other than taking the time to do all the important points discussed, goes a long way.
Have you cleared out all your inboxes for the day?
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ABOUT YOUR MARKETING BARTENDER
Lucy Capul is the Creative Director of Old Fashioned Marketing & Consulting. Lucy’s background in Hospitality Management concentrating in Special Events and Marketing has lead her to create a platform for start-ups, entrepreneurs and businesses to gain support and resources for their business. Old Fashioned Marketing & Consulting was created to take away the work load of any working professional where they have the opportunity to have a professional virtually run their marketing behind the scenes, so they can have their drink and drink it too. Lucy’s experience in the corporate world has lead her to realize that the world glorifies the chaotic and busy lifestyle of a typical hard working professional. Lucy is an avid supporter of taking the time to “namaste” away from the work day and making time for friends, family and a little bit of whiskey, promoting a work-life balance. The Bar Babble blog was created to provide resources for like minded professionals to succeed in their professional and personal lives and also for students or anyone who wants to jump into the marketing world. Bar Babble is that time and place after a long day where you can be unapologetically unfiltered and babble about the highs, the lows, tips and tricks that no one talks about. Let’s get a little “whiskey”, and let’s Bar Babble.