Do you receive far too many emails that do not tell you about anything? Perhaps it is that all too customary cc or bcc that invites you to read about something that may at some time be of value, maybe. Perhaps it could be about that meeting that you are not going too or telling you that an action you asked for had been closed down?
Stephen Covey, in his book “7 habits for highly effective people“, suggested that we consider important and urgent as categories to be aware of and questioned the value of the not urgent not important category. Why then do we continue to get these in our inbox.
For some emails there’s an unsubscribe button,but for the majority of emails received internally, we simply accept the content and do not challenge why we received this email.
Have you stopped and asked a question, why is it that you receive these emails?
From today, I have devised a button that I have placed on the foot of all my emails – simply it says thanks but no thanks. It does not remove people from receiving emails from me, but does flag that the content that I have sent through is not if interest. What a fantastic tech solution to measure the number of emails that people receive from me that they are not interested in receiving. I could look at the read rate, bounce rate, delete rate, uselessness rate, time wasted rate, response rate, bcc rate and cc rate. I could graph these and compare them from day to day, week to week, month to month…..
Noooooo… I am interested in behaviour, not how tech can measure stuff that is not of interest. What we need to consider is root behaviour. What is it that triggered the need for the originator to send through an email that may not be useful to you.
Lencioni introduced us to what makes a team dysfunction. I wonder if part of the cc and bcc behaviour is how the individual feels about the environment that they work in. Some of the elements such as trust and accountability ring out.
- If we really trusted people to close down actions then why do we need an email to confirm completion?
- Do we really trust the person to do it?
- What has our body language or the organisation culture demonstrated that it had the trust of the employee in mind.
I remember working for an organisation where the team I worked in was micro managed. We routinely closed down the tasks by email as we did not feel trusted by the person and organisation – or that is how we felt. Sure, it made the manager feel comfortable but did little to promote a motivated workforce.
I recognise that sometimes closure is essential as part of a compliance process. It could be that there is a mandated legislative requirement, but these are rare.
- What is the main reason that you receive activity from people?
- What is it that you are creating or adding to the culture?
- What could you cease doing, and
- What something else could you do to promote a better email culture?
It is surprising now that the mobile phone is no longer used to talk to people. It appears to be becoming a secondary function behind the apps that are on offer. The average user looks at their phone 1500 times a week (Source) but rarely uses it to phone. A friend has set themselves a challenge – phone up a new person each day for the next month – perhaps this could be worth a try?
In France last year, a new labour agreement aims to give employees a better work life balance by asking employees to switch off work email after 6pm. How would you cope with this?
Finally, think about those subscriptions that you take out when you are clicking around the web. If important for you, then ask yourself why you subscribed. About every 2 weeks, I have an unsubscribe day. I look through those ‘feels good in the moment’ subscriptions and do an en masse unsubscribe to the resultant effect that my emails go down in volume.
What are you going to do differently to start to take control of your emails?