...top-heavy inboxes. Archiving helps reduce this risk. Lowering the volume of transient and ephemeral emails can often be mitigated with the use of instant messaging (IM). However, IM itself brings other challenges as it represents another distraction that needs managing as part of best practice.
Having identified what can be changed by altering email behaviour, you now need to frame some guidelines. Rather than writing them just as dos and don'ts, one way that many of my clients find beneficial is to frame them as a charter, often around a mnemonic linked to their core values.
For example, 'Customs' for an organisation whose values are related to customer focus. 'Tracks' for one in the rail business. Each word represents an aspect of email best practice. For example, with Tracks, T can equal 'Take time to deal with your email'. Our Nine Ps of Email Best Practice can be downloaded free as a template for a starting point.
Training needs to cater for all levels and types of employees from part-timers to very senior executives with very little time to spare. This means having a mix of delivery mechanisms from webinars to one-on-one coaching. Politicians at all levels are the biggest offenders for creating emailgate disasters, and yet in my experience they are the worst at finding time to buy into the messages.
Reinforce the message. We are dealing with behaviour change, which means you need to monitor and reinforce the new behaviour. This is the area where activities such as email-free Fridays can be very useful to remind people to think outside email and talk more often.
Train the new joiners. It sounds obvious but people often forget to include their email best practice in their induction training and then wonder why a new graduate is at the root of a costly email disaster.
Three quick ways to start implementing a robust enterprise-wide email best practice strategy are:
- Run a focus group to start engaging people.
- Pilot an email best practice workshop with a cohesive team of users, such as a department.
- Measure and evaluate the benefits and use these to start the enterprise-wide programme.
Dr Monica Seeley is an international expert on email management. She is a visiting fellow at Cass Business School, City University, and has just written her third book Brilliant Email published by Pearson. You can follow her daily email tips and hints on Twitter.
Dr Monica Seeley is an international expert on email management and runs the Mesmo Consultancy. She is a visiting fellow at Cass Business School, City University, London, and has just written her third book, Brilliant Email, published by Pearson.