Management by email – how to get it right

This posting is inspired by a recent communications course I ran for managers and supervisors – my thanks to them for their input.  Email is a huge part of people’s working and home lives and is only likely to increase in its use. Managing is fundamentally about planning, organising, leading and controlling so where does the effective use of email fit in? As a communication tool email is exceptionally powerful but how do you use it to be a better manager?  Here is some food for thought to consider using email as a manager – use it:

  1. Sparingly. Use it for non contentious communication with staff to speed up the communication process.
  2. For detail.  Because there is a written record it is good for getting many facts out quickly and accurately.
  3. For positive news.  People rarely take exception to positive news about results and success.
  4. Politely.  A Hi …, Hello …, Dear …, makes all the difference to your communication.  Thanks and regards also helps.
  5. In a crisis.  When there really is not time for a face-to-face communication and the message content very is critical.  But ensure that it really is a crisis.
  6. Sensitively.  Whether you like it or not, your mood, when writing the email, is likely to be inferred from what you write and how you write it.
  7. To give people time to think.  Some people do not like responding to complex questions without having time to think the issue through.  Raising an issue by email prior to a meeting for example could be an effective way of getting better input from people.
  8. For praise and recognition when face-to-face options are not available.  Nothing motivates like recognition even if it is by email.
  9. For reaching many people at once.  Used carefully and sensitively email does allow you to reach a lot of people quickly.

Email is clearly good for some management activities and not for others.  I hope this short list gives you some sensible and practical guidelines.  Any other thoughts would be gratefully received as comments.

I raise money for the Alzheimer’s Society in the UK – a very small donation at would be most appreciated.

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