We know the irony of us emailing this, however we think there is an important issue that needs to be addressed in nearly every workplace.
Change Agents, we need to initiate a chat in our workplaces about email. It has become the most over-used form of communication and it is to the detriment of our productivity and working relationships.
We get emails from our colleagues, our clients, our suppliers, and even our workplace systems. We send emails about losing our stapler, important client meetings, big company announcements, and project updates. They all go into our inbox as though they are equal.
All emails are equal, but some are more equal than others. It really is like Animal Farm as we try to organise, prioritise, and keep up with the constant bombardment and move from one email distraction to the next.
It would be possible for many of us to work entirely from our inbox for the whole day. Some people may even go home after their day in their inbox actually believing they have achieved something. Some people even think they have done something, because they sent an email about it.
Email is the lazy communicators best friend, and we have all fallen into the laziness trap from time-to-time. We may fall into the trap when we email rather than pick up the phone, when we send a group email rather than organise a meeting, when we email because we are not prepared to listen, or especially when we email because we are scared to have the face to face conversation.
They're not funky, trendy, or hip like the latest technology, but our ears and mouth remain the best apps for human-to-human communication. Let's call it the 'human' app. We can even incorporate our eyes into the 'human' app as well, and then we add a whole level of 3D communication that email can't come remotely close to in terms of effectively sending and receiving complex messages.
There are some important things we should consider before we choose our method of communication:
Email is a great tool when:
So that's the good part of email. Of course, sometimes email is useful beyond these situations, but if email has become your go-to method for most of your communication with your colleagues then you may be in danger of falling into the lazy communicator trap.
7 Signs that you have definitely fallen into the lazy communicator trap with your colleagues are when:
Email has the advantage of being instant, but it is very difficult to communicate the nuance of emotion in writing, and because it is instant, it can be sent and received right at the emotional peak, when we are most likely not our best selves.
As other tools are coming into our workplaces to complement our email systems, such as instant messaging and group chats, then it is important that we don't let these bad habits just migrate to the new platforms.
Setting and documenting the standards in team communication is an important part of establishing a productive workplace culture. We help our clients develop their communications policies and provide team training on how and when to use the various approaches (including email, instant messaging, face-to-face conversation, team meetings, and social media) in team communication.
Finally, please remember that you can avoid adding to the email scourge. If you receive an email where the response would be better handled by phone or face to face conversation, then don't hit reply. Remember the 'human' app. Start the conversation, build the relationship, and demonstrate the value of effective voice communication.
H Agents write about the joys and challenges of entrepreneurship and managing people.