Let’s do some simple math. If you read and write about 100 emails each day and spend an average of three minutes on each one you have just used 5 hours of your work day sitting in front of a computer screen and not really accomplishing anything. At best, you have delegated work and maybe put out a few fires.
Email is killing leadership by keeping leaders from interacting with and inspiring people. It is hard to show enthusiasm in an email and the message can be lost. If we want to delegate work, we should take the time to show others how important it is and make sure they understand the need for the work. This is best done with interaction and two-way conversation.
Emails disconnect us from the real world and the problems that our people are facing on a daily basis. How can we be expected to connect with others in a meaningful way? We all take classes on how to be a better communicator and email is one of the worst ways to communicate, yet we default to this tool regularly.
You can’t lead from your chair!
Get out. See the world. Visit with your neighbors. Show support. Ask stupid questions. Shake hands. These are little things that create lasting impressions. It is better to interact personally whenever you can. Take the time to do it.
But how can you stop the barrage of emails that hit your screen every day? Here are a few tips:
Dedicate a certain amount of time to emails every day and stick to it. If you start with taking a 1-hour block of time in the morning and another in the evening you will be able to answer emails effectively.
- Let people know they should come and talk to you if the topic is critical. If it is important enough they will do that anyway. A phone call is preferable to an email.
- Respond to emails asking that others anticipate no better than a 24-hour (12-hour, 8-hour, whatever works) response time. You can use an auto-respond function like you do for vacations, thanking people for their email and letting them know they can expect a response in 24-hours.
- Expect the same from others. Don’t expect immediate replies to your emails. Use personal communication whenever you can and use emails as only an informative tool.
- Lose the CYA attitude! Come on…we are all adults here and no one is going to lose their job because they didn’t send an email! Work on building trust, not protecting your rear.
What are some other tips to manage emails you have found useful?
What other murder weapons of leadership are in your life?