Thursday, 24 March 2011

E-mail Communication


One of the main tasks at all levels of the project management food chain is to communicate with stakeholders and co-workers. Often, the main mode of communication is via email. Believe it or not, there are over 3 billion active email accounts in the world today and at least 25% of those are used for business proposes (1). How many emails do you send/receive a day?

Using email to communicate in the project management environment makes sense for a variety of reasons to include:

-It’s cheap.
-It’s fast!
-People are familiar with email use because it is used in their personal lives. (How many people do you know that do not have an email account?).
-Record of conversation is maintained.

What people often do not think about is every email communication becomes part of their “persona.” Especially in the virtual world where contact with stakeholders and co-workers may be sparse, sloppy, or unprofessional — emails may tarnish one’s reputation. If e-mail is your main, or only, contact with certain individuals it becomes like a saying I often heard in my Navy days… “Perception becomes reality.”

Some tips for using email:

-Consider putting an automatic 1-3 minute delay into sent email. Ever go to hit send and as you’re hitting the key you realize there is a mistake but your fingers are faster than your mind?
-Use Out-Of-Office when you will not be checking emails. Manage expectations! If you regularly communicate with somebody and suddenly stop, you may get the label of unreliable.
-Enable automatic spell check.
-Be aware of the size of the files you attach. If the files are very large, you may lock up the recipient’s email box.
-Use a signature line and include your contact information (name, title, mailing address, office phone, cell phone…). This can be done automatically so each and every email you send will have it included.
-Keep to and CC lines unfilled until you are ready to send. This will help prevent an inadvertent launch of the email before you are ready.
-If you are sending an important email, have someone proofread it before it is sent.

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