E-mail is the workhorse of corporate communications. It is how many of us receive our “to-do’s” from our manager and team, the way we clarify what needs doing, and how we collaborate on teams.
E-mail is also one of the least effective communication mediums on the planet.
The problem with e-mail is that we don’t view it as a something that brands us in our work. What I mean by this is that we simply receive e-mails, respond to them and never think through what the e-mail is saying about us and our work.
Take a look at the first ten e-mails you write after you read this article. Do they simply ask and respond based on your work? Or do they get modified to make sure that what the e-mail is saying is how you are perceived as an employee or coworker? If a Board member, for example, were to read your e-mail, would the Board member see a professional employee doing the right stuff in the e-mail? Or a pithy pundit who is smacking down the company and its policies?
I had a job once where we were implementing a new software program to replace the current customer system we were using. And the new software tool wasn’t working. At all. A disaster to foist upon every person working in the division, like it or not.
I was pretty strong in my belief that we shouldn’t continue to implement it. With three page e-mails every day on why the system would not work. I basically bludgeoned my manager for weeks on end with long e-mails on how crappy the new system was — that he selected, of course — during development and testing.
Wrong tool. Wrong length. And a great way to develop a really poor personal brand.
I have this little saying that says “What goes on the Internet stays on the Internet.” E-mail is like that because e-mail is not only read, but can also be forwarded anywhere, printed and copied — and used in court cases at trials as evidence.The problem with most e-mail is we don’t take fifteen seconds to structure it in a way that shows our professionalism, promotes what we want to personally show our coworkers, and how we want our manager to perceive our work. We just write. And that’s wrong.
Do you want to start using e-mail to show your professionalism, your follow through and show that you deliver your work? When you start your e-mail to give the answer you said you would give, start building your personal brand with these two words:
Scot Herrick is the author of “I’ve Landed My Dream Job–Now What???” and owner of Cube Rules, LLC. Scot has a long history of management and individual contribution in multiple Fortune 100 corporations. In 2005, Scot started sharing these hard lessons at CubeRules.com, a site devoted to Career Advice for knowledge workers, whom he calls Cubicle Warriors.