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Top Ten Mistakes Managers Make With Email February 4, 2010

Posted by Alan Yu in Management.
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An article in the Wall Street Journal lists the top ten mistakes managers make with e-mail.  Since the newspaper has started charging for subscriber content, I’m careful not to reproduce everything, in case the law catches up with me, but the following highlights should be enough to whet the appetite:

1. Using vague subject lines: “Meeting,” “Update,” or “Question” provide no value as subject lines.

2. Burying the news.

3. Hiding Behind the “BCC” field — some blind recipients hit the “reply all” button and reveals all.

4. Failing to clean up the mess of earlier replies/forwards, such as a string of previous messages.

5. Ignoring grammar and mechanics, especially when sending from PDAs.

6. Avoiding necessarily long emails: longer messages sometimes do work best.

7. Mashing everything together into bulky, imposing, inaccessible paragraphs — length does not discourage reading; bulk does.

8. Neglecting the human beings at the other end — be careful about heaping praise or blame, and being emotional, sharp-tongued or sarcastic

9. Thinking email works best, but it’s not always the best way to communicate.

10. Forgetting that email lasts forever, as easy-to-forward proof of any error, offence or obfuscation we make.

The author is Tim Flood, assistant professor of Management and Corporate Communications at the University of North Carolina’s Kenan-Flagler Business School.  Don’t say we haven’t been warned by an expert.

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