Friday, March 5, 2010

The need to assess how effective your staff manage Emails ?

Everyday your inbox is being flooded with emails that tire your eyes while raising your blood pressure and killing more of your brain cells. Email exchanges that cc or bcc to you occasionally makes you wonder what your direct reports, and their clients, actually do for a living? We will irk those "FWD" mails linking you to long spools of detailed correspondence that you have zero desire, or need, to review or read. You are only just peeking into the abyss of digital dysfunction and human self mis-management. The bigger office communication picture may be even more disheartening or threatening.

It will soon be seen that the art of effective email exchange is going to lead to a critical success factor in business performance, therefore mismanagement of email may in fact be a symptom of weakness or poor operation of your organization.

Executive has no time (or obsessive-compulsive disorder) to review and edit their people's correspondence — it's not possible and it wouldn't be healthy in working organization. So how can management or HR department quickly and cheaply create the shock of self-consciousness to push their people to take the style and substance of their correspondence more seriously? And how can you find out the interoffice spam actually reflects a deeper issue of employee performance?

A possible approach is to make email an intrinsic part of performance reviews. Insist that colleagues and subordinates better evaluate their email so that you may better evaluate their performance. There are few better proxies for assessing how well individuals are communicating, on task and on target, than the digital transmittal they send in order to get their work done.

The key is to politely demand self-assessment and review. Ask people to present correspondence that demonstrate how well they've used the medium to manage successful outcomes. In other words, have them select examples illustrating their own email "best practices" for results. From here, we may find such assessment and prioritization procedure a lot to reveal and understand. Culling their email correspondence is a wonderful way for individuals to remember and reconnect with what they think works and what doesn't. Your ability to weigh their self-assessed success with your own experiences gives this simple technique particular power.

At one project review, every single example selected by one manager featured brief emails with large reports or presentations attached. Email is not a medium of communication; it is a tool for referral. The larger issue was that this person was so intent on being "comprehensive" that they avoided getting to the essence of what their colleagues asked for and needed in the moment. At another, the employee literally annotated and expanded upon the emails received; all the "best practice" emails were "responses" to others rather than ideas and solutions he initiated. These email styles raised larger and more important issues around performance and personal effectiveness. They likely would not have surfaced without the email self-assessment demand.

It's remarkable what can be discovered when people are asked to show examples of what they think they're doing well.

Some of us may not be so tech-naive to constrain this performance review technique to email alone. Firms using wikis, blogs, and other digital media for coordination and collaboration should similarly broaden the purview of their performance reviews. But it may be surprising that only a small handful of the managers and executives make this tactic a part of their assessment process.

Some have the opinion that many managers think that they already have adequate insight into the communications styles of colleagues and subordinates because of their own interactions with them. Or because they are cc:ed on correspondence that matters. We must not be shortsighted and misleading as the truth is that it is always important and relevant to learn how one's people rate and rank their own effectiveness. Of course, getting people to submit the "worst practices" and stupid emails they sent would truly be a fool's errand for a performance review. But gaining insight into your staff perceptions — quickly and cheaply — from the examples they themselves choose might strike you as an ideal way to improve one's own effectiveness as a communicator and leader.

1 comment:

Reign226 said...

Might find these a relevant read for the topic:

Not sure if , bucutting down the conversation can help or harm mission critical projects like those at kfelst I think it's a bit of common sense that communication should be optimized only to where necessary. But this may run a risk of miscommunication on the other hand which is worse than overcommunication...