The Keyboard is Mightier than the Sword!
By Dr. Julie Miller
e-mails leave your employees’ mailboxes on a daily basis? The
average per day stands at 71.51 (Source: yedda.com). Do the
calculation. Multiply that number by the number of your employees.
The total should give you pause, as each e-mail has the potential to
build or to implode your business.
one is asking you to inspect each and every message leaving your
employees’ sent folder. Naturally, you expect everyone in your
employ to use common sense and courtesy when communicating with the
public, whether they are customers or colleagues. Or do they?
Consider these real life stories:
Damaged: A Fortune 1000 company fatally damaged its relationship
with a significant Japanese firm based on an e-mail from the
accounting department. In response to a query, the company’s account
representative answered with a two-word lower case message. The
result? The Asian company went elsewhere for its purchases. How many
e-mails leave without your review?
Resolution: Do a communication audit. Just think—what if you
really ticked off a client and he or she forwarded back to you all
your sent e-mails? Take a random sampling of employees’ e-mails and
see what it reveals. From there, begin a dialogue, offer training
and develop some parameters around acceptable messaging.
“I am a very busy person. I’m just too slammed to follow any writing
rules,” said the Human Resource director of an international
consulting firm. She continued, “I just let it rip - no punctuation,
spelling or capitalization - those rules are for amateurs.” The
result? Fired. Why? Disrespect for her colleagues and a truculent
attitude. Obviously, she does not play well with others. Can you
just imagine how she treated the firm’s clients? How many e-mails
leave without your review?
Resolution: Craft an e-mail style guide as e-mail now extends
your company’s brand. First, facilitate a discussion among your
teams about how they will treat clients and peers through the
written word. Topics might include greetings and closings, signature
block content, time allowed before returning e-mail messages. Then,
determine what the standards you can all agree to regarding writing
style and tone. This guide will reflect your expectations around the
care and treatment of all.
An employee sued her employer, a large national bank. Her suit was
for sexual harassment, racism and damaged reputation. The
back-story: An employee e-mailed her instead of a male colleague and
invited her to attend a strip club with all the
trimmings—graphically described in the e-mail. The result? She was
awarded one million dollars. How many e-mails leave without your
Resolution: Decide what will never be put in an e-mail. Everyone
in your organization must follow this to the letter. Some companies
have been burned. A mid-West construction company of the very
wealthy prohibits any customer problem from being sent via the
airwaves. The rule? Walk down the hall. Pick up the phone. Do not
put it in writing.
stories should drive home the point that managing your risk is
paramount. With e-mail now the single most important communication
vehicle today, you must mitigate the damage of destructive messages
that destroy careers, opportunities and reputations.
center decided to do just that. They chose ten employees to monitor.
Because their software program could actually see what they were
doing and writing between calls—eight of the ten were fired. Why?
For writing inappropriate e-mails, downloading porn and
participating in online gambling. This occurred even though they had
received warnings, possessed a HR notebook with the policies, and
saying goes like this: inspect what is expected. Do you know what
your employees are writing? Do you know how much money you are
losing each year by ineffective, inappropriate or illegal messages?
these four steps for cleaning up your communication:
Assess the current state of affairs in regards
Audit selective missives to determine tone,
Develop an action plan for improving the above
through training and coaching.
Publish a style guide along with an e-mail
remains the costliest of all workplace activities. What is it worth
to you to get right?
Read other articles and learn more about
[This article is available at no-cost, on a non-exclusive basis.
Contact PR/PR at 407-299-6128 for details and