To E-Mail Or Not To E-Mail
To E-Mail Or Not To E-Mail
Tim Burress (E-mail Etiquette and Organization Specialist) gives expert video advice on: How do I decide if a business e-mail is the most appropriate form of communication?; Should I introduce a new employee to the staff through e-mail?; Is it appropriate to resign through business e-mail? and more...
How do I decide if a business e-mail is the most appropriate form of communication?
To decide whether a business e-mail is the most appropriate form of communication, a general decision should be made for when you're going to communicate. You've got a lot of different ways to communicate today. You can do it face to face, you can have a telephone call, you can leave a voicemail, by instant message, e-mail, or even text message. There are so many ways to leave a message, so what I think what you need to think about is the message that you want to convey to decide whether a business e-mail is appropriate. An e-mail doesn't convey the same message that a voicemail conveys, even if you say exactly what you've typed in an e-mail, because voicemail allows for vocal inflection, whereas e-mail doesn't.
Should I write personal e-mails from my business e-mail account?
Corporations generally have a policy to limit personal e-mails from business accounts. In other words, all e-mails at particular companies should be business e-mails and that personal stuff should remain on personal e-mail accounts. The reality is, you still get personal e-mails at work as you might get an e-mail from your kids, you might get an e-mail from your parents, from friends, or so forth. So, being cautious about what you store and keep on your business computer which is personal information, I think is very good advice. Also trying to limit some of your personal e-mails on your business account is good advice. Move some of it to a space where it's personal and try to keep your business stuff separate.
Should I introduce a new employee to the staff through e-mail?
I think it's ok to introduce someone on a business e-mail to a company. It's good to state that "So-and-so is joining" or "has joined the company and I'd like to introduce this person". Make sure that you give a little background on who they are, where they came from and where they went to school. That's fine as most people may not have an opportunity to meet that person, and they may just know the person through the e-mail communication. If it's a smaller company, maybe there's a more intimate setting where you can introduce the person, say at an all-hands meeting where everyone's there together. But at a larger corporation, sometimes that's default, and so introducing someone on the business e-mail to a company is the best way to communicate.
Should I send contracts through e-mail?
It is acceptable to send contracts through e-mail, and indeed often a sender will send the contract and require a receipt, meaning “this is a legal document I'm sending to you, signed, print out from an email, sign and send back”, as they want to know that it got to the receiver. E-mail doesn't usually fail, but with something as important as a contract someone will use “receipt required” in a business e-mail to make sure that the person got it. Thus when sending a contract through business e-mail, the sender will have to check the box “receipt”, making sure they did get the email and the contract.
Should I send an announcement through business e-mail?
Business e-mail is an excellent spot for corporate announcements. If a company wants to announce they are doing something, say they are paving a parking lot or you need to remove all your food from the refrigerator in building 4 by Friday, then a business e-mail is perfect for this. These announcements through business e-mails just need to be targeted, because there is no reason for people in the UK to get a message about a parking lot being paved in Oklahoma. It does not pertain to them. Or about someone storing their food in the refrigerator in Nashville if they are in the Chicago office. So think about sending announcements in a corporate environment through business e-mail, and just make sure they are specific and targeted otherwise they would have been unnecessary e-mails for people.
Is it acceptable to comment on a rumor through business e-mail?
Business e-mail is not a good or acceptable space to spread or comment on rumours. Rumours in themselves are not great to spread, no matter how you're spreading them, but typing it into a business e-mail and sending a rumour out, sending out something you've heard about someone else, is dangerous. This is because now you've documented it in a business e-mail it's very easy to see where that rumour started, they can tell it's from you just by going to the bottom of the business e-mail. So rumours can be very damaging to not only the person that sends it but also of course the person that it's about, and often times they're proved wrong.
Should I use e-mail to notify employees of changes to their salary and benefits?
To e-mail about such topics as money and health care, benefits, 401Ks, stock options, or a new health plan a company's rolling out can be seen as inappropriate. It is perhaps best to make an announcement detailing what is going to happen, and then to offer an opportunity for people to come face to face to a meeting, because you know those types of topics, like health care, money and finances, are going to invite a lot of questions. Therefore if you move it out of the business e-mail environment into a face-to-face one, you can avoid a lot of the e-mails going back and forth.
Should I use e-mail to give employees their performance reviews?
I don't believe its acceptable to put a performance review into a business e-mail for you employees. Again as you forfeit having the performance review conversation face to face, or at least on the phone if the person can't make it face to face as maybe they're at too great of a distance. Then document the conversation in an e-mail, as an e-mail is a great way to document a conversation, whether by the telephone or face-to-face, that you've had about the performance review. But to send someone's performance review and grade them on how they've done over the year in a business e-mail without having a conversation, I think borderlines with being offensive in some respect to that person.
Should I use e-mail to fire an employee?
I don't think it's OK to fire an employee through business e-mail. Obviously if you have a conversation with them, I think that would be adventitious and wise to have the conversation and tell them face to face why their being let go, and to then document that conversation in an e-mail following the face to face conversation. That's a perfectly appropriate use of business e-mailing when firing an employee.
Should I use e-mail to inform employees they've been laid off?
I believe laying people off through a business email, in other words sending out an e-mail to people that you're about to lay off telling them that they're going to be laid off, and the first time they hear that news is through this business e-mail, may not be the best way to communicate with them. It might be best to have a face to face kind of conversation. Now, if the people you are laying off are some three-thousand people across the globe, it's tough to have a face-to-face because of the time-zones and so forth. So perhaps, an email where you're suggesting these lay-offs, that more things are going to come, and gently breaking the news in a business e-mail, and then having a specific face-to-face with the people that are being laid off from the managers, is probably a better way to do it than a blanket cutting of the sales force or something with a business email.
Is it appropriate to resign through business e-mail?
To resign through a business e-mail is something I don't think is appropriate. You really want to have a conversation with your employer. You're resigning for a reason, maybe things didn't work out there, or you've got a new opportunity. Most of the time employers want to know why you're leaving, and you want to end on a good basis, too. I think that's a good way to leave one employment and enter into the next, try to end on a positive note. Most people want to have a face-to-face and most enterprises have an exit interview process. To resign via a business e-mail is a bit cold and impersonal, and so I wouldn't recommend that you resign via a business e-mail. Some people will resign via e-mail with a delayed send. In other words, they'll set up their resignation to be sent Friday at 5:00, knowing that they're going to resign and be out of the building, perhaps, by Friday at 4:00, avoiding the confrontation of a face-to-face resignation. I don't know if that's the best way to use business e-mail, but an appropriate way to use is through delayed send.