As a business owner, you will have to decide from the get-go on how formal you expect your employees’ correspondence with email to be and set that policy in writing.
Many employees forget that business email communication demonstrates how professional the employee is and this communication should be limited to business correspondence. Forwarding jokes, chain letters and related items shows a lack of professionalism.
However, most employees break the “rules” because they aren’t given guidelines, or it’s a soft rule that even the business owner doesn’t abide by.
It’s important that the rules are set from the start. Business Insider reports that the average U.S. employee spends one-fourth of his or her work time looking through emails each day. That’s a lot of emails, and as a business owner, you want to make sure each employee knows how to respond appropriately. Etiquette rules have changed now that more and more people conduct business through email and the Internet, but some things never change:
• Include a clear, direct subject such as a reason for the email. Some people will only open their email based on the subject line.
• Use a professional email address to avoid accidental communication, and think about what the email address says and implies.
• Think twice before hitting “reply all.” No one else wants to know your business unless it directly applies to them.
• It’s easy to get caught up in a conversational tone, but remember this is a professional environment and address peers as such unless you know he or she prefers a less professional title or name.
• Stop using exclamation points. You’re no longer a pre-teen in junior high, so there’s no reason to get overly excited about words or thoughts in an email.
• Avoid using humor: Written communication can be cumbersome, and sometimes trying to translate humor can get lost when the correct tone or facial expression isn’t used.
• Be aware of cultural language differences and miscommunications. Make sure you are clear on the meaning of a word or phrase before you decide to place it in writing.
• Answer all emails. If you don’t know the answer, a simple acknowledgment of the email and a reply back that you are working toward resolving the issue will suffice.
• Don’t wait to respond to message. If someone asks you for something, let him or her know you’re looking for the information and will provide updates.
• Proofread your message before sending. Don’t depend upon spell check. Ensure you’re sending your email to the appropriate person. Even when you reply to a message, make sure it’s only to messages that are ready to be sent.
• Respond appropriately. A simple “OK” might work in some situations, but using it when a more complete response is needed shows disrespect. If you’re responding from your phone or don’t have time for a complete response, wait until you’re seated at your computer.
• Be clear and concise. No one wants to read a rambling message only to come to the end and be unsure what is needed or being requested.
The bottom line is this: If you wouldn’t feel comfortable conveying your message by typing a letter and mailing it out on company letterhead, then you shouldn’t send it on company email either. ♦