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Tips for Managing Your Office Communications

|Feb 4|magazine12 min read

 

Written by Peggy Noe Stevens

“YOUR SCHEDULE IS NOT WORKING FOR OUR MEETING,” shouted the executive on an email sent to his employee…or was he shouting?

Not really, he was just using all caps and bold because it was easier to type. But who knew?

 “U R going to LOL when U C this email,” read an email sent from an employee in his twenties to an employee in his fifties, who had to decode the message, but got lost at "LOL."

If either of these scenarios sound familiar to your work situation, you are not alone. In all the image coaching that I do with employees, technology is the number one issue that usually revolves around office relationships and how images are perceived. That’s right - relationships that go beyond a Facebook post letting everyone know where you are having coffee or vacationing. When building relationships with employees, checking on them in person or stopping by their desk to actually have a conversation can truly pay off. Why? Because the next time they receive an email from you, it supports the impression you made on them.

In business, it seems that many have lost the human touch in dealing with others in the office. An employee would rather drop 40 one-line emails than take a face-to-face 15-minute meeting that could settle an issue immediately. My favorites are the ‘bandwagon’ emails, in which everyone is involved through countless ccs, bcc’s and forwards.

I recently heard that we receive an average of 80 emails a day. If you listen closely, standing on the floor of any office building, you can hear employees at their desks mumbling under their breath because they received an unwanted email, or are taxed with a land-slide of emails after they replicated.

Here are a few tips to help understand when you SHOULD NOT be electronic:

  • Heated issues, or conflicts in the office that need to be resolved.
  • Personal performance reviews of employees and sensitive situations that could be forwarded to others.
  • If the email is going to be an epistle, where you could easily explain over a phone call or in person.
  • Hiding behind an email to deliver tough, difficult messages which can often be misconstrued - a verbal dialog here will be much more effective and efficient.

Additional issues to keep in mind:

  • Text jargon does not always translate to business emails.
  • In business, some people prefer not to send messages on their cell phones because they consider them to be personal devices.
  • Do iPhones and BlackBerries stay in silent mode during meetings, or are people checking messages under the table as if no one notices?
  • Many companies have dress code policies to guide their employees as to the culture of the company. Where are the ‘Netiquette’ policies and should they be in place? 
  • What is the policy for using bcc, send receipts, etc?
  • When is it appropriate to use text in business vs. email, vs. face-to face meetings?
  • When scheduling meetings, do you have a software tool that allows employees to respond to meeting requests?
  • When is it appropriate to use Skype?

All technology tools are essential to conducting business, but you should stop and think about when and how you project your professional image. Let technology be your aid in conducting business, but let others get to know you as well.

About the Author: Peggy Noe Stevens runs a global image branding business, helping companies develop exceptional talent by teaching confidence, self-awareness and professional presence. She began her career in hospitality and marketing with Hyatt Hotels Corporation and moved to the Brown-Forman Corporation where she led an event planning department and also the new frontier of experiential marketing directing an impressive portfolio of wine and spirit brand destinations. Stevens is also the world’s first female Master Bourbon Taster and has launched the first Bourbon Women’s organization across the United States.  She has been called the ‘Oprah of entertaining,’ and a ‘life style maven’.  She has represented Kentucky for such notables as Julia Child, Bobby Flay and the Prince of Spain.