Does Your Email Begin With a Request for Action?
Clearing out your email inbox is one of the small pleasures of life when you can accomplish it. The stack of emails that continue to pile up hour-by-hour is difficult for even the most productive leaders to navigate.
When It comes to composing and processing email, the best leaders live by a rule they institute across their teams and organizations. If you want me to do something other than read the email, place your request for action in the subject heading or the first sentence, whichever makes the most sense.
Emails without a request for action may go unread or unnoticed for hours and days. Good leaders don’t take the chance that the email might go unnoticed. Make the request and put it up front.
When everyone on a team operates by this rule, emails become easier to manage. Team members know exactly what others need from them or whether an email can wait until later. Beginning emails with a request for action offers the team another important advantage. You’ll find that some emails don’t get written because no clear action is imminent. Fewer emails make everyone smile.
And here lies the Achilles heel as to why email is abused so often, "When everyone on a team operates by this rule"... It is so hard to get people to follow standard email etiquette. I would like to see more innovation in email software to help guide users to write better emails and even restrict what can be sent. How many hours in the day do people sit in front of their computers reading and composing useless emails? There is a lot of talk about too many or inefficient meetings, but if I were to take a guess, time spent wasted is far more prevalent.