Those cloning experiments sure seem to have only been able to create more sheep so far – and that’s not going to help overworked IT managers! It seems as though we have more things to do and less time than ever to get them done. Arguably the most important part of any IT managers job is to communicate with your staff. How you go about doing that can be critical to your overall success. I’ve got news for you: if you’re using email to do this, then you’re not showing leadership and you are doing it wrong.
Email Has No Feeling
I don’t care how much of a cold and impersonal IT manager you are. Every time that you talk with someone on your team, you include some level of emotions in what you are saying. You may be angry, you may be happy, not matter what – you are something.
The problem with email is that it’s nothing. Your emails are never happy, sad, or mad. The person that you’ve sent your email to can’t tell what you were feeling when you wrote your email.
What this means is that the possibility of a miscommunication skyrockets when we use email. Since we can’t properly let the reader of our email know how we were feeling when we wrote the email, the possibility of getting signals mixed up is very probable.
Email Creates Negative Responses
What do you do when you read an email that has been sent to you? I’m willing to bet that more often than not, you jot off a quick reply to the sender right then and there. Without giving it a lot of thought.
Things get even more tricky when we get negative emails – someone yelling at us or complaining about something. What happens is that we get bent out of shape and our anger wells up inside of us and then comes rushing out through our fingertips as we type out that heated email that we’re going to send back.
We all know what the right thing to do here is (even if we don’t always do it). When we get an email that makes us mad, we really need to stand up and walk away. Don’t reply to that email right off the bat. In fact, if at all possible, don’t reply to it today – wait a day. That will allow everything to cool down and you’ll be able to craft a reply that you won’t regret later on.
Email Creates Debates That Are Not Needed
Because of the anonymous nature of email and because we really can’t figure out what the other people are thinking, debates can go on and on. It’s very hard to stop a debate once it’s stated via email.
Miscommunication and the simple fact that it’s so easy to just flip another email back to the sender contribute to this problem. Even after the primary issue has been resolved, the discussion can go on and on as both parties continue to explore.
Debates are one of the key communication areas that are not well served by email. The back-and-forth nature of this type of communication along with the need to “see” what the other side really means results in the need for face-to-face contact.
What All Of This Means For You
Look, email is a great management tool. I use it, you use it, we all use it. The key is to not over use it or use it in the wrong situations when you are talking with your IT dream team. IT managers need to be able to identify when and where the correct times to use emails are.
Email has three distinct problems associated with it. First, it does a lousy job of communicating emotion and this can lead to confusion on the part of the receiver of your email. Next it can cause people to become instantly angry – they don’t take the time to think about what they’ve read before they fire off a response. Finally, email makes it too easy to keep talking about an issue long after it should have been put to bed.
I’m not suggesting that IT managers stop using email. Far from it. Rather, I’d actually like to see IT managers use email as their communication technique of last resort. Pick up the phone or walk over to someone’s office instead of firing off that next email. You just might end up being glad that you did!
– Dr. Jim Anderson
Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World IT Management Skills™
Question For You: How do you think that a IT manager can work accurate emotion into the emails that you do send?
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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time
Oh, oh, looks like it’s budgeting time again. Whoever had any training in how to do this? Sure you’ve always managed your personal money fairly well, but now the company is asking you to create a budget that will take care of your team for the next year. Oh, and it’s due tomorrow. What’s an IT manager to do?