How IT Managers Can Do A Better Job At Email

We can always be working to become better at creating emails
We can always be working to become better at creating emails
Image Credit: AJ Cann

Despite the arrival of a multitude of different ways for us to communicate with each other via all of the different social media tools that have shown up over the past few years, it turns out that we still use email as the primary way that we communicate in the office. We’ve been doing this for a long time and you’d think that our IT manager skills would have allowed us to become very good at using it. However, if you take a look at a lot of the different emails that each of us receives every day, it’s pretty clear that a lot of us could still use some help in learning how to create better emails.

It’s All About The Acknowledgment

A lot of us spend a great deal of time and IT manager training trying to get the words that we use in our emails just right. It turns out this is great, but in order for the emails that we both send and receive to be effective, it is just as important what we do with an email that we receive. What we don’t want to have happen is that that people who send you an email feel that the process is not complete.

When you receive an email that requires a commitment from you, it can as simple as agreeing to attend a meeting, you need to send a reply back to the sender. Your confirmation does not have to be lengthy, it can be quick. However, by taking the time to send it you will be providing the other party with the closure that they are looking for. Now that they know that the thing that they have been discussing with you has been wrapped up their attention can be focused elsewhere.

Make It Shorter

A fundamental problem with the emails that a lot of us write is that they are just too long. I am more than willing to admit that I write like I think and things can get quite wordy at times. IT managers need to keep their audience in mind and not overwhelm them with long emails. This problem is so common that an abbreviated phrase has been invented to describe the situation where you receive an email that is too long: “TL;DR” – too long, didn’t read.

The way to solve this problem is to pause before you hit the “send” button. You then need to go back and reread your email. What you want to do is to remove any words that are unnecessary. There will always be some text that is not required. Now that you have your entire email written out, you’ll have an easier time making it smaller while still making sure that it clearly communicates the points that you want to get across.

Short Signatures Are Better Signatures

One area in which we have all abused emails has to do with our signature. Quick question: how many lines make up your signature right now? Do you have any of those cute animated GIFs that cause things to move around? Additionally, as we taken on more responsibilities we often let the world know by adding lines to our email signature to let everyone who receives our email just how important we are.

What’s happened here is that we’ve forgotten just exactly why we put a signature on an email in the first place. When someone reads our email, and then wants to contact us, they’ll take a look at our signature in order to either get our email address or our phone number. That’s all that a signature is really required to do. Any additional information that we are including is generally just fluff that can be cut so that our emails are not so long.

What All Of This Means For You

A responsibility of any IT manager is to exchange information with other people in the office in order to ensure that his or her team is working on the right tasks and to make IT team building happen. Although we have a number of different tools that we can use to accomplish this task thanks to the arrival of social media, we still tend to use email. However, many of us don’t do a good job of using email well.

One of the things that we often overlook is that email is really a two-way street. Yes, we may create and send a very well crafted email, but what we need to understand is that when someone asks us to do something via email we need to acknowledge it. By doing so, we’ll provide them with closure and allow them to focus on other things. Lengthy emails often never get read. We need to double check our emails before we send them and make sure that they are as short as we can make them. Finally, our signature is an important part of any email. However, it’s there so that people know how to get in touch with us. If you have additional advertising as a part of your signature, then delete it and make it as short as possible.

Email is a part of every IT manager’s life. We want the emails that we send to get read and acted upon. In order to make this happen, we need to understand how our emails will be used and create them to fill this role. Start creating emails that are easy to read and you’ll be able to accomplish a lot more!

– Dr. Jim Anderson
Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World IT Management Skills™

Question For You: How long do you think that a good email should be?

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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

By this point in your career I’m pretty sure that all of us have at one time or another attended one of our industry’s conferences. You know the drill: you fly in, check into your hotel, go register for the conference, determine what sessions you want to attend, mix and mingle with other people attending the conference and maybe even go out at night and close down a bar or two,. You know and I know that there are real benefits to attending these conferences, but when we’re using our IT manager skills to talk with our bosses who have to pay the bill, it can be quite a challenge to get them to say yes.