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July 21, 2015

Your Constant Emails Aren't Working For Your Team

One of the important critical insights emerging on workplace email is the importance of leaders setting the tone on email use. Clearly, employees won’t be able to curb email volume if their own leaders send them an inordinate amount of irrelevant emails, or if they include too many people on every email communication.


Executive training can be a key to addressing this issue. A recent Harvard Business Review article highlighted the experience of a London-based company, International Power. The firm’s seven-person management team wanted to increase efficiency, and initially figured there was a problem with too many lower-level employees sending emails. Instead, the managers were shocked to learn from a detailed analysis that they personally sent an average of 56 messages a day. The executive team went through trainings to reduce their email volume. As a result, the team’s total email output dropped by 54%, according to HBR.

The 73 other London-based employees followed suit, also reducing their email messages, even without training. The overall result was an annual gain of 10,400 work hours, translating to a 7 percent increase in productivity.

As a result of that experience, HBR suggested that companies can significantly reduce email volume by simply turning to the management team.

They suggested three key tips:

  • Teach executives to be more deliberate in their e-mail use.
  • Ask executives to set a target for reducing the number of messages they send, and include it in their performance goals.
  • Give executives weekly feedback.

Clearly, this company’s experience shows that training top leaders truly works, and that those new practices have a trickledown effect for the entire organization.

Leaders: What can you do today to cut down on unnecessary emails?

--David Grossman


Learn more about email in the workplace and how to make it work effectively for you by reading the free report entitled, The State of Workplace Email 2012

email overload



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