Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Blast the DAMN Email!

Seriously! I have been trying to find time to write this post for some time now. Over the years I have been hearing time after time about companies who have serious communication issues. I have worked for and consulted for companies like this. As hard as one works to improve the problem, the reality is bad communication in organizations is like smoking, overeating, & cussing. Sometimes its just a hard habit to break.

Communication problems are not new but what seems to be a commonality in companies in more recent years is they seem to rely too heavily on EMail rather than picking up the phone or walking 10 feet across the hall to talk "in person" to their coworker, supervisor, or owner. Personally I think hours of employee labor could be saved if folks would consider the good old fashion way of communicating.

Don't get me wrong, I too have been known to rely on it too heavily at times as well. I'm not perfect by any means but I can recognize that at some point a little personal contact can do the organization and people involved a great deal of good. I had a situation like this just yesterday and could tell when one individual who threw out the ball (opinions overhead) they started feeling bad that they did. I picked up the phone as soon as I could and I think the result is that we are both more clear about what was going on and are better equipped that we were before to handle the situation proactively as we move forward. Had I let the problem continue via email we may not have been able to move on and get it behind us as quickly as we did.

I am not sure where and when this overuse of email problem starts. I do know that I have to remind my students often to use the phone when they don't hear from group members. What I have noticed is that it seems to be a cultural acceptance issue. I have one client who use to send "written notes" before email became a popular means of communication. That same client now uses email to demand information from each other, blame others for the job not getting done, and drag the problem on for much longer than necessary. Imagine how much more productive they would be if they put people first and blast the DAMN email in their business. Until someone steps up and says STOP it the shit will continue to stir. Employees and Managers alike need to recognize when the email is driving communication down and do something about it.


  1. Great post, Donna! I'm on the wall about this because I work remotely from most of my team - and in a different time zone! - so I do a lot per email. I think a lot of time can be saved and problems can be avoided with a well-written (as opposed to rambly and poorly structured) email. But I definitely agree that some topics and conversations require a conversation.

    What do you think of the idea of offering basic business communication training as part of on boarding?

  2. Sorry Laura...for some reason I did not get an email when you commented. I think this is a good idea and one I use to do with one of my company Employee Orientation programs that I use to manage. We called the program "Living the Values" with communication and team play being two of the eight values. Some of the problems is that poorly written and primarily negative emails really hurts both and starts to draw lines and build walls between departments and employees.


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