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  • Are bosses becoming ruder - using email as a managment tool

    I just read this article on the BBC News Website. It triggered a comment David makes in the GTD Fast CDs that email is the most effective way of handing across a piece of work because it is non-intrusive and complete.

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/business/4059077.stm

    Any thoughts/comments on this?

    I think this might be a case of societal resistance?

    Paul

  • #2
    The article says ""Senior managers are getting between 300 and 500 e-mails a week and a brusque tone is setting in," one trainer told the BBC. ...The publication quoted a study of 1,200 executives... It found that more than half spent two hours per day answering e-mail at work - which equates to about four months a year. ...As a result of lack of time, language is becoming compressed. ...Please becoming pls is just one example."

    "Pls" is not brusque, it's efficient. When I see lengthy emails, I know someone's spinning his wheels and not getting work done. Email should be succinct and to the point, like voicemail; it's neither a substitute for a hard-copy memo or letter, nor a replacement for face time. Critical working relationships are too important to conduct this impersonally unless the parties have established some prior rapport beforehand, unless it's unavoidable. And time is much to precious to add personalized stroking to every email a manager sends, which is how I read the recommendation that messages be "imbued with emotional context as well as content." Any good HR department and company attorney should also counsel against "emotional" messages, since they could prejudice or compromise future relationships with that employee.

    Better that the exec pops in on the employee to thank him or her for jobs well done, or at least picks up the phone and calls.

    Comment


    • #3
      Re: Are bosses becoming ruder - using email as a managment t

      Originally posted by Paul@Pittsburgh
      I just read this article on the BBC News Website. It triggered a comment David makes in the GTD Fast CDs that email is the most effective way of handing across a piece of work because it is non-intrusive and complete.
      Paul
      For this very reason, I'd like to recommend Nonviolent Communication as a companion book to GTD. It is an excellent book about connecting heart-to-heart (rather than head-to-head), which is good before making a request.

      Comment


      • #4
        I second Non-violent Communication - great book.

        In terms of people getting 300-500 emails a day my comment is that poor leadership gets exactly what it deserves!

        Who in their right mind wants to work in an environment like that. I know from experience that 80% of those emails are CYA correspondence.

        I am so pleased to have escaped the corporate treadmill - because now I can get stuff done and build an environment where my staff can too.

        Comment


        • #5
          E-mail: yet another way to avoid doing real work.

          Comment


          • #6
            If those managers are anything like the ones I've come across, they could double their productivity by learning to touch-type. Using 'pls' instead of 'please' doesn't even save you a second if you can type properly.

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by tallmarvin
              E-mail: yet another way to avoid doing real work.
              Right on!

              and meetings with no agenda or outcome!

              Should right a book ... how to avoid real work ...

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              • #8
                Do not treat it personally.

                I think we should not take e-mails too personally. We should not expect baroque statements - especially in the intra-company communication. Clever boss sends you an e-mail only when it is necessary and makes it as short as possible (he does not want to waste his and your time). So it is rather proof of effectiveness - not laziness. But if you have a stupid boss nothing will help - even this "Non-violent Communication" book.
                TesTeq

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                • #9
                  First rules we teach all new members of my team.

                  Rule #1) No thank you emails; the thank you is assumed in the request.

                  Rule #2) Turn off the email spell checker you don't have that much time to waste; we can read it and we won't laugh at you.

                  Rule #3) You WILL learn GTD by week 6.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    This year, I had a conversation with one of my clients regarding the pitfalls of e-mail. His bottom line: E-mail can be a very efficient means to distribute information (sending attached documents as an example to a large group of people); however, e-mail is typically a very poor means to communicate. Unless the topic of the message is relatively simple and routine, my client has elected to communicate the old fashioned way-by phone or by face to face meetings. His point is e-mail messages can too often be misconstrued and spawn more e-mail messages thereby harming relationships with co-workers or clients not to mention wasting time.

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                    • #11
                      I don't agree with the premise that email is a poor means to communicate. It is efficient and collaborative. When used properly, the more complex the discussion the more useful email becomes.

                      I know many people who claim to prefer verbal communication over written, but the fact is their verbal communication skills are sadly lacking as well. They drop in on people or call them on the phone because they don't want to take the time to think through what they want to say and put it in writing

                      This isn't a universal, but in my opinion someone who prefers verbal communication over email is more likely to simply be a lazy or defensive communicator. They prefer the ambiguity of not having a record of their communications over the precision of writing down their thoughts, ideas, or instructions because the record is then available for later scrutiny if a misunderstanding arises.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by spectecGTD
                        They drop in on people or call them on the phone because they don't want to take the time to think through what they want to say and put it in writing

                        This isn't a universal, but in my opinion someone who prefers verbal communication over email is more likely to simply be a lazy or defensive communicator. They prefer the ambiguity of not having a record of their communications over the precision of writing down their thoughts, ideas, or instructions because the record is then available for later scrutiny if a misunderstanding arises.
                        Some people are "verbal processors." They think it out by talking. Some people are horribly dyxlexic and write like second-graders. (One of the smartest programmers I knew had that problem, but somehow he managed to negotiate enormous increases in pay in each job he secured.) Should these people be penalized because their cognitive styles differ from the majority? More importantly, should their companies be shortchanged because someone arbitrarily decrees that written communication is better than oral communication, thus depriving the firm of some of their contributions?

                        Sometimes you need to be in the presence of the person you're trying to reach, or understand, to have available as much feedback as possible (tone of voice, body language, eye contact, etc.). I think the point you make, that sometimes people don't want to have a record of their communications "because the record is then available for later scrutiny if a misunderstanding arises" is a sound reason for refraining from using email unless the content is likely to be unambiguous. Email exchanges are more likely to create or escalate conflicts and misunderstandings, not resolve them.

                        The point that emails are ideal for disseminating information, not communicating, makes admirable sense to me.

                        JMO

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                        • #13
                          spectecGTD:

                          I have known this client for over 15 years and I can assure you he is not lazy. If you met him, your perception would be far different from what you just wrote. I happen to believe his opinion about e-mail is very accurate.

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                          • #14
                            I want to be careful how I say this, because I'm painting with a broad brush but don't want it to be so broad that it smears the canvass...

                            I agree that there are people who are admirable verbal communicators but not very good at writing - I have dealt with some of them. However, I believe they are rarer that one might assume, because there are so many lazy communicators who find this to be a convenient excuse. I observe people spewing their confusion and lack of mental discipline all over the place, interrupting work and causing general mayhem just because they want to rely on others to help them do what they are too undisciplined to do themselves - organize their thoughts. This is where my mind usually goes when some tells me they like to "think it out by talking."

                            So I certainly don't think the verbal processors should be denied their opportunity, nor should the organization deny itself the benefit of their talents. But neither do I have much patience with people who hide behind this as an excuse, which is what I think is really going on in the majority of cases.

                            Having said all that, I continue to maintain that email should be regarded as MAINLY for communicating and that the dissemination of information is a secondary benefit. (Exception taken for those rare individuals who just can't get it together in writing but are brilliant talkers).


                            GJR: I'm not suggesting that your client is lazy in the general sense, but I am suggesting that this is a typical attitude of a "lazy communicator".

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                            • #15
                              "GJR: I'm not suggesting that your client is lazy in the general sense, but I am suggesting that this is a typical attitude of a "lazy communicator"."

                              Sorry, spectecGTD, his attitude has formed over severals years experience with e-mail created conflicts arising from misunderstandings that were magnified by careless or deliberate forwarding of messages. Of course, the subject matter was complex and upon reflection, a conference call or meeting would have avoided the problems created by e-mail.

                              I would venture to say that people like my client have formed views about e-mail from negative experiences. Your opinion of a typical attitude of a "lazy communicator" ignores the fact that "lazy communicators" overuse e-mail instead of providing clearer communications in face to face meeetings in the appropriate context.

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