| Unfortunately, e-mail has turned out to be a mixed blessing. Many users don't know the difference between synchronous and asynchronous communication, and assume they have to answer an e-mail right away. So if they get too many e-mails in a short time, they feel overwhelmed. To accomodate this, follow these best practices. |
- Limit frequency. How often do people really need updates? Don't try to cover all contingencies with "just in case" e-mail blasts. You'll only annoy the users. Try to limit the frequency to what makes the most sense for the needs of the users. This will take some investigation, but as a rule of thumb don't send a report more than once a week.
- Limit length. If a message is too long, it will be skimmed or skipped entirely. As with frequency, don't try to cover all contingencies. Include what's of high priority or high importance. You can post other items on your intranet or the Internet and just provide a summary and link.
- Think out the distribution. Not everyone needs every e-mail that goes out. The days of "nice to know" e-mails are long behind us. If people don't really need to know, they generally don't want to know. Adding to their information overload won't win you their accolades. Respecting their time probably will.
- Change tactics. If you e-mail someone and don't get a reply or there is a problem with understanding each other, try another method. For example, pick up the phone.