‘Twas a week before Christmas
When all through the town
Every creature was stirring
As video meetings abound.
Work products were paused
By the employees with care
In hopes that St. Nicholas
Soon would be there.
The colleagues were dressy
From the waist up, it’s true
Remembering office parties and merriment
And feeling a bit blue.
Every face was covered
With masks and face shields
Sending grandma food from a distance
All portioned and sealed.
When suddenly my email
Ping and ponged with a clatter
I sprang to my standing desk
To see what was the matter.
A problem with your colleagues
I dialed in with a flash
Together we talked
A manager was brash.
Our talking revealed
Mean words fallen like snow
Tainting relationships and productivity
Above and below.
When what to my wondering eyes
An enlightened and humble leader
Oh what a dear!
With kindness and generosity
So lively and quick
I knew in a moment
She was sent by St. Nick!
More rapid than eagles
Her words and actions they came
And she praised and appreciated
As she called them by name.
Now Work Ethic!
Now Kindness!Now Humor and Vixen!
On Patience! On Collaboration!
On Caring and Blitzen!
The pandemic started in March
And then all through the fall,
Necessitating accountability, flexibility
Appreciation to all.
The leader wrote notes of good cheer
And gave her team a big whistle
And away they all flew
Like the down of a thistle.
But I heard her exclaim
As she rode out of sight
“Happy Christmas to all,
And to all a good night!”
On the same day I received e-mails from two men, Farik and Dave, in different organizations. While both men are about the same age and in a similar place in their careers, their e-mails were very different.
Dave’s e-mail concerned me because it had these issues:
- The salutation was “hey.”
- There were two misspellings.
- The tone, while positive and pleasant, had a fair amount of slang.
- The subject line didn’t reflect the topic of the message.
Farik’s e-mail was professional and had none of those problems. When I complimented Farik, he said that his mentor took him aside after a snafu and shared with him the importance of e-mail etiquette. Those lessons came at a cost during his internship, but had made a lasting impression. Farik was glad he learned the e-mail lesson early in his career!
And the most important email rule of all is to “never write anything in an e-mail that you wouldn’t say directly to the person in a face-to-face conversation.” In fact, remember that whatever you write can, and likely will, be passed throughout the office and potentially to a news source.
Click here for more tips on e-mail etiquette
I have written about this topic before, and it’s as important as ever:
Two weeks ago I shared many of the techniques that my client Sally used effectively to create a productive meeting for her environmental lobbying community group. Below are some of the constructive suggestions I will make to her when we debrief:
- If it’s appropriate for your meeting, record it. It’s a fantastic way to watch yourself and improve. No better learning than by reviewing the actual event!
- If some of the participants are on video, and others are only connected to audio, give priority to those who are on video. In other words, don’t repeat or read slides to the attendees who are listening but may be multitasking in the background. Reading to those who have chosen not to join video limits any motivation to join visually and to be more engaged.
- Here’s an easy one…Put the camera slightly above your eye level. Otherwise your eyes will look somewhat closed.
- Request that a colleague take notes, monitor the chat, and interject as needed. It’s too much for anyone to expertly facilitate a call and oversee these additional elements as well. Get help.
- Remind those on the call that have dogs barking in the background, or young children interjecting, to please mute themselves. Unless of course they are your dogs or your children, in which case try your best to ignore them!
- Leave at least 10 minutes at the end of the call to summarize accomplishments and review action items. Make sure that agreements are understood and repeated.
And in between your Zoom meetings, be sure to get up, move, and have a glass of water!