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!
Each Monday my staff and I gather for our Monday morning meeting. Prior to Covid-19 we met in person, but now we meet virtually. We have a long checklist of tasks that we review to prepare for the week and to review the month ahead.
This week while working remotely, we got a good laugh when Keri, the Director of Operations, shared that her husband Ed keeps “checking on her” around 11am each day. Prior to the pandemic Keri spent one day a week working in the Concordia offices and the other days she worked from home. Simultaneously, Keri’s husband worked out of an office in D.C. Keri wasn’t sure what this check-in was all about, so she asked Ed.
Ed reported that he regularly schedules time in his day to walk through his department in order to have an opportunity to casually check in with his staff. Now that he is working virtually, he continues the walkabout, but has shifted his attention to his wife and kids. His family is taking some time to get used to this new interaction!
For anyone who has attended my leadership programs or received coaching from me, I am a big fan of management by walking around. It’s great to pop in and see how your employees are doing, to chat informally, and to hear about their projects and their lives in real time. So, now that many of us are working remotely, how can you do this?
- Schedule team check-ins at the start or end of each day.
- Use a group chat feature to send a short message each morning or evening.
- Arrange one-on-ones with your direct reports frequently — at least once a week.
- Send funny anecdotes throughout the week.
What methods have you and your team found to stay connected while working remotely?