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STOP! Your Horrible Email Behaviors, NOW!

If there is any hope for you as a business professional you need to stop doing the following horrible email behaviors, now!

STOP! Forwarding “FYI” emails

It’s the easiest email you’ll send all day. Click forward. Add email address. Insert FYI. Send. You’re a hero. You’re keeping people in the loop and giving them valuable information,right? Wrong. What you don’t realize is how much of their time you are wasting.

I get this type of email weekly, but I received an FYI email the other day that really got my blood boiling. It had 20 or so replies from various participants, spanning the course of 3 months and multiple, tangential conversations. The subject line no longer matched the conversation. “FYI”, my tuckus! It took me nearly an hour to read, comprehend, formulate and then delete my very explicit response.

Instead of forwarding FYI emails or adding CC addressees to an ongoing conversation, take a few seconds to highlight various sections of the email that would be valuable information to the new recipient. If you’re really feeling ambitious and want the email karma to return to you, draft a few sentences summarizing the conversation. Your coworkers will thank you.

STOP! Sending email to the wrong person

This happens to me several times a day. I get it, my name is “Eric”. There are 5 other “Eric’s” that work at my company. My parents should have known better and named me NoReply, but they didn’t. My name is Eric and this is my curse. But seriously people. Should I really have to suffer because you can’t check the To: field to ensure you’re talking to the right person?

Let me guess, you randomly dial your phone, too?

angry-computerNot only does this waste my time, but it wastes your’s as well and possibly prevents crucial information getting to the right person. What if I was asleep at my desk and didn’t notice your email until days or weeks later? Then we’d have to go through the email dance of getting it to the right person; “Are you sure you’re not the right ‘Eric'”. Followed by an embarrassed emoji and you’ve official wasted even more of my time.

Combine this error with the FYI email and I begin to evaluate if prison is really all that bad.

STOP! Walking over to their desk moments after sending an email

So you just sent a very important email. What to do next? Maybe you should go ask them in person if they’ve read your email. NOT!

I know I’ve got nothing better to do than to sit staring at my email window, hoping beyond hope that I’ll receive a glorious email from you, but the last thing I want to do is read it in front of you so you can see how truly slow a reader I am. Save me some dignity, please.

If it was that important to talk to me, don’t send the email, come talk to me from the start. I’m usually very open about people coming up to my desk to ask questions. Often a face to face discussion will be more efficient than a round-robin of emails that go nowhere.

If it can wait or doesn’t need a face to face, give the recipient time to read and process the email, usually a few days is adequate. If it needs a response and you’re not getting one, schedule a 15 minute meeting with them at their desk, cube or nearest conference room.

STOP! Not including relevant links

Have you ever received this email?

“Can you check out the page with the blue header and the misspelled word on it?”

I receive this email 3 times a day. If I could even closely guess what URL address they were talking about, I wouldn’t be so mad, but at this point I don’t even know if they’re talking about our site. I mean, who do they think I am Sherlock Holmes looking for my next case to solve? No.

After all, is it really so hard to highlight the URL, hit ctrl-c, ctrl-v? It would save both of us an enormous amount of time? Please for the love of pete’s sake, learn your shortcut keys.


STOP! Asking something you asked last week

I get it, we’re busy people who forget things. It happens. Don’t beat yourself up about it. But don’t make me suffer too.

If you emailed me with a question last week and I responded, check you’re mail archives using this new invention called search, before emailing me again.

“Sorry to bother you again. What did you say you went to prison for?”

STOP! Not including your job title in your signature

This one isn’t so bad, but it sure makes it handy when I have to figure out who to forward an FYI email to.

Plus, if you are sending a request for work, I need to know where you are in the food chain. Are you the VP of sending email from your phone or are you the Assistant to the Assistant Regional Manager of I only send plain text emails?

Do I really need to pull up the company directory to send you an email. Wouldn’t it be so nice if I could just search my email archives for “email marketing manager” and find your name?

STOP! Using a one word subject line, like “update” or worse leaving it blank

email-etiquitte-emotionI’ve lost all hope in humanity that I even have to write about this. It’s 2017 people. Do you not know the importance of email subject lines and conversation grouping? My email client now thinks your “update” email is the same topic as your last 100 “update” emails and groups them together. Awesome.

And if I want to find the email later, scanning my emails by subject line is a testament to my patience and considerable memory:

Update
Update?
RE: No subject
FYI
update
FW: update

“Oh that’s right, I need the “Update?” email, not the “FW: update” one.”

In summary, if you’re doing any of the above please stop – email karma is real and I, I mean it, will get you.

5 Fundamentals of Information Architecture

IA is not voodoo, smoke or mirrors. It is a real science and vital to creating the best, most engaging user experience your customers need and deserve. Without IA your customers will get lost in the navigation or confused in the meaning or worse, just leave and never come back.

So it’s important not only for IAs, but for those who work with IAs, to understand what it is they do and why it’s essential.

1. Information is Not Data

While it might seem like information architecture is arranging the data to help a user, this is way too simple an explanation. Information is the connection between data and user. How does the arrangement of the data, within a given context, brings about understanding of the system(s) to the user? This is the question an information architect asks themselves on a daily bases.Continue Reading →

Are You Emotionally Intelligent?

As business leaders we often talk about the characteristics of what makes a great leader, like: passionate, driven, charismatic, honest, etc., but we seldom talk about emotional intelligence. Emotional intelligence (EQ) is the ability to sense in yourself, and others, emotions as they rise up, in order to use them effectively and not let them control you. Put in basic terms, it’s not acting like a child when things don’t go your way.

Continue Reading →

Life is a Choose Your Own Adventure Book – Part 2

Read Part 1…

It is not the brightest who succeed… Nor is success simply the sum of the decisions and efforts we make on our own behalf. It is, rather, a gift. Outliers are those who have been given opportunities — and who have had the strength and presence of mind to seize them.” – Malcom Gladwell, Outliers

Many think that successful people only got where they are because they were lucky or because of who they knew, but that’s an oversimplification of circumstances. Successful people built a foundation through preparation, so that when opportunities presented themselves they were ready to take advantage of them.Continue Reading →

Developing a Better UX Organization

Inspired by a Peter Merholz lecture at IA Summit 2015:

To deliver great user experiences, it’s not just about getting the best design out the door. It starts with getting the organization right.

There are different organizational models to deliver great UX. Each has strengths and weaknesses.

The most common organization model is a decentralized and embedded model. This allows each team (commerce, social, marketing, etc) to have a designer and developer and allows the designer to be included throughout the entire lifecycle. They are involved in decisions and part of the team. However, this causes a fractured user experience throughout the site and can be lonely for a designer to not be with other designers/developers.

Continue Reading →

Life is a Choose Your Own Adventure Book

If you’re old like me, you remember those “Choose Your Own Adventure” books. And if you’re like me, you cheated until you found the right ending that didn’t end with you getting crushed by a bolder or captured by pirates.

NOTE: If you searched for the path that ended in you being impaled on a punji stick, you’re sick and should seek professional help immediately.

Having read tons of these books, I feel fully qualified to establish a profound connection between a “Choose Your Own Adventure” book and life.

Continue Reading →

HIRE THE RIGHT PEOPLE

This is the one of my first posts because it is ultimate the most important topic for any manager. Even if you are taking over an established team or are not currently hiring, DO NOT skip this post. You will at some point be in a capacity to hire directly or to influence the hiring decisions and you’ll wish you hadn’t skip it.

When beginning the hiring process you will likely first get a stack of resumes to sift through. If you receive resumes electronically, kill a tree and print them out. Grab a highlighter and identify the skills and traits about the individual that align with your team’s goals and needs. Be critical. If you need someone with a high attention to detail, but the resume is lousy with spelling and grammar errors, make a note of that. As you go through the resume try to paint a picture of what this individual would look like on your team. Are they motivated? Do they have a clear career path? Are they confident or insecure? These are all things you should be able to gather by reading between the lines of their resume.Continue Reading →

SET GOALS AND EXPECTATIONS FOR YOUR TEAM

Before setting individual goals, you’ll first want to determine what the overall goals and expectations of your team or company are. A great book to read is Start with Why by Simon Sinek. This book outlines the importance of starting with why in order to set the expectations of your company and employees.

Once you’ve determined the “why”, you should be able to set overall goals for your team to achieve the mission. Goals to support the mission could be based on a quantifiable metric or an intangible quality score. Whatever the goal make sure it’s measurable, explainable and always aligns with your “why”.Continue Reading →

TRUST YOUR TEAM

If you read and applied the principles found the post HOW TO HIRE THE RIGHT PEOPLE, this post should come easily. If you find it difficult to trust your team, you really don’t trust yourself to make a good hiring decision.

Because, as managers, we are confident in our abilities, I can assume you are confident in your ability as a manager to judge character, skill and personality, and ultimately hired the right candidate for the job. Now trust them to live up to your expectations.Continue Reading →

INSPIRE CONFIDENCE

This post goes hand in hand with my previous post, TRUST YOUR TEAM. Without trust you will never inspire confidence. To inspire confidence you need to first and foremost allow people to fail. This may seem counter intuitive, but in reality it is the foundation to build confidence. Fear of failure is the number one reason people never take risks. And since risk-taking is the number one trait of successful people, your team will never be successful if they are afraid to fail.

Continue Reading →

ALWAYS BE FAIR

Employees are not your children – you will have favorites. Whether it’s because of personality, similar interests or work ethic, you will connect with some employees better than others. Because of this you may find yourself talking with one employee more than another, or speaking differently to them. Your team will see this and any promotion or favoritism will always be suspect.

Continue Reading →

ALWAYS REMAIN POSITIVE

If you’ve read my previous posts, you may think I’ve got it all figured out; I don’t. One thing I have figured out is that management is an evolutionary process that is only improved when things change. With change remain positive.

Do not get attached to a policy or process because it will change and probably should change at some point. Encourage your team to identify new solutions to existing problems. You may have looked at the problem from every angle and landed on a solution – you could still be wrong. Allow your team to voice their opinions or new ideas and be flexible with yours.Continue Reading →

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