Email Etiquette: Are there rules?

January 20, 2018 by  

Email is currently one of the most used forms of business communication. As many of you know, it is sometimes abused. The importance of email, therefore, should not be undermined, rather it should be utilized in an appropriate and respectful manner. So, it is certainly necessary to observe certain rules of business email etiquette.

Here are some basic rules to be observed when using this means of communication:

Rule No. 1:
Before sending an email, you may want to consider all the options available to you for the communication. With the variety offered by technology today, you have many other options such as text messaging, WhatsApp, Instagram, chatroom, even Skype messaging. Thus, it would behoove you to choose the one which is most appropriate for the subject you are dealing with as well as for the receiver with whom you are communicating.

Rule No. 2:
Sometimes you may be sending a sensitive message. Whenever conflicting statements are being made, it is necessary to be very careful. In those situations, you may find it useful to print the message before sending it or at least review and edit it very carefully before sending it off. You might even consider using a grammar tool such as Grammarly, which is free to download and can help you to check spelling, grammar, and punctuation of any document you create. You might also consider making yourself a hard copy so that you have a permanent record of the correspondence as you might need it if the conflict escalates into something more significant.

Rule No. 3:
Whenever you send an important email, it is truly crucial to read it more than once and check for spelling, content, logic, syntax, etc. You may need to improve the wording, clarity, or other aspects of the missive to be sure that it will be convincing, and clear to the reader. Your extra efforts of editing will pay off in the long run.

Rule No. 4:
Always maintain an up to date address book. It is not a good idea to delete names as you never know when you might need that address at some future time. Organizing your address book will make you more efficient. In other words, you may wish to separate your friends and colleagues from your business contacts and you may wish to arrange your business addresses according to certain groups by industry or relationship. This will make you more efficient as it will be easier to find the address you need more quickly.

Rule No. 5:
In business, in spite your best efforts, it can be difficult to maintain equanimity. It is not a good idea to send an email when you are not a good mood or upset by something as it is more difficult to keep that emotion out of the communication. Furthermore, when you are exhausted, you do not think clearly so this is also not a great time for sending messages. An email should be a spontaneous expression of your thoughts and ideas so you do not want other issues to influence the content your email.

Rule No. 6:
Do not try to make a business process simple, in other words, if a face to face meeting will better serve a particular situation, then make the appointment and have that meeting. Making it more convenient, just to suit you, could harm the relationship and the outcome of the exchange. Remember, an email message is never a good replacement for an important personal contact.

Rule No. 7:
Always remember the order for important business contacts. In many situations, a face to face meeting always comes first when trying to convince and influence a prospect. Sometimes that may not be possible, so your next option is to have a telephone conversation. Be sure to put a smile your face before you even say hello, as it will affect the sound of your voice and how your words are interpreted by the person on the other end of the receiver. Prepare the basics for your conversation before the call, you can even have some notes, as they cannot see what you are doing and that way you can be sure to cover all the key points you wish to impart. Lastly, you could leave a voicemail message, however, that is usually not the best of options as it can easily be ignored and it is hard to get much across in a short voicemail message but at least it is personal. When the previous three are not possible you can then use email and sure remember to follow the first 6 rules of etiquette so that your message will be well received and you will be more likely to receive a reply.

Again, technology can be a great advantage and convenience when used well, however, do remember that direct, face to face meetings are usually the best way to establish and maintain important longterm relationships in business or actually in any aspect of your life.

5 Keys to Building & Maintaining a Culture of Innovation

January 3, 2018 by  

In today’s fast-moving world of technology, businesses need to find a way to keep up and even move ahead of the crowd. In order to do that, the leadership needs to create and commit to establishing and maintaining a culture that invites and encourages innovation. In order to do that, employees must feel that they are appreciated, supported, and encouraged as well as listened to respectfully. When that is well known, individuals can be free to think in creative and innovative ways thus being able to freely develop new ideas, processes, and products. When allowed to do that the organization will have engaged, challenged, high-performing, and productive teams. All of which are beneficial to the success and longevity of any organization.

In order to do this the following elements should be considered:

1. The leadership must demonstrate their intention and desire to innovate:
Many business leaders pay only lip service to innovation. Many opportunities are lost if companies stop innovating. Intentional innovation involves not only announcing a company’s plan to ‘innovate’ but also requires the creation of avenues for that innovation to actually occur throughout the entire company. Intentional innovation provides legitimate and meaningful opportunities that allow everyone in the company to be able to bring forth their ideas. This also means that the leadership must have the strength and be willing to make the changes necessary to actually move the new ideas forward.

2. Unstructured and experimenting time must be scheduled:
You cannot develop a strong team overnight and the same is true for great innovation. Your organization has to develop a real and respected place to germinate and develop new ideas. Time and resources must be made available as the best creations come from a mind free from routine. You need to allow for individuals to have some limited latitude beyond the normal confines of the office, such as retreats, outdoor activities, and even just walks at any time, which can all be conducive to creative thought.

3. Permit mistakes as they are opportunities to learn:
Any company ramping up their authentic innovation efforts needs to allow for errors and inefficiencies. Innovation does not always yield its benefits according to preset timelines and costs. We would not have the technological advances, aerial options or even electricity if the inventors had not made mistakes and learned from them. It is not always about profits and accounting processes. Better to give your people the opportunity to just be creative, experience a few bumps, but keep moving forward and experimenting until something viable is developed.

4. Determine ways to effectively measure innovative impact:
One of the keys to nurturing impactful innovative efforts is to have determined just how you will measure their impact and the resulting successes. The key metrics to consider include new additions to your revenue, profit margins, penetration into new markets, a reduction in costs, absenteeism or turnover. All of which generally occur when employees feel appreciated, supported, and encouraged because when that is present so is engagement. Engaged employees are more self-motivated, generally work at a higher level of performance, and are going to be likely to stay with the company because they are happy there.

5. Find ways to motivate in a meaningful way:
Innovation generally changes the way people work, and what they work on. Leaders need to ensure that everyone affected by the changes understands the impact of the innovative efforts and can actually see the benefits for themselves and their departments. This may mean more skills development, promotional opportunities, job diversity, or bonuses, nonetheless, it needs to be seen as important to each employee so that they will all buy into its success. Keeping everyone in the loop about the project will go a long way to getting and keeping everyone on board with the new project. In addition, it demonstrates that the leadership is committed to its success.

Building this internal architecture of innovation is no simple task, it takes patience, dedication, and commitment by the leadership. However, if you are strongly behind it and can demonstrate that support in meaningful ways you will very likely be able to develop and maintain that desired culture and reap its benefits.