Mar 31, 2009

"Lack of time" classic example with the email at workplace

Considering the negative effects that some written messages can have on productivity in the workplace, we could say that communication through e-mail can sometimes be rather "non-communicational".

In one of my consulting jobs on the strategic management of communication in customer care, I mentioned an alternative to be more proactive in the recurrent crisis that occurred when a massive technological service stopped working.

The technical support team could detect the technical shortcoming before clients did. So I told them to send an e-mail to those affected, warning them about the inconvenience, and informing them about the actions they would take to solve the situation.

In this way they could avoid surprises and clients wouldn't be annoyed by the service interruption and wouldn’t call to find out what was happening.

Although they fully agreed with our recommendation, and confirmed they could implement it, they didn’t. Sending that anticipated e-mail helped them avoid a lot of additional pressure caused by angry clients. However, they didn’t send it for a very simple reason: They didn't have the time to do it.

These were very smart and technically skilled people, so I had a hard time understanding why they didn’t take the initiative to send such a strategically important mail.

I continued investigating their daily activities, and found something that was surprising at the time, but later I realized it happened in many cases in this and almost all companies.

Being a mass consumption service company, it wasn't strange for them to receive some e-mails from angry clients who were dissatisfied by the quality of the technical support or attention they received.

Many of these messages were written in critical, demanding or "harsh" language (commonly used by clients complaining because they are disappointed with the attention they receive).

However, the source of this "lack of time" began when the recipients of those written complaints unconsciously added emotions that made feel offended by the client's message and took those criticisms and demands personally.

As a result, they ended up investing considerable amounts of time to respond to what they assumed was an offense, to "put the client in his/her place"... And... Guess how much time they used to do that?

This is a very common situation at the workplace. Therefore, a lot of personal time is unproductive and wasted.

So, if you want more time you need to improve your professional managment of email. See my survival guide.

Mar 23, 2009

Don’t forget the cost of spam

Even the small percentage of spam that gets through to workers can cost companies thousands, according to a report from security firm McAfee.

Though malware and preventing breaches hold the headlines – and the attention of many IT departments – spam can still be an issue.

Spam is not going away. Spammers are always thinking of new and innovative ideas.

While McAfee suggested those lost minutes could cost a firm of a thousand workers some US$182,500 in lost productivity, it’s always difficult to put a number on it.

McAfee says there is a difference between spam filters that offer 95 per cent coverage and 99 per cent. The cost could be as high as $41,000 for every percentage point.

For every one per cent getting through, that is costing an organisation. Lost productivity isn’t the only cost, as firms must also pay for security and archive more email because of spam.

Mar 19, 2009

We are always marketing ourselves

Where to start been more effective with e-mail at the workplace?

First of all, we need to be more aware of the fact that in all areas of contemporary society, we are always marketing ourselves as individuals.

This means that we need to take more into account the fact that we are always affecting the perception others have of us. We are always influencing that perception positively or negatively. There is no such thing as “no influence” or “neutral influence”.

We affect others with what we do or don’t do, and also with what we say or don’t say. So, we start defining our personal marketing and communication plan with the following questions:

* "How do I want to be known and remembered as a professional?"

* "With what values do I want others to associate me?"

The answers to these questions provide the guide we need on the type of actions we must take to positively affect others and obtain the professional perception we desire.

Second, we need to have a wide perspective of who our "clients" are. This can easily and efficiently be established answering the following question: "Who can speak about me, positively or negatively, as a professional and as a person?".

Our marketing strategies and tactics must be oriented towards all of them. Our clients are the individuals with whom we interact directly or indirectly, who are important to us professionally, and who can recommend us to others.

In a society where jobs are so interconnected, “external clients” are just as important for our personal marketing as are our co-workers, including bosses at all levels, the staff in other departments, and suppliers.

Yes, this answer is very broad because the most frequent marketing mistakes are made in part by underestimating the range of influence that the public or audience with whom we interact as clients have.

Finally, being more aware of our personal marketing implies being more aware of the tools we use to communicate our skills, competencies, values, and benefits. That is, we need to keep our interpersonal communication channels and media fine tuned.

These are made up by all our interpersonal communications, whether face-to-face, telephonic, or through e-mail, and by the form and content we convey through these means. That is, our body and our behavior are like our mobile marketing channels, with verbal and non-verbal messages.

In this context, e-mail increasingly has a greater impact on the professional image we project as individuals. Therefore, a better understanding of the factors that make written communication effective will allow us to assertively manage those aspects that determine our reputation through that medium.

Mar 14, 2009

"Email at the workplace" on Amazon's Kindle

Now, you can read the book "E-mail at the workplace. Survival Guide. Solutions and Tips", on your Amazon's Kindle.

You only need this device, which let you read e-books (special formatted to Kindle). Then, you have to download the book electronic file on

Beside you can see more information about the content of this book thanks to Google Books's service.

Mar 9, 2009

Personal marketing through e-mail

Your professional opportunities depend on your reputation.

If you want to improve your chances for professional growth, you need to be more aware of the importance of your permanent marketing as an individual.

The same marketing techniques companies use to create a commercial brand, so consumers perceive it in a positive light and prefer it, can be used by professionals when they look for a job or in their work experience.

Brands of products, services or companies create a unique image and use it in a planned manner to attract and maintain clients and consumers. Professionals can also plan their image to attract the ideal employers or to have better job opportunities.

Commercial marketing is the challenge brands face to communicate their values and benefits, presenting an image that differentiates them from the competition and makes them desirable brands.

Isn’t this the same challenge we face when we look for a job or when we want to improve our possibilities in our present positions?

The concept of “personal brand” is not common for people who are not in the arts, sports, or other professions where the public opinion is relevant. However, if people looking for a job or planning their professional development in a company don’t build a strong positive image, it will be more difficult to attract attention to their qualities, values, and particularly, the benefits they offer.

The personal brand is the quantitative and qualitative addition of your professional career in an integrated manner, and the image of the person that constitutes it. Therefore, planning and developing a personal brand has significant advantages:

* It helps us generate professional interest and positively catch the attention of clients, bosses, colleagues, friends, and potential employers.

* It allows us to focus on what we want people to remember most of our personal and professional qualities.

* It makes it easier to obtain trust and credibility, as a result of our coherent and consistent professional performance.

* It allows us to differentiate ourselves as workers.

Just as with the marketing of a product, if we don’t work on our own professional brand image, others will create one for us, and it is quite likely that it won’t be what we want or what we are interested in projecting.

Mar 5, 2009

Take care of the tone of your email at the workplace

Who hasn't experienced having someone we e-mailed misinterpret our intent or tone? An inappropriate tone can cause a reader to ignore, delete, or overreact to your message.

All business e-mail writers must be able to control the tone of their writing so their e-mail messages will have the results they intend. Using e-mail at the workplace, how you say
it is as important as what you say.

Tone is the quality in your writing that reveals your attitude toward your topic and reader. Tone comes from your choice of words, the structure of your sentences, and the order of the information you present.

Some studies show that people think they've correctly interpreted the tone of e-mails they receive 90 percent of the time. But they don't. When emotions are present they fail half of the time, because there are a lot of non-verbal clues involved on interpersonal communication.

For example, it is extremely difficult to identify the sarcasm in a written message. So, is better to avoid any type of irony in a professional email.

It's easy for e-mail writers to let their tone slip from professional to edgy or sarcastic. E-mail emboldens writers to express thoughts they would never say to a reader's face. And e-mail is written quickly, then sent.

Most e-mail writers don't review their messages as carefully as they should. When they do review messages before sending, they're looking at the content, not the tone.

But tone is important. A flippant tone that the reader doesn't find funny, or an angry tone can damage a relationship as well as progress on a company project. The key is to make sure that you do not contribute unknowingly to incorrect perceptions and inaccurate impressions.