“SMART” Email Etiquette

A few weeks ago, a friend sent me an article after several email mishaps had occurred in the workplace. Some employees were sending out way too many emails; others weren’t replying to people in a timely fashion,if at all. The select “just right” email senders seemed few and far between, and even they couldn’t really explain whether or not they were following their company policy of email etiquette.

To help you analyze your email etiquette, LEADon recommends the SMART email etiquette system:

  • Send a prompt reply to professional emails, even if it’s simply “got it” or “thanks.” This lets people know you received the information. If more details are required, and you can’t get to those at that time, then simply say “I’ll get back to you . . .” and add a specific timeframe.
  • Make the most of your emails. Put a specific title in the subject line, especially if you’d like an answer (e.g., “Agenda items””please reply”). Keep your emails short and succinct; people are busy and receive scores of email material each day. Bullet points are a great way to hit key concepts without being verbose.
  • Answer all questions. There’s nothing worse than sending out an email and only getting a partial answer to your questions. So, lead by example. Be sure you’ve covered all the information before you hit send.
  • Review, review, review! Read over your email before you send it every single time. Check for spelling. Did you add all attachments? Finally, how is the tone of your email? Be aware that emails can hurt other’s feelings, and there is also the chance of distortion on the receiving end. Communication can be risky business, so review and revise as needed.
  • Think before you send. Email is great for facts but not so much for feelings. This means that some messages are better given on the phone or in person. Remember, email is only a tool it should never replace face time. Ask yourself this question: “Is this best handled with an email message, or should I be speaking directly to this person so there are no assumptions and no ambiguities?”

As a leader, be sure you’ve addressed the email etiquette of your company. Use this SMART system as a template to get started. Then, develop an email etiquette policy that everyone in your Corporate Family can follow in the days ahead.