Managing Response Time for Email Communications

Managers receive a lot of email as part of their normal work responsibilities. In this video, I’m going to specifically focus on appropriate response time for email because managers often forget that is an indicator of our overall effectiveness.

Managers receive a lot of email as part of their normal work responsibilities.

There is a lot to be said about good etiquette when using email – things like which topics are appropriate to be handled via email and the tone that you introduce – but in this video I am going to specifically focus on response time for email because managers often forget that it is an indicator to others as to your effectiveness.

Timely Response

A common complaint I hear from employees is that the manager is not responding to them in a timely manner.

In addition to creating delays in the work flow, this is also sending a message to the employee that they are not important or that the project is not a priority.  None of these things are helpful.

There are some things you can do to improve the situation.

Valuable and Pertinent

The first tip is to make sure the emails you are receiving are meaningful to you.  Think of two categories – internal and external emails.

For those messages that are coming to you from outside the organization, make sure that you are reading them, they are valuable, they are pertinent to your work.  There are lots of good things out there, but if you are not reading them unsubscribe.

It’s not helping you to have that clutter in your inbox.  It promotes the possibility of you missing more important things when you have things that are there, but you are not reading them.

For the internal messages, make sure you are involving your team to receive and/or deal with messages versus you forwarding to them or just being copied if it is not necessary.

Ensure that every message you get is really appropriate for the purpose and the work that you are responsible for.

Keep Trying

If you are watching this and you are saying, “There is no way I can eliminate any of my email,” then I encourage you to go back and try again.  It is going to be very important for you to be judicious about slashing whatever is not really critical to your work.

When you can receive a reasonable amount of email, then you are going to be able to respond in the appropriate amount of time, which I believe is about 24 hours.  Sometimes sooner, sometimes it could be a little longer.

It depends on the situation or perhaps the nuances of your culture, but if you are routinely taking days (or even worse – weeks) to respond to email, you are not being effective.  There is a strong likelihood there is a perception out there that you are not managing your time or your work.

So when you can manage the right amount of email, you can respond appropriately and that is going to make you more productive.  In addition, it is going to inspire and support the perception that you are managing, not only your communications, but your work as a manager.

Be sure to check out other videos in the Learning Resource Center available to you as a member.

Here’s to your graceful leadership!

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