How to think out­side the in­box You can’t man­age a team with­out com­mu­ni­cat­ing well. In the mod­ern of­fice, this means mas­ter­ing the art of email­ing.

Finweek English Edition - - ON THE MONEY - Know your au­di­ence:

Sue Wel­man, an ex­ec­u­tive coach at the Jo­han­nes­burg-based True North Coach­ing and Con­sult­ing, says there are ba­si­cally three types of email re­cip­i­ents you need to cater for:

They re­quire de­tailed in­for­ma­tion about an is­sue be­fore they can form an as­sess­ment. Your emails should give in-depth anal­y­sis and as much de­tail as pos­si­ble. These read­ers re­spond well to a struc­tured ar­gu­ment.

An­a­lyt­i­cal types.

is the mother of all screw-ups in the busi­ness world. A wrongly worded email, for ex­am­ple, can in­stantly in­fu­ri­ate or con­fuse your team.

High-level thinkers.

On a good day, they’ll read the first two lines of your long and well-crafted email. They’ll quickly scan the para­graphs, and of­ten will send you a mail back ask­ing a lot of ques­tions (that are ac­tu­ally ad­dressed in your mail, if they would just read the damn thing in full). For these co-work­ers, keep it con­cise and list all in­for­ma­tion in bul­let point for­mat, with the most im­por­tant facts listed first.

Don’t send them a mail. First pick up a phone, or walk over and talk to them. Fol­low it up with an email, if ab­so­lutely nec­es­sary. This group val­ues con­nec­tion.

Peo­ple-ori­en­tated in­di­vid­u­als.

A par­tic­u­lar chal­lenge comes in when you have to write an email to a group of peo­ple with dif­fer­ent per­son­al­ity types. Wel­man rec­om­mends a com­bined strat­egy: send­ing a suc­cinct mail with the facts or ac­tion items listed in bul­let point for­mat, but adding the de­tailed in­for­ma­tion as an at­tach­ment. Also, fol­low up your mail with a call or in­ter­ac­tion with those who are peo­ple-fo­cused. “As our lives evolve more and more amid the dig­i­tal rev­o­lu­tion, now more than ever the per­sonal con­nec­tion will count,” says Wel­man. A con­ver­sa­tion is worth a thou­sand mails. If some­thing is un­clear to you, and you want to ask a few ques­tions, con­sider us­ing this ne­glected piece of highly ef­fi­cient tech­nol­ogy: ver­bal com­mu­ni­ca­tion. This is par­tic­u­larly ef­fec­tive in sen­si­tive sit­u­a­tions. Start off with the most

Make your point early:

im­por­tant in­for­ma­tion. Keep your mes­sages short and use strong verbs. Add dead­lines to all tasks, if pos­si­ble. Con­vey as much in­for­ma­tion as you can. For ex­am­ple, don’t write “Help needed” in the sub­ject line – in­stead, be more spe­cific: “Your feed­back re­quired on new con­tract”. Also, when you for­ward an email, re­place the pre­vi­ous sub­ject line to re­flect the cur­rent points un­der dis­cus­sion. Us­ing short­cut words like “K” (How

Count your words: Sub­ject lines should stay on topic: Don’t try to be cute:

Sue Wel­man Ex­ec­u­tive coach at True North Coach­ing and Con­sult­ing

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