Friday, January 14, 2011

KeFactors Friday: T. A. S. K. Your E-mails

If you’re like me, you get dozens of e-mails per week about a variety of issues. And a trend I’ve noticed among my clients’ staff is the troubling frequency with which e-mailed instructions are lost through the cracks.

One thing’s for sure: the business world is not going to stop using e-mail. But that doesn’t mean you should let this unwieldy communications tool quash your ability to be efficient and effective. There are a couple simple things you can do to become more productive.

Immediately print out any e-mail that carries a task, an instruction, or time-sensitive info. You can follow the TASK guideline:

T = The email carries info that is time-sensitive.

A = Accuracy is crucial (you may need to use client language verbatim)

S = The info has to be shared with several team members

K = Keep this to document decisions, changes in direction, and for future reference

Why print out hard copies? For example, merely forwarding a client’s instruction to a colleague does not ensure that immediate action will be taken: you may need to walk across the plant to get the colleague’s attention and show the e-mail to underscore its details or importance.

Also, keep a notepad on hand for noting to-do items that may be evident to you but not explicit in the emails — eg, a client request like “Will you call me when the samples are ready?”

E-mail’s been around long enough now. Don’t join the ranks of those who constantly make excuses (“Oh, I’m sorry, I thought I sent that back to you!” or “I did see that e-mail but it must’ve been deleted by the system. Can you repeat what you said or re-send?”)

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