E-Mail – We’re Drowning in It
In 2005 nearly half a million e-mails landed in in-boxes each SECOND. Dealing with e-mail has added one to two hours of work to the average worker’s day. I get feedback from middle managers who don’t have time for their people because upper management is constantly bombarding them with e-mail requests. Sound familiar?
If all this e-mail has increased the workload of all employees, is anybody paying attention? Bosses tell their customer service reps to respond faster, better, nicer – but has anyone taken into account the increased volume they’re trying to deal with? If the workload has increased, have companies added any workers? If managers are spending all their time dealing with e-mail from superiors, who’s motivating and leading employees? I also think upper management is kidding themselves about how effective their communication is. They’re busy congratulating themselves on their great e-mail messages while their front line folks are too buried to read them. (They might have three layers of brilliant managers e-mailing them!) Just because you sent an e-mail doesn’t mean it was received. If it was received, that doesn’t mean it was read. And if it was read, that doesn’t mean it was understood. And even if the words were understood, that doesn’t mean the meaning was understood. (When humans communicate up to 93% of the meaning is derived from tone of voice and body language – these are completely lost in e-mail.) It’s very possible that your company is sending more and more e-mail and actually communicating less and less.
Your company needs to pay attention to the volume of e-mail your people are receiving and take steps to help them manage their workloads. Leaders need to think long and hard about the volume of e-mail they are sending and how much of it is really needed (and how much of it is just a lazy way to keep tabs on people or to CYA.) Address this issue now – it’s only going to get worse.