Make this small change to your email messages for a big ROI

Every semester I stand in front of thousands of 18–22 year old college students and make them repeat the following back to me:

“Email messages are not text-messages!”

Granted, I’m talking to individuals who are just starting to learn how to navigate professional interactions. But some of the emails I get from them are something else:

hey what are u teaching today

i need the notes from class

im sry I didn’t make it to class

Needless to say, I’m on a personal mission to teach them the power of a well-crafted, personalized and spell-checked email.

Lest you think its only 18–22 year olds who are guilty of this kind of messaging, one common complaint I hear when I work with organizations is that executives and managers send “rude” or “short” emails to employees. Because managers hold more power and status, it’s common for them to forget that employees are constantly scanning their work environments, including their inboxes, for feedback about their standing in the organization. A lack of familiarity, a canned email, or a “short” email message can increase uncertainty in the mind of an employee, especially a new one.

Exceptional workplaces are built when leaders are intentional and relational about even the smallest tasks, including email. It’s easy to fire off an email without thinking about the message that will be received on the other end.

I know what you’re thinking.

I get hundreds of emails each day.

I don’t have time to send a perfectly crafted response to every email.

I would never get anything done.

The good news is that there’s an incredibly simple thing you can do that will only cost you 5 seconds but will afford you increased goodwill with your employees.

Communication researcher Joan Waldvogel found that simply including a name and greeting at the beginning of an email, plus a polite closing and your name at the end of an email can increase employee morale and contribute to the creation of a positive and friendly workplace culture. That action takes only seconds but sends a powerful message.

That’s it.

  1. Include a short greeting and the employee’s name.
  2. Include a polite closing. Consider one that expresses appreciation.
  3. Sign your name. And no, your signature line doesn’t count.

So make every interaction (even your online ones) count. Before you send an email, ask yourself, “Does this communicate that I know and value this team member?”

It’s a small change with a big return on investment.

Workplace Culture Strategist & Consultant | Co-Owner of ROI Talent Development | Former COMS Prof @ Texas Tech University |

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