Let’s talk about email

Or actually, let’s talk about communication. All communication is designed to change behavior. If you do not want to change behavior, including updating people by giving them information or sharing something, it does not serve a meaningful purpose.

My readers know my hang up with R=Q*A so in this case, the result of the change in behavior is depending on the quality of the message you are sending and the acceptance of it by your target audience. If they do not accept it at all, you can have the greatest quality information ever, but you won’t get any results. If you make the communication acceptable or more acceptable to them, the results will increase a lot. You will need to find out what medium is best to use for your communication to ensure you have the best option of changing the behavior and making an impact.

So let’s just go over some things that I hate in email communications and then send me your views!

Having a terrible subject line. Or even worse, having a subject line that says “re:…….” but meanwhile the topic has changed and the content of the email is not at all about the subject in the subject line anymore.

While we are on the topic of subjects, try to stay on topic, stick with the subject in the subject line and do not introduce a totally different discussion in the final paragraph and expect me to have read that and react on it. Just start your email with what you want from me. Like: “this is to ask your opinion about….”, or ” please provide this …. report to me by …..”. etc.

Forgetting the attachments. Really there are systems that will ask you if you don’t want to send an attachment when you mention the word. USE THEM.

Replying to all and then all replying with one-word emails to say “thanks”. It clogs up my inbox and it serves no purpose.

Having to read through several paragraphs before I find the actual punchline or request or action item. Try to be concise, control your writer’s instinct for your memoirs and do not bother your colleagues with it.  If you need so many words, maybe email is not the right medium to use. Plan a meeting, write a position paper.

Finally, I want to mention the use of the text talk abbreviations. I may be oldfashioned but I don’t know them all and you should use them for tweets to save digits and stay in the 140 characters or for working on your phone when you don’t want to push all these tiny keys.

Talking about working on your phone, another gripe I have is that more and more people seem to think that they can live their life and do all business only with their wonderful smartphone. Attachments I sent do not get downloaded and read because their phone can’t handle it and messages that do not fit on the first page of an iPhone easily get ignored. Please fire up that PC or laptop from time to time and be serious about doing business and having meaningful communications in business.

Oh well, those were some of my hot buttons. What are yours? Shoot me an email or tweet.

Politics in the workplace

It is a worldwide issue; should you allow or encourage or discourage politics in the workplace?

There may not be an election at the moment but there are always things happening and being decided and so the question is always relevant as your employees will have an opinion on everything.

A related question is if the company can or should have a political view?

Another related question is if the company can have moral values or beliefs? What does that have to do with your business?

One answer could be that all is well and allowed as long as it does not interfere with business, but that may not satisfy some owners who founded the firm and have some opinion on moral values and want to keep the workplace in sync with how they view the world.

If thousands or millions of shareholders own the company it will be difficult to find one set of values that needs to be highlighted in the company, unless the history of the company has created that.

So there isn’t an easy answer and much of what happens will be a function of views and history, ownership and severity of the issues at hand.

Clearly, if something in the nation’s politics has the potential to hurt the company it will be understandable and allowed for the company to use all their options to oppose the proposed measures. Companies do that often by hiring firms who will lobby on their behalf with the politicians.

Also by giving support to certain politicians who seem to understand the company’s views influence can be applied.

Discussions among the workforce though of politics should really stay outside the workplace, as are discussions about sex, religion and when important matches are in view, maybe even sports. Does that artificially stop the debate? Well yes but you are at the company not to convince other people of your political, religious or moral beliefs but to accomplish the goals of the company.

So unless you are an owner, and unless the company’s mission is in danger due to some political action, stay away from bringing politics into the workplace.

Performance appraisal

Just the word does people shiver. There are so many things that can be wrong with performance appraisals that you don’t have to dig deep to find them. Just ask the first manager or supervisor or just a regular employee to get a whole story about what is wrong with it in general and with the system in their company specifically. It seems that not many people are happy about their performance appraisal system and the fancy elaborate computerized systems have not improved this much over the years.

The world without performance appraisal

Having worked for a company that did not actually have performance appraisals, I can say that the encouragement of regular discussions about how things are going is more powerful to increase productivity than any performance appraisal system I know.

Salary increases were not determined by the actual performance of the individual but determined by the market. If the market decides on average to raise the compensation for that job, then the individual would get a raise and if the market remained at the same level or even dropped, the individual would not progress, unless they were still young in the position and were growing to the full salary for the position.

It is difficult to capture this system in a simple blog post as I would not give the system behind it enough credit. Feel free to contact me if and when you are curious about this system. I can wholeheartedly recommend it and will be happy to discuss how to introduce the system in your organization.