10 Fatal Mistakes Managers Make in E-mail

Last Updated Feb 16, 2010 3:00 PM EST

E-mail, like playing guitar, is harder than it looks. But while mastering that solo in Stairway to Heaven is just never going to happen (Seriously -- It's time to move on to an easier song), you can teach yourself how to fix your most egregious e-mail failures.


Recently, the Wall Street Journal talked about the ten mistakes that managers make with e-mail. Many of these should sound familiar; I've been beating this drum for a while now:
  1. Using vague subject lines. Be clear about the subject, and update the subject line if needed.
  2. Burying the lede. Remember: Bottom Line Up Front (BLUF).
  3. Hiding people behind the BCC line. One of them is bound to reply all and your little deception will crumble.
  4. Failing to clean up the thread before adding to the mess with a new reply.
  5. Using poor grammar and style. Don't write like Rick.
  6. Writing over-long e-mails. Why didn't anyone reply to your latest tome? Maybe it's just too long.
  7. Writing needlessly long, bulky paragraphs. Write your e-mail in digestible chunks.
  8. Neglecting the readers by forgetting common courtesies. Say thank you in public; give criticism in private.
  9. Always using e-mail when other forms of communication might be better. You do still have a phone, right?
  10. Forgetting that e-mail lasts forever. An e-mail you write today is evidence in court 5 years from now.
Check out some of our other industrial strength tips for working with e-mail:
Photo by DJHeini

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