Working in a corporate environment, our profession is a very literary one. Whether you work in finance, marketing, operations, tech, and others – you are answering e-mails or phone calls, probably writing more e-mails than making phone calls.
Very likely what we need in order to make our day to day decisions is to send an e-mail to someone about what is needed, and get an effective response back with whatever their thoughts were so we could move forward with whatever project we are working on.
At least, that’s how I feel it should go. You should be able to just shoot off an e-mail and communicate asynchronously for many things, and only resorting to phone calls and meetings when you need to have deeper discussions on certain things. I’m not writing this to say “don’t ever call me” or “phone calls are bad”, but I have noticed that some people’s first reaction to receiving a message or e-mail is to set up a phone call or meeting to talk about it, when it isn’t really necessary; and so I want to show how I might send off an e-mail to my boss for example.
Here’s an example e-mail I may send for something non-urgent:
From: AJ To: Boss Subject: Cost savings on infra, reply needed but non-urgent. Attachments: money_or_something.csv -------- Hey Boss, I've been looking at our infrastructure costs and found that we're spending $XXXX/mo on hosting on-prem servers. I think we can save money on power and hardware if we put more of our infrastructure in Azure, especially since we have plenty of our other infrastructure there already. It will also save us time on training new personnel on on-prem vs cloud. I've attached a CSV with pricing. Should we move forward with this? Thanks, AJ
Just by looking at the subject line, an e-mail like this lets Boss know that they do not need to drop what they doing, and I can continue working on the plenty of other more urgent tasks I have while waiting for a response from them. Cost-savings may sound urgent, but it isn’t something that can have an immediate effect at the moment that I’m sending the e-mail. If I interrupt Boss’ day with something that we can’t even immediately act on then that’s very unproductive, not only for them but for me as well because I just wasted time that could’ve been used to do something more immediate.
Now my boss might shoot me an e-mail back, or they might just call me depending on what their thoughts are, and either of these choices are okay given the subject matter as a deeper discussion should be had, but it need not be urgent.
It isn’t just about working effectively, but also about respecting other people’s time. My co-workers have entire worlds that are separate from the concerns of work and separate from the concerns of my own, and the same goes for our customers.
By taking an extra minute or so to think about what we need from someone else and reach out via the appropriate avenue, in a way that respects their time, we can lessen stress not just for ourselves but also for others, which I personally believes makes everyone more productive.
Feel free to let me know what your thoughts are. You can hit me up on Twitter @ajkhan_ (email forwarding isn’t working tell well at the moment).