One of the ways I gauge entrepreneurs or business executives’ effectiveness and efficiency is how they respond to their emails. Without requiring ‘instant responses’, within one week of correspondence I can identify the ‘top 10%’ from the bottom ‘90%’.
This is 2012. We are in the 21st century with email at the nucleus of our communication paradigm. Business people who struggle with technology and especially emails are ‘dinosaurs’.
Now that’s a bold statement to make, but it really is THAT important.
Allow me to contrast the top 10% versus the bottom 90%.
The top 10% respond within a reasonable time frame. It can be within the hour, the day, but rarely ever more than 48 hours (unless they are on leave or otherwise occupied with a project/event). One thing is for sure – you’re never wondering if they got or lost the email.
The bottom 90%…
- Claim to ‘lose’ or not receive emails
- Ask for emails to be re-sent because they accidentally deleted them
- Actually do have problems receiving emails because of their spam folder settings that are too strict
- Are challenged with their spam and junk mail folders – reviewing them only ‘every once in a while’ even though many important emails end up there
- Have hundreds or thousands of emails in their inbox
- Respond to emails erratically sometimes immediately and then are ‘offline’ for days with no communication
- Don’t use meaningful subject lines
- Don’t maintain message threads that are important – creating new emails with each new response
- Use TXT acronyms trying to be “hip or groovy” instead of clear in their explanations – creating the need for additional threads to find out what they meant to say
- Subscribe to every free email list available fearful that they will miss something.
- Don’t read their emails – instead skimming and overlooking the most important and time sensitive information
- Have multiple emails that they don’t monitor appropriately
- Share emails with others so everyone gets the email and multiple people responding with conflicting suggestions
- Don’t have folders for their emails – so can’t quickly locate what they need when they need it. Even though emails are now indexed, not having folders is like not having a filing cabinet for your physical documents.
Poor email management is one of my strongest pet peeves, but the reason I mention it here is because it’s also symptomatic of poor business management.
Without needing to become a Productivity Powerhouse – lack of effective email management skills (and tools) can be an important obstacle to your overall business success.
Anecdotally, over the past 10 to 15 years, I have noticed that the top business people don’t just manage their emails – the MASTER and CONTROL them with an adeptness that is remarkable.
If you’re struggling to grow your business – just look at your inbox and the list above. It’s a quick and easy problem to solve.
If it isn’t – you now have the SOURCE of the real problem!