How do I train my employees on email writing and etiquette?
I know that email communication is important for many different departments, like sales and HR. What's the best way to train my employees in writing business emails and maintaining business etiquette?
Provide clear, specific subject lines that help the sender identify what he or she must do. For example, if you want someone to approve a funding request, try this: "Please approve SLM spectrophotometer purchase." Put key information at the beginning, limiting text to five words when possible.
Make them do the real work under supervision so they don't make any mistakes and will through the process.
I have seen Sue Hershkowitz-Coore speak, (http://speakersue.com/), and she is amazing. She has a couple books and does keynotes and sessions as well.
The easiest thing it so do a quick needs analysis to understand the types of issues or concerns you have with the current e-mail quality. From there it is rather simple to create a quick, customized training that can walk your team through scenarios, examples and best practices as it pertains to effective e-mail. Corporate Educators and HR professionals have basic training programs on these topics and can easily customize these to your needs. These are able to be delivered via web if you are virtual and live by a professional or one of your own leaders if you prefer. If this is something we can help you with, let me know.
A few tips to consider:
1) The subject line. Three choices: a) Time Sensitive: Immediate Action Required; b) Reply Required by: ___________; c) FYI
I receive a lot of email communications and never am quite sure about the urgency/timing of the reply until I read through the entire email. I think it would be great if every email had this type of information in the subject line.
2) The content. Identify the main points up front. If detail is necessary, write it out after the main points are identified first.
3) Clarity. Emails should be succinct. An email that is more than two paragraphs is not an email - it's a memorandum. Be careful not to be too lengthy. The recipient will lose interest in reading and/or get lost in unnecessary verbage.
Hope this is helpful.
Get the employees involved - see each employee as a potential trainer! Hold a "mini-training" - have each employee submit an email that can be discussed and viewed. Select 5 or 6. The "team" of employees dissects and discusses the writing and etiquette in each email - what worked, what did not work and why (will make for a lively discussion!) A designated person keeps tally of the do's and don'ts/pros and cons of the five or six email writings.
You will end up with an internal, employee generated protocol which they may be more likely to adhere to and remember (being actively involved in creating the rule structure facilitates memory and increases the likelihood of compliance) This may also be a good time for them to discuss how the writing of emails aligns with the company brand, etc.
There's a great pocketbook on Business Communications by Ashridge that we encourage our staff to download and keep with them for easy reference.
Or you could make it more interactive by creating a mentoring programme. Staff that need development in writing professional emails can register themselves in the programme.
You would then appoint a mentor in each office/ team/ floor that spends about two hours a week doing "spot checks" i.e. they would randomly sit next to a staff member,ask them what they're emailing and provide real time guidance on what they can do to improve it.
Run it for a couple of months, and see the difference!
Bhushan, a most interesting challenge you pose here. For over 25 years, I've been empowering business leaders to take some of the pain out of workplace writing. Here are some Best Practices I typically share:
* Simply put, 'etiquette' in the 21st century workplace is just interacting with uncommon courtesy with individuals and groups. So, our workplace writing should be reader-centric, focused, brief and courteous.
* Start with 'WII-FM' - ask the learners 'What's in it for me ... if I write more courteous emails at work? Help them see the personal and professional value proposition if needed.
* If your organization doesn't have effective workplace writing guidelines or a statement of best practices, get that process going from the top. If the big dogs define better writing as important, they can encourage their reports to model improved skills and coach their teams accordingly.
* Then, get your people involved in refining these guidelines. The more they participate in the process, the more they will buy in and embrace them.
The rest is just details - creating a learner-centric, engaging and fun experience where they can discuss the simple techniques involved and practice improvements with constructive 'plus/delta' feedback.
Best wishes for success - Phil Stella, Effective Training & Communication, Inc.
Start with Daily Activity Report and make it mandatory for each and every team-member. You can even consider making it one of the KPI. It is about the habit of writing, skills or finesse will follow, and only routine practice can make anything perfect. The advantages of this policy are manifold if you can employ it rightly with only one disadvantage... you will have to do much more reading than usual...! All the best!
This is an interesting question. There are some absolutes that should be followed (correct spelling and punctuation, limited use of jargon, no text speak etc.) but generally the rules are situational. This may be influenced by the culture of your industry, the social norms in your country, how long you personally have been doing business with this person, whether you are the customer or the supplier in this relationship and the information to be conveyed in the message.
In face to face communication we only receive less than 10% of the message through the words that are used. The rest of our understanding comes from tone of voice and facial expression/body language. Since none of this is available in an email you have to hope that the recipient reads it with the same tone of voice in his head that you had when you wrote it. This and a myriad of other factors are why getting right is so important, as you have identified.
My advice would be to engage a trainer capable of tailoring an email communication skills course to your particular business situation. Give your people the skills to prepare effective communications and develop their discretion, understanding and empathy for their business relationships to get the tone and familiarity right for each individual correspondent.
one of most effective ways to train employees in day-to-day operational activities , is to involve them in the learning process.
emails is is an operation that is repeatedly used , then you will have different point of views on what is wrong and what is right.
you need to conduct a quick TNA workshop :
1- invite a sample of 4-8 employees.
2- have samples of the current emails that needs improvement.
3- encourage them to identify what needs improvement " what is the right thing to do"
4- do not brainstorm at the moment
5-assign each employee " or team of two " to a specific improvement point , for ex : how to send a recognition mail " , or "when to use underlined words" , you give several assignments to the same group or person.
6-give them a deadline to submit their findings on a power-point format.
7- collaborate , modify , customize and create a ppt for your training workshop
8- do another workshop for all your staff , recognize those who were involved in developing the workshop.
there you have it , learning and recognition all in one :)
Well, There are no short-cuts. Hire a professional trainer, provide guidelines, help them with ready-made templates and ask them to improve them further... that is learning by doing.
The simple answer (and apologies for the straight approach) is to talk to us. This is all we do and our track record is second to none.
We generate another month for people every year, cut stress, increase clarity - all from a 60-minute session (and we also guarantee our results).
As a starting point I suggest you need to develop some standards that you want people to follow. It's OK to let people's personality shine through, but you want to present your company in a professional way. You would not want everyone to design their own logo or letterhead.
Once you have your standards (typical greeting, signature, level of formality, response time....) you need to put the information to your people in a way they will understand.
Please get back to me if you'd like to chat more about this.
That is a very difficult question as email writing and etiquette is constantly changing. However, business etiquette does not change, you have to be professional, talk about facts, use proper grammar, be polite.
I would recommend keeping emails concise and to the point. You could cc or bcc someone in HR to read through business email to make sure that they are maintaining proper business etiquette.
You could give them some samples of the formatting that you want, but I don't think you want a set template for your employees, because that kind of stifles employee individuality.
I think it's more important that you tell employees to just not rush their emails, to read through them before they send it and attempt to be authentic. Of course, make sure there are no glaring typos or something that might misrepresent your company.
Thank you all for your all valuable inputs and recommendations. It was really nice to see such helping hands.
Look forward to interact with all you guys in future as well.
You can try short courses (classroom) as well as webinars available online. But I agree with one of the respondents earlier: you can "vet" the emails of your employees for a few weeks/months until they learn the jargon and etiquette required for your department. This is a tried and true way to ensure that an acceptable standard is set. It is also recommended that you provide some guidelines as to do's and don'ts as well as samples of correspondence used by your department in the past. Hope this helps...Good luck!
as a first tip, email it’s like person to person communication (H2H), be friendly at beginning, then go direct to the point clarifying your questions then close with a positive phrase. Most of us hate long emails to make one question. that’s my suggestion. Regards from Mexico.
Bhushan, Could you please share some specific examples of the problems you are experiencing.? It would help everyone be a bit more on target with their responses. Thank you.
This is important because of the desire to 1) present a positive image and promote a high standard within the company, and 2) avoid problems such as misunderstanding, hurt feelings, much wasted time, and deterioration of relationships.
1. If you haven't, establish standards of conduct through such devices as a mission statement and a Values statement, which your company realizes are important for its success. This could be part of your strategic plan, your branding strategy, and your sales training.
2. Establish policy and standards for email content in various contexts. Sales letters, service letters (handling complaints) intra-company. For instance, a rule could be that all email must reflect civility and respect. There could be a rule against arguing via email... a very wasteful exercise.
3. For people who need it because of expereince or writing skill, their email to the public may be subject to review by a co-worker.
4. When to use email and when to call.
5. Have everyone very familiar with standards through examples and templates, so that they know if their skill is sufficient or not. If it is not, make available training in certain areas. It's always best if the student desides that he wants the training, rather than being told to take class because he nees it. (motivaiton)
In a business setting, the email should be treated as simply a sending vehicle for a business letter. That said, ; you need to ensure that they can write a proper business letter first, including grammar, punctuation, spelling, restricted use of acronyms and shortcuts, and formatting.
The tendency to be informal in email needs to be avoided in business setting, unless the relationship is already formed and is already casual. Even in a casual business relationship, an email is not a text where the shorter, the better.