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?
Bhushan business emails and business etiquette should be covered in the company's email etiquette policy. If you do not have one you may want to consider implementing one.
Topics to include - addressing of emails, hellos and goodbyes, paying attention to the subject line, email signatures, use of jargon e.g lol etc.
Once the company decides on this then it should be rolled out to your staff, normally via a general meeting or you can opt for a meeting specific to training in this area. Feel free to contact me if you need help.
Most important is spelling and grammar with only well known and acceptable abbreviations. The response must address the question or situation directly leaving the option for further contact, by phone or additional correspondence. The response should be timely within a stipulated time frame - 12 hours one day or less.
There are many rules and recommendations when it comes to electronic communications and etiquette, and unfortunately many of them do not apply universally.
There are many courses available for business writing and communication. I would suggest that you invest in a couple of key personnel to attend such a class and then have those individuals teach a class to the rest of your personnel. This is a two-fold suggestion - one, it will minimize cost versus sending an entire department to an outside class and two, it will empower those individuals as "subject matter experts" in the topic.
Please let me know if you want further details or a course recommendation. Good luck and I applaud your efforts to improve your organization's communications!
Chapter 4 on Communication from "The Servant Manager, 203 tips from the best places to work in America" addresses this and a host of related topics. Tip 51
"Write Effective E-mails" is right on point. This can be purchased though Birch Grove Publishing.
Try some of these points for training. There are two important issues to address with email. First, it stays on record and can be related to the front page of the paper. You have no control once its in the hands of anyone else. It may be found laying in a department for all to read, posted on a bulletin board or kept for personal records. Second, If it is going to be a long email, it might be best discussed over the phone or one-on-one. No one wants to read a book. Get to the point, make it clear and easy to understand. In my observation, the areas listed below may be good training pieces.
1. Email does not need to be formal. It reads much easier when informal, but still professional. Try to lay off the text shortcuts such as lol or ttyl.
2. The signature needs contact info.
3. Use BBC and CC correctly. BBC is a blind copy. This recipient list is hidden others will not see that the email was sent to them. Normally you do not want to put names here unless required by a supervisor. It can be self-sabotaging to secretly inform someone else of an email and not let others know. You can probably figure how trust issues may enter the picture. If you did not know how this worked, you may have done it by mistake. Truth is no one may know...lucky you--no trust issues! Don't do it anymore though. Use The BBC for one reason--long distribution lists, so we don't have a long list of names to scroll through.
Use Courtesy Copy (CC) to copy to necessary parties on a small distribution list. Use it sparingly because you may end up receiving information from some that were not supposed to answer. CC is for as needed.
4. Emotions have no place in email. I know it sounds hard and cold, but if you need to express emotion, just remember, no one can hear your inflections.
5. When finalizing your email, gauge yourself on the following three items:
-It is no more than a few short paragraphs with bullet points
-It is conversational and main points are highlighted using bold or italicized lettering
-You backed off of having too many graphics, large attachments, or tables.
Using this good business email sense will help send emails easily to anyone in any office, anywhere.
Personally, we've never subscribed to formulaic templates, preferring the personality of the staff member to shine through and help build rapport.
What we originally did was manually check each outgoing mail for a few days and help the employee correct them where applicable. They soon got the hang of it and still retain the personal feel.
Hire a professional trainer. We have done that in past. Let me know if you are interested in a reference.
You can send a few templates as case study. Later, you can assign a few exercises, assess and provide feedback for improvement.
Bhushan, I recently was charged with developing a sales structure for an organization - everything from prospect-facing materials and pricing to internal commission and organizational structure. Sadly, many individuals don't take the time or have the ability to formulate emails which are "up to snuff." To remedy this, we built a number of email templates to serve as general guides. Be forewarned, individuals will often blindly replace the recipient information selectively - meaning they'll miss a name change here and there. Example: A letter to ACME Manufacturing may reference Bob's Car Wash elsewhere in the correspondence. Be wary of this. We urged cutting and pasting from a "master document" as opposed to forwarding old emails. It seems people were more aware of the content if they had to select certain phrases from an external document.
So specific to outward-bound emails, I'd create a variety of templates. It seems daunting, but for most organizations, you have initial contact, a few follow-up email types, meeting follow-ups, post-demonstration follow-ups, etc. It's not as difficult as it seems once you get hands-on and start putting together a list.
Just imagine scenarios which encompass the greatest percentage of communication "types" and build suggested language surrounding those. For correspondence requiring very specific tailoring, let the cream rise to the top. Find the employees which excel at tailoring letters and meeting your standards and refer those types of correspondence to them. Not everyone can write well in an email, especially cold emails and sales.
Best of luck!