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, 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!
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.
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 :)
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.
You can send a few templates as case study. Later, you can assign a few exercises, assess and provide feedback for improvement.
Hire a professional trainer. We have done that in past. Let me know if you are interested in a reference.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
Best way to train your employess is bring in someone that can train them. This is one of my specialities; if you want more info please peruse my site.
Ouch tough one.Search doe some courses at colleges particularly Continuing Education programs.Be clear consistent do not brag about your company.I use to teach a course similar to this called note taking.Get everyone in a room and ask them what and how they think they should write the emails. Crowd sourcing.
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.
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)
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.
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.
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!
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.