Email has the enormous potential for enabling, as well as complicating, the ways we communicate. Lisa Kimball, a forerunner of the Virtual Team concept, calls email the “pigeon of technology. It’s everywhere.” Whether you are two feet away or two continents away, email is quickly becoming the standard method for business communication. Whether we share information, query employees, explore possibilities, bounce ideas off of others or update action items, email is emerging as the prime vehicle for teams to communicate.
As a team, discuss the following ground rules. Your team may wholeheartedly agree, violently disagree, agree with reservations, or have their own ground rules to add. The value is in the discussion, and the team’s agreement to follow their customized list of email ground rules.
Agree on how often team members will check messages. For example, if in the office, we agree to check our inbox first thing in the morning, at lunch and before we leave for the day. While traveling, we agree to check our email at least once a day. Agree on a reasonable time to respond to incoming email – typically within one working day.
Know each other’s technical limitations and capabilities. Some have high-speed access and instant email notification. Others, especially those emailing from home, may have technical limitations that affect how quickly they can receive or respond.
Be tolerant of your teammates’ mistakes. Some are new to using email correctly, so be gracious. Coach them. Support them. Give helpful feedback and suggestions. On the other hand, don’t be shy, either. Ask others for help and learn how to use email its fullest and best potential.
Question: Do you have your team’s email ground rules established?
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