Good management target: Screamails

IMG_2460We’ve all gotten them: Emails that are terse, all-capped, copying everyone in the world and sent with HIGHEST PRIORITY. They usually arrive late on a Friday, or even in the middle of the night. These are the emails that make good managers cringe, emails that are destructive of teams, of morale, of productivity. Scream-mails.

So how about a “no screamail” policy? What would that look like? I’d say you’ve got two good filters:

  • Did your blood pressure just go up? If you read an email and felt your pulse soar, it’s time to take that conversation off the keyboard. Who do you need to talk to — not email — to address that blood-boiling issue?
  • Are there WAY more people on the CC line than should be? This may not be a screamail, but it could be its evil twin, the CYAmail. Either way, this is not actually a communication, and should not be treated as such.

And a simple old-fashioned solution: If email’s lack of tone or your level of anger are hindering good communication, stop. Take your hands or thumbs off the keyboard. Stand up and walk around a bit. Then call the person you’re trying to communicate with, or walk down the hall to their office. Uncomfortable? Maybe. More productive than yet another steaming pile of electrons? You bet.