CIOs Should Stop Sending Emails – Now!

by drjim on April 18, 2012

CIOs need to learn when NOT to use email

CIOs need to learn when NOT to use email

Those cloning experiments sure seem to have only been able to create more sheep so far – and that’s not going to help overworked CIOs! It seems as though we have more things to do and less time than ever to get them done. Arguably the most important part of any CIOs job is to communicate with your staff. How you go about doing that can be critical to both your overall success and the success of your IT department. I’ve got news for you: if you’re using email to do this, then you’re doing it wrong.

Email Has No Feeling

I don’t care how much of a cold and impersonal CIO you are. Every time that you talk with someone, you include some level of emotions in what you are saying. You may be angry, you may be happy, not matter what – you are something.

The problem with email is that it’s nothing. Your emails are never happy, sad, or mad. The person that you’ve sent your email to can’t tell what you were feeling when you wrote your email.

What this means is that the possibility of a miscommunication skyrockets when we use email. Since we can’t properly let the reader of our email know how we were feeling when we wrote the email, the possibility of getting signals mixed up is very probable.

Email Creates Negative Responses

What do you do when you read an email that has been sent to you? I’m willing to bet that more often than not, you jot off a quick reply to the sender right then and there. Without giving it a lot of thought.

Things get even more tricky when we get negative emails – someone yelling at us or complaining about something. What happens is that we get bent out of shape and our anger wells up inside of us and then comes rushing out through our fingertips as we type out that heated email that we’re going to send back.

We all know what the right thing to do here is (even if we don’t always do it). When we get an email that makes us mad, we really need to stand up and walk away. Don’t reply to that email right off the bat. In fact, if at all possible, don’t reply to it today – wait a day. That will allow everything to cool down and you’ll be able to craft a reply that you won’t regret later on.

Email Creates Debates That Are Not Needed

Because of the anonymous nature of email and because we really can’t figure out what the other people are thinking, debates can go on and on. It’s very hard to stop a debate once it’s stated via email.

Miscommunication and the simple fact that it’s so easy to just flip another email back to the sender contribute to this problem. Even after the primary issue has been resolved, the discussion can go on and on as both parties continue to explore.

Debates are one of the key communication areas that are not well served by email. The back-and-forth nature of this type of communication along with the need to “see” what the other side really means results in the need for face-to-face contact.

What All Of This Means For You

Look, email is a great tool. I use it, you use it, everybody in the IT sector uses it. The use of email is probably included in definition of information technology. The key is to not over use it or use it in the wrong situations. CIOs need to be able to identify when and where the correct times to use emails are.

Email has three distinct problems associated with it. First, it does a lousy job of communicating emotion and this can lead to confusion on the part of the receiver of your email. Next it can cause people to become instantly angry – they don’t take the time to think about what they’ve read before they fire off a response. Finally, email makes it too easy to keep talking about an issue long after it should have been put to bed.

I’m not suggesting that CIOs stop using email. Far from it. Rather, I’d actually like to see CIOs use email as their communication technique of last resort. The importance of information technology is so great that you need to pick up the phone or walk over to someone’s office instead of firing off that next email. You just might end up being glad that you did!

– Dr. Jim Anderson
Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World IT Department Leadership Skills™

Question For You: How do you think that a CIO can work accurate emotion into the emails that you do send?

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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

Pity the poor CIOs who gets the idea that what his IT department needs to do this year is to implement a process improvement project. It’s not that these types of projects are a bad thing to do, it’s just that all too often they don’t actually work out. Well, that was before we had a chance to talk about what CIOs need to do in order to make this a good use of everyone’s time…

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Ahmed April 19, 2012 at 12:41 am

Excellent advice Dr. Jim.

Glad to discover your blog.

Thanks,

Ahmed.

Reply

Dr. Jim Anderson April 19, 2012 at 9:32 pm

Ahmed: Glad you liked it — make sure that you check out the archive for more great advice!

Reply

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