Did you know that your millennial employees are virtually obsessed with email? In fact, millennials check email more frequently than any other generation, according to the Adobe Consumer Email Survey Report of 2017, with 14 percent reporting that they check email "constantly." Email is also their most commonly used tool for communicating at work.
Given how much your millennial staff rely on this form of communication, as a leader you may want to be able to teach them how to write better emails. Start by making sure that you have an official policy about electronic communications and that your employees know to follow it. Once you've got the legal considerations down, here are some useful guidelines to pass along.
- Know when email is the best method to use. And, by contrast, when face-to-face conversation, video conference, telephone, text or instant message is more appropriate. The Adobe report found that email is best for status updates, delivering feedback or asking brief questions.
- Summarize the purpose of the message in the subject line. Give your email's recipient a heads up regarding what the message is about in the subject line. Be succinct. "Reminder: Staff meeting at 2:00 today" is much better than the uninformative "When the next staff meeting is" or the vague "Announcement."
- Introduce yourself briefly, if needed. If your email is the first time the recipient is hearing from you, or if the email is a follow-up to an in-person or phone conversation, briefly explain who you are and why you're getting in touch. Are you emailing to arrange a convenient time to make a sales call? Are you a new point of contact? Are you checking in on the status of a report you requested? Lead with that information when appropriate.
- Keep it short. If you have so much information to share that it will take more than a few paragraphs, email may not be your best choice for conveying it. Perhaps a report, phone call or in-person meeting would be better. Otherwise, try to limit the length of your emails. Research conducted by Boomerang found the optimal length of an email message is between 50 and 125 words.
- Have one main point. Email is so popular because it's convenient: You send a message when it's convenient for you and the recipient responds when it's convenient for them. And you have much more space than a text message. But that doesn't mean that emails should be huge reports. Quite the opposite. The best emails have one message and stay focused on that message throughout, rather than meandering into related topics.
- Provide a call to action where appropriate. Make it obvious to the email recipient exactly what you want them to do as a result of your message. Do you need the answer to a question? Do you need them to confirm an upcoming meeting time? Do you need them to double-check a fact? Or if you're simply sharing information you think they'll be interested in, tell them no action is needed.
Knowing how to write better emails can help distinguish strong communicators from the rest. And if your millennial employees aspire to be leaders themselves one day, effective communication skills can help them get noticed.
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