When people think of communication skills in leadership, they probably think of skills like clearly communicating expectations to employees, delegating tasks, leading meetings and managing conflict. Handling everyday face-to-face interactions is a big part of a leadership role but another needed skill is effective leadership email communication. Leaders may be judged on the content and quality of their emails by many different people including employees, colleagues, vendors and potential hires so it makes sense to work on improving email communication skills.
Before sending any email, consider whether an email is the best form of communication for this message. If you have a complex message to deliver, it’s probably preferable to do so in person. Email isn’t meant to replace face-to-face interactions, but it can be a good tool for communicating quick messages. How can you improve your leadership email communication?
Keep Messages Simple
Many people struggle to stay on top of email messages. When you write an email, focus on a single subject rather than trying to include information on multiple topics. People want to get through an email quickly and they don’t want to take the time to read emails that are long and rambling. Too many topics in a single email can quickly lead to information overload.
Use short paragraphs and bullet points if needed. This is easier to read on a computer screen than a big block of text. Include links or attachments if there’s additional information to provide.
Subject Lines Matter
Whether your email is directed at your staff, senior management or a contact outside your company, it’s important to have a clear subject line so that the recipient or recipients have an idea of what the email is about immediately. Vague subject lines may make it seem less important to open the email. Subject lines that are clear and specific let people know exactly what you’re contacting them about, and these emails are easy to find in the inbox if readers need to search for them later.
Consider who is receiving the message when setting the tone for an email. If you’re writing to your team, use a friendly and relaxed tone. You may need to use a more professional tone with senior management or people outside the company. Reread what you have written before you hit send, and it’s never a bad idea to run a spell-check. An email written hurriedly using bad grammar or misspelled words lets others know you don’t pay attention to details. If you’re feeling angry about something, don’t send a nasty email.
Other Email Best Practices
As you work on improving your leadership email communication, consider these other email best practices:
- Don’t reply all. If you’re included in an email sent to a group of people by someone else, don’t “reply all”. If you’ve written an email directed at your team, discourage employees from using “reply all” unless there’s a reason to do so.
- Time-sensitive matters. Avoid using email if your topic is time sensitive.
- Clear instructions. If you need the recipient to take an action, make sure your instructions are clear.
- Include your signature. Include a signature on your emails that includes your job title and contact information, especially when communicating with people outside the company. Even if you’re emailing your own team, if they happen to forward the email, your contact information is still easy to find.
The goal is to write emails that are quick and to the point. Like other forms of communication, writing effective emails takes practice. Regular practice on leadership email communication will lead to improvement in your ability to write emails that people want to read.
For information on leadership programs, reach out to Peaceful Leaders Academy.