Avoiding management by email

management by emailWith the ease of email, most people in their personal life may send lots of email.  Email is simple. Email is quick. Email can be done without a face-to-face meeting.  Email is also free for most.

Many who have a law firm are tempted to email frequently within their law firm.  So, versus that face to face meeting, law firm managers are tempted to send lots of emails. Versus picking up the phone and talking to somebody or doing a video conference even, many are tempted to simply send an email.

Like in a personal setting, in a business setting, sending an email is quick. It is also easy.  It is also free.  It can be done in the matter of a few minutes. Whether the email is a mass email to multiple employees, or an email to another individual at the firm, the email can be sent in minutes.

The reality is management by email is dangerous. Email can be misinterpreted. Once an email is sent, it cannot be taken back. The true meaning of what somebody meant to say isn’t always captured by email.  Many can also type an email when they are frustrated or angry.  All of that frustration or anger can then be visibly unfiltered through email. Sometimes, people are willing to say something by e-mail that they wouldn’t say in-person because of the medium. In some instances, an employee may not even read the whole e-mail or just gloss over what the view are the key parts.

Even if you sent an email with the kindest and most diplomatic of intentions, it does not mean the reader will take it way. So, the whole intention of the email could be negated. And one email can often lead to a flurry of emails back and forth. Thus, the email that was meant to help or make things better in a business setting can then turn out to have made matters worse.

Instead of sending an email, have a one-on-one meeting with somebody. If you need to communicate something to multiple law firm employees, meet those multiple law firm employees in-person. If an in-person meeting won’t work, try a video conference meeting or teleconference. This way, questions can be asked and answered, the vocal tone can be assessed and the true intention of the communication can be effectively conveyed.

If you have to send an email, leave that to the relatively mundane and routine affairs (and passing along of general information) that may exist within your law firm where there is no reasonable way an email can be taken with the wrong meaning. But to the extent possible: Do not manage your law firm by email.

If you have any thoughts, feel free to share them below.

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