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Making it less likely people email you

1 min read: The leader of a business area observed that he sent over 1200 emails and received over 4000 emails in a typical month. He also observed that the behavioural norms around email within his team were removing the opportunity to have engaging conversations, encouraging others who had been cc’d in to communicate via email and also prompting senior managers to intervene when not necessary.

The behaviour he wanted to change was to make it less likely that people emailed one another and more likely they would have face to face or telephone conversations. He made the following changes:

  • Limited himself to 10 emails per day

  • Stopped using the reply to all function

  • Picked up the phone and talked to the team and external influencers to reduce the email volume

  • Introduced regular informal meetings with the team and had more informal conversations

  • Shared the data on email use and discussed with team

  • Fed back team members who were relying too heavily on email conversation

The impact of these changes was a 38% reduction in sent items and a 50% reduction in received items. He also gained back over 40 hours of time previously spent managing email that could be used to have more engaging conversations. The participants involved reported back that they felt much closer to what was actually going on because they were engaging in real conversations rather than managing email.

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