Why “I Hate Email”, Echoes In Many Workplaces

by Michael Hoffman

Let’s not beat about the bush. “I hate email” is said under many a breath for one main reason (yes there are many others but I’m sure you’ll agree this tops the list): It sucks out huge swaths of time without giving us any idea of what our return on investment is. That’s exactly the problem with emails and why people say “I hate email”

To prove my point, I’ll bet you anything that if you could see your project or bonus needle move just a wee bit to the right towards your goal every time you sent an email — and more than just a wee bit if it was an important email, you would stop hating email, right? and you would start to be more productive and efficient.

It is a basic human need to feel progress, and because our inboxes can’t tell us: “That one.  The one from Bob.  Answer that one from Bob and you’ll be 27% closer to getting that order.”, we see it as one of those chores you have to do that gets in the way of your real work.

This disdain and ignorance about the importance of proper email management and timely (not necessarily urgent) responses to email is pandemic, and you need not look further than your own company to recognize how blissfully ignorant your leadership is regarding this key area.

Why your leadership doesn’t care on improving productivity related to email

There are five main reasons why leadership doesn’t care.

  1. Your leadership does not know how bad the situation is
  2. They have no one in place that oversees finding a solution to the problem that they don’t know anything about.
  3. The person that they don’t have in place to find a solution to the problem they don’t know anything about wouldn’t have the slightest idea of how to measure the problem in order to alarm the leadership and fix the problem.
  4. They don’t know of a dependable easy solution to fix the problem they don’t know anything about.
  5. Dunning-Kruger: You don’t know what you don’t know. That is unless there is consciousness about not knowing something, one cannot objectively evaluate their level of competency or incompetency.

As a sidebar, this reminds me of the time I had bought my first cell phone in 1995, and upon showing it to various friends and family, I was given the exact same rebuff on each occasion I showed it off:  What do you need that for?  You should have seen me trying to convince each one.  I wish I had recorded it, so I could play it back to them.

You can’t blame the general public for not being early adopters, but email has been around for 25 years now! What has your company done during that time to improve the management of email?

Status quo, the all-time enemy of growth and improvement

I think there have been more than enough articles on the Internet claiming that knowledge workers spend 25% of their day or more managing email.  Just as many reports that email is going to be here for a long time still. That one good reason to stop hating email.

For those who were not math majors in college, that means that your company gambles at least 25 percent of your gross salary on your ability to manage email effectively.  Btw, I don’t use the word gamble whimsically.  They literally blindly trust you in this area.

With that information, you’d think that your leadership would scratch their heads and at least ponder the idea of finding out if their teams were at all productive with email.

Guess what?  Your leadership hasn’t.  That 25 percent or more of your day isn’t even on their radar.  You could be the poorest email manager on the planet, wasting 5 to 10 hours a week, missing important deadlines, holding up projects or even just working on easy tasks instead of the more complex items that move your company’s fly-wheel twenty times faster and they would have no clue.

That wouldn’t be so bad if employees were a 3,5 out of 5 as they normally believe their ability to manage email to be, but since it’s more likely that they are 2’s out of 10, it’s probably the biggest productivity thief in your organization.

See my previous article to understand the steps to take to start to appreciating email and increasing your overall team productivity.

Here is a link to find out more about LeanMail and to register for our Free LeanMail introductory workshop.

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