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Email overload and poor communication

1969

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I receive about 75 work related emails a day on average. Partly because of of my work and partly because of my nature it’s necessary for me to read them for detail and usually to respond. Almost invariably, what has come to me is just a string of people passing on problems in a string of Chinese Whispers. I think some are evidence of sloppy thought, some are poorly written and others are actually just playing stupid and getting it of their plate. I actually started doing the later as a passive aggressive game myself at one point. To respond to a typical email I usually have to begin with a serious of clarifying questions about the content of the email as well as asking about shit that they didn’t tell me but should have.

I’ve considered everything from an anonymous “open letter to the company” to addressing each person individually as it comes up. Unfortunately I work in a fast paced environment (which contributes to the issue) and so my plans for total organizational communication rehab don’t really align with reality. I’d love feedback from others that have had success in dealing with this issue.
 

ginlimetonic

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*sounds like a large orgnization
*don't suppose you're high enough in the food chain to implement changes or give out beratings to address this. Sending department wide emails may be a death sentence.
*either you work in Back office/MO in which your job is specifically to deal with these emails, or
*you are a manager when people cc you in on these emails.

suggest you give them a call.. 10 min phone call can save you 5 more emails trails...
 

HRoi

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yes, i think the appropriate response depends on your level in the company. are these emails all addressed specifically to you? if a decent amount are cc's you need to practice scan and file/dump. as for people passing along problems i get a shit ton of these too - something along the lines of "this is a problem - don't you think it should be fixed?", implying that i should be responsible for fixing it. for those people my response is - people i'm senior to or equal to - i agree that it's a problem and can they please research a workable solution and put together a proposal. my boss(es) - i'd be happy to jump on that for you. however, i'm already doing 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5 so where does this fall within this priority list? i find this usually kills all the problems no one cares about, and if the problem really needs fixing then it will still get taken care of (although not always by me
)
 

1969

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Thanks for the responses. For lack of a better description I manage crisis for a large company...and this is part of the problem I suppose. I deal directly with a VP, lead counsel, PR and the Feds. As I said, it's partly a lack of process, partly not following the one's in place and partly people just being poor problem solvers. In thinking a little more about this I've consider approaching HR to have them publish some sort of guide so that it doesn't come from me.
 

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