Project Practitioners > Project teams and e-mails

Project teams and e-mails

By Alfonso Bucero

Are you receiving too many e-mails?

Yes I am, may be a common answer. Project managers and team members usually receive too many e-mails in a daily basis. In my experience as a project manager, the most popular system of communication for project teams is the e-mail. However sometimes it is not efficiently used. The e-mail does not accurately transmit human emotions and intentions. Too often people misinterpret the content of an e-mail and that may causes a conflict among the sender and the receiver.

For example, I can remember the first customer project I managed in a multinational company. I reported the project status periodically to the management of my company, but I wrote a lot of details regarding technical issues and activities that were not crucial to report that status to upper mangers. I generated some conflicts among the recipients because I did not analyze the different stakeholders needs regarding communication in that project.

Project managers know that the main purpose of e-mailing is to communicate information. The fact of sending e-mails is not communicating. Communication occurs when a message is sent, and the recipient reads it. One of my best practices when I send an important e-mail to my project stakeholders is to give a phone call to the recipients to assure they will read it.

A key goal of e-mailing is to get a human response, I mean an acknowledgement of the content or a response to the intent of the e-mail. Noncommunicative e-mailing occurs when no reply is intended, such as sending out meeting materials or simply sharing information. These are instances of distributing information, not communicating. We may use other tools to distribute information spending time with our team to explain them its use.

Project teams typically distribute and communicate information. Communicating by e-mailing is much more challenging than sending out information. It takes crisp, clear, and compelling language and techniques. In order to make your e-mails more readable and reply friendly I suggest you the following best practices:

1.- The shorter, the better. Be concise and specific. A long e-mail need to be organized into short bullet statements. You may also use paragraph titles because are also helpful indexing a long e-mail for the reader.

2.- State what you want. It helps to state what you want up front and specify if there are any actions and deadlines requested. It is even better when the action requested is embedded in the title of the e-mail.

3.- Start positive and end positive. You need to structure e-mails: start positive, state your message, and then end positive. Start the e-mail with a positive greeting and acknowledging the other person's e-mail. This is nothing more than two to four words: "Thanks for writing", "Good hearing from you", and so on. A short, positive acknowledgement and greeting helps prepare the reader. After this opener, present the content of the message in a brief and concise note. Then end by closing with a positive and genuine remark:"Thanks for considering my note", "I appreciate your support" and so on.

Everybody appreciates good e-mail manners. Even a critical message be better communicated when it is writing in a positive and genuine way. This is the easiest and most effective piece of advice for publishing e-mails. People enjoy reading a positive e-mail among their sea of messages, especially when the e-mail praises their behaviors. It is a win-win situation. They look forward to receiving your e-mails, and you have a good chance that they will read it. Usually everybody always reads their happy e-mails first.

In general, e-mailing is an effective and fast way of recognizing and praising others. A written recognition is a keepsake that the recipient can read again and again. E-mailing is a quick and easy way to help motivate others. How many recognitions do you receive in your e-mail each day?

However e-mailing may be a way of demotivating people when the message is too negative or using the incorrect words because the emotional load from the writer. I strongly recommend you that when you receive a critical e-mail you need to read it at least three times before responding.

People needs to make an special effort to make their first e-mail of the day a positive one that acknowledges and praises someone. It sets a good tone for the rest of the day.

Project teams need to establish some rules on e-mailing. It is too easy to copy and send an e-mail or use the "reply all" button. You need to create the right distribution lists for your projects.


Alfonso Bucero
BUCERO PM Consulting

Not all comments are posted. Posted comments are subject to editing for clarity and length.

Post a comment

(Not displayed with comment.)

©Copyright 2000-2017 Emprend, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
About us   Site Map   View current sponsorship opportunities (PDF)
Contact us for more information or e-mail
Terms of Service and Privacy Policy

Stay Connected
Get our latest content delivered to your inbox, every other week. New case studies, articles, templates, online courses, and more. Check out our Newsletter Archive for past issues. Sign Up Now

Follow Us!
Linked In Facebook Twitter RSS Feeds

Got a Question?
Drop us an email or call us toll free:
7am-5pm Pacific
Monday - Friday
We'd love to talk to you.

Learn more about ProjectConnections and who writes our content. Want to learn more? Compare our membership levels.