Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Hey Crooks, Keep Sending Emails!

Never send an email that you wouldn’t mind seeing on the front page of the newspaper.

That little bit of advice reminds me to reread my emails to see how they might come across to my recipients. Makes me ask myself if picking up the telephone might not be a better way to communicate in a particular case. Nudges me to take the time to rewrite and delete phrases.

It seems like we should all know this by now. But careers curtailed by thoughtless emails are weekly fare in the news.

Emails are great for distributing information and for confirming tasks and responsibilities. But even those areas should be double-checked before using email – what kind of tasks and responsibilities are being discussed?

In Seattle, it might have been an email that was the last straw in whether to fire the School Superintendent over a $1.8 million mismanaged sub-contracting program in which she was cleared of any involvement. Two of the Superintendent’s top managers had discussed via email what to do about a bad report on the program.

"The other consideration is with regards to next week's executive session," one manager’s e-mail reads, referring to a meeting of the School Board. "If I understood you correctly, you and the Supt. didn't want us to hand out the report."

The report wasn’t distributed to the School Board, and a culture of deception is not tolerated. Out she goes.

The hacker group Anonymous has received lots of business press lately since they broke into security firm HBGary Federal’s systems last month and exposed emails that suggested illegal activities were being planned against a competitor of their client, the Chamber of Commerce. This resulted in the resignation of HBGary’s CEO and a congressional investigation. Anonymous has also hacked into Bank of America’s systems and published emails that they say provide evidence of fraud.

It seems like we should also know by now that nefarious activities shouldn’t be conducted at all. But if you choose to engage in them, please do write about them in your emails. It’s so much easier to prove guilt that way.

For those of us who are driven by expedience, slow down! Take a minute to review your email before you hit “Reply”. Emails that are sent without prudent judgment can cause the gamut from misunderstandings to lawsuits. Here’s the (literal) bottom line: If you’d be embarrassed to have your email published on the front page of the paper, don’t send it.

There are just "two" many examples of poor email judgment!

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