An email goes out to all 1000 of a company’s employees: “Remember to update your personal information on our new portal…”
The email doesn’t mention the link to the portal or any instructions as to how to find it. Worse, the reminder email comes from a different person than the one who originally informed the employees of the portal. Furthermore, it goes out to all employees, not just those who haven’t completed the task yet. Each employee needs to find the link to the website where they’re supposed to do the work. (Who would have sent the email? When did it come in? What’s the website called; maybe I can search for that? Did I do the work in the first place? How do I check that?)
If you suppose that your employees cost the company a conservative average of $30.00 per hour, this email just cost the company over $1000.
How many times have you issued or received an email saying “Please reply to last week’s invitation” or “Go to the travel website”? If you want to write more effective, helpful reminder emails:
- Don’t be afraid of insulting people by reminding them where to find the information they need. No one except psychopaths will be angry with you for reminding them, but people will be annoyed if they have to waste time remembering or finding the extra information they need.
- Remember that other people are not in your head or in your daily work. Things that may seem obvious to you are often unbelievably opaque to your colleagues.
- Include a copy of your Outlook meeting agenda both in the meeting invitation and in an email, bearing the same title as the original meeting, immediately following. People don’t always read a meeting invitation before accepting it.
- Send out a “homework reminder” the day before a meeting if you’re asking participants to come prepared for the meeting. Remember to include all the information the participants need to prepare for the meeting . . . or you’ll have to read this post all over again!