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E-Mail: Productivity Tool or Black Hole?

Several years ago, undergoing an RIA audit by the regulator, I received by e-mail a very lengthy list of documents and information requested for the date of the audit. We all know this is standard procedure and this time was no different. Going through the list, I assigned different items to different persons in the firm, based on duties, expertise and availability. As did the regulator, I sent the full list assigned to a person in one e-mail.

That is where I was reminded that different people work in different ways and that assuming a person can read a list and go through it, item by item, and take care of business can be a BIG mistake. In a couple of cases I had to break out the items (no one had more than three or four items and, as Chief Compliance Officer, I had the lion’s share of nearly twenty) and send them individually.

Many years earlier, in another job I learned quickly how to be able to control e-mail work flow and get jobs completed. In that job, management was fond of sending long e-mails with numerous tasks or requests. However, the road did NOT run both ways and any e-mail with more than one topic or point just never got read all the way through. Management was far too busy and important to scroll down and read what was in the e-mail. It did not take many experiences before I learned to be extremely pointed and often to wait for a response to one e-mail request before sending on the next.

There have been advisers and clients who operate in the same way. If you have several questions for them you can be almost certain that some will be ignored, forgotten or just not responded to by the recipient of the e-mail. The person might mean well and plan to send the rest of the information later, but later often does not come, at least without a good poke from the person wanting the information.

What is the point of all this reminiscing? People are different in how they handle and process information and requests. Learn what works best for them and you will get the best productivity back. 

3 Comments to E-Mail: Productivity Tool or Black Hole?:

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