Emails no key leadership tool
60% of superior-team-communication is face-to-face and it could be even more if the team is to choose. This is true particularly in comparison with other communication channels that are typically in use like the phone (26%) or the email (13%) according to a survey among 265 employees in Germany launched by German and Belgian scientists The key finding, though, were the bad results for emails which are doubtlessly one of the prefered ways to get in touch with anyone in our digital world.
Leaders who favor management-by-email which means providing tasks, inputs and feedbacks predominantly through emails have to live with a negative reputation after all. This behavior is interpreted as lack of willingness to spend time with their teams, as lack of identification with the people they are responsible for and with low appreciation .
The scientists therefore recommend people managers to be aware of when face-to-face communication has to be prioritized under all circumstances and to use video-communication i.e. web casts if personal meetings with their teams are actually not possible.
Emails from The Boss – Curse or Blessing? Relations between Communications Chnalles, Leader Evaluation and Employees Attitude. Braun/Bark/Kirchner/Stegmann/Van Dick. In International Journal of Business Communication, 2019, 56/1, 50-81.
From the practice:
Yes! Emails can do more harm than good if they are not used properly and this affects primarily internal communication. There are 2 key moments when emails are absolutely the worst you could do as a leader: 1. In case of news and 2. in case of issues. In both cases questions and comments will and shall pop up very likely and very quickly among the recipients, questions and comments you will and shall deal with much better face-to-face than in any written form. Let alone the fact that those Questions and comments are very rarely addressed by emails, so rather be suppressed instead of spoken out openly.
Honestly: It takes much much much too long to text an email so professionally and empathically that all potential misunderstandings or legitimate doubts that might pop up at the recipient are proactively managed. Face-to-face is here the only effective chance to move forward at once successfully.
Emails do have their merits when you want people to remember you, topics or meetings, when you want to inform about minor adjustments of projects or decisions or to deliver material and scripts.
So let me underline the recommendations of the scientists: Select your communication channel carefully. Please talk once more than less to members of your staff or your peers. Yes, webcasts are a brillant idea for big corporations, to communicate being physically with your interlocutors or audience still is the very best option.