Wondering why your boss hasn’t responded to yesterday’s urgent e-mail? It might be because he or she hasn’t had the time. Today’s managers typically receive dozens — or even hundreds — of messages each day. In fact, when surveyed by Robert Half International, nearly three-quarters of executives said e-mail is their primary form of communication at work. Here are some tips to make sure yours aren’t perpetually labeled “unread”:
- Keep it short. Don’t bury your main point under a mountain of details. The more succinct your e-mail message, the more likely you’ll receive a prompt reply.
- Use the subject line to your advantage. Avoid generic subject lines. Instead of “Details” or “Reminder,” try “For approval: Advertising Budget Figures” instead. A specific subject line is especially important for a time-sensitive message.
- Include an action step. Unless you request a response, an executive may assume you’re sending the message as an FYI. Outline the reply you’re seeking and when you need to receive it.
- Keep it simple. It’s easier to respond to one piece of information or action item, so don’t send your manager a laundry list of requests.
- Don’t include confidential information. E-mail is often forwarded, so don’t put sensitive news in your message. If you have something confidential to share with your manager, do so face to face.
- Proofread. Check your e-mail carefully for errors. Typos and other mistakes rarely go unnoticed by the recipient.
- Flag few messages as high priority. Be judicious when designating messages as high priority. Like the boy who cried wolf, if you overuse this function, it will quickly lose its meaning.