Be glad people want your [help-time-advice-fill-in-the-blank].
I’ve seen a lot of hand-wringing lately about e-mail volume. Often it syncs with hallelujahs about Google’s Priority Inbox feature, which some people seem to suggest is “the only mail I’m going to read.” And here I was thinking it’s a great tool to help prioritize what needs my near-term attention.
Seriously, e-mail volume isn’t the problem. You are (if you can’t figure out how to scale).
1. My first job out of college was to answer mail. And members of Congress get a lot of mail. My job was to open the letters and identify: (a) topics that could be answered with an existing form letter; (b) hot topics that required a new form letter; (c) easy-t0-answer queries; (d) letters that needed a custom response. (The truly personal stuff went into a separate stack for the congressman’s attention.)
2. When I was a little girl, I drew a picture of a pink bunny for my dad’s boss. Secretary of Boss sees it and determines that it requires a response. So she drafts one. He signs it. If Dean Rusk could do it, so can you.
The “Most Important People” I know today answer their e-mail, often far faster than I expect. The message this sends is that being responsive to employees, colleagues, and community is a priority and not a burden.
What message are you sending?
Photo by Theodore Scott (Flickr).