Given how often most of us use email, it’s surprising how truly awful at it so many folks are. This is a problem, as poor email habits can seriously impact both your productivity and your professionalism. Here are 6 tips for email success at your child care center:
1. Check it regularly – but not too regularly. People who work in non-desk-dweller jobs (like child care) often neglect to check their work email on a regular basis. This is disconcerting to both current and prospective parents.
Make it a habit to check email at least once every business day. On the other hand, you don’t want to be living in your inbox, either – so open, check and respond, and set it aside.
2. “BCC” is your friend. If you need to email a list of people, put just your own email address in the “to” field and put everyone else in the “BCC” field. This protects the privacy of the folks you’re emailing (because they can’t see each other’s email addresses) and prevents problematic “reply all”s. It just looks neater, too.
3. Don’t be a spammer. Many people think having someone’s email address is the same as having permission to add them to their email list. This is not the case – while it’s OK to email current parents news and announcements and such, you need affirmative opt-ins for most other kinds of group emails.
Signing up for a service like MailChimp (which I use) or Constant Contact takes care of this automatically, as it double-checks that people want to truly receive your emails. It also provides easy “unsubscribe” links – which are also required by law.
4. Watch your tone. My theory is that emoticons and emjois have become wildly popular because it can be hard to convey the right tone when using written words. A smart, to-the-point friend of mine drafts her emails and then adds a folksy line up top (e.g., “Hope you had a great weekend!”) in order to avoid unintentionally sounding too abrupt.
5. Avoid sensitive topics. For the reason above, as well as for the fact that you don’t want to appear to be cravenly hiding behind your keyboard, avoid discussing sensitive topics via email unless there’s truly no other option. A phone call is better – and meeting in person is better still.
6. Email in haste, repent at leisure. My dad is retired now, but back when he was working he’d often fire off a nasty letter to someone and ask his assistant to mail it. She always deliberately dragged her feet on getting to the mailbox, knowing that he’d come to her in a day or two – with a cooler head – asking her to tear it up.
Hot-headed emails, alas, take even less effort to send than letters and can also be forwarded far and wide by indignant recipients. Sleep on it first – and insert the “send” address as the very last thing you do, to avoid accidentally releasing your poisoned arrow before you’re ready.
Bottom line? Email is a great tool – but also one that can cause great damage (or, at the very least, great annoyance). Wield it with care and caution.