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What expectations do you have of your team members when it comes to email responsiveness?


SmartPulse — our weekly nonscientific reader poll in SmartBrief on Leadership — tracks feedback from over 240,000 business leaders. We run the poll question each week in our newsletter.

What expectations do you have of your team members when it comes to email responsiveness?

  • I expect a response only during working hours: 51%
  • I expect a response to all emails within a few hours of it being sent: 6%
  • I expect responses on urgent items immediately and others during normal hours: 43%

Reasonable expectations? While many respondents only expect a response during working hours, 43% expected responses to “urgent” items immediately even outside working hours. The real question here is what constitutes “urgent” because we all have different definitions. I challenge you to assess your view of urgent. Does that proposal really have to go out that night? Is the client really going to read it over dinner? Or can it wait until morning? Do you really need that report with the latest production numbers at 10 p.m.? Are you going to act on them that night or is it just curiosity that has you asking. “Urgency” is a slippery slope that leads us to be emailing at all hours of the day and night. Challenge the definition of urgent if you want some of that madness to stop. And if you expect an email at all hours regardless of work hours or not, I hate to break it to you but your team probably hates you.

Mike Figliuolo is managing director of thoughtLEADERS. Before launching his own company, he worked at McKinsey & Co., Capital One and Scotts Miracle-Gro. He is a graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. He’s the author of three leadership books: “One Piece of Paper,” “Lead Inside the Box” and “The Elegant Pitch.”