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How to Write an Email to Your Boss

Submitted by on February 14, 2013 – 12:00 pm2 Comments | 23,659 views

I am answering a question from my readers today. The question is very simple – How do we write an email to our managers? Well the question might be simple, but the answer might vary from leader to leader. But I will try to provide a guide, based on my experiences.

Email to bossFirst we need to understand the mailbox of a leader.

  • It is always full.
  • They must prioritize.
  • They might even have a secretary screening the emails first.
  • They want to answer all, but might not have time to do so.
  • They have more important tasks.

With this in mind – I will try to create a list:

  1. Do you need to send an email?
    Is there no possibility to talk about this? Can you write the question down and discuss it with your manager when you already have another meeting?  Oh.. it is urgent? Maybe you should use the phone instead?
  2. Keep it short!
    Long emails are met with migraine, and is easily sorted in the: “follow up later category”
    It should take no more than a minute to read and decide. Any longer, it might get sorted out.
  3. Get to the point!
    In combination with number 2. I have read long emails without understanding what the sender really wanted. Give your points first, and explain afterwards if you have to.
  4. Define the action
    In the first line: I need approval – You should consider – Call back to – Remember to book meetings with, Do you have the time for a meeting.
  5. Do you really need your boss on CC and BCC on all of your mails? Come on…
  6. Can anyone else solve your problem?
  7. If you need no response, write it down, use FYI in the subject field.
  8. Ask your boss for preferences.
    People are different, companies are different, your boss might have a total different view on email, some prefer to use email in all communication while others hate email and might even refuse to use it. So if you are a leader, instruct the people about your email preferences.

So consider this first: Is email the right channel for communication? Is the phone, online chat or should you knock on the door? Or discuss it in an upcoming meeting? Or is this more suitable to address during lunch?

And one important point at the end.
Do not skip a step on the corporate ladder. I think you should have a darn good reason to write an email to your boss’s boss. Imagine you addressing a problem, that your boss is unaware off; it can put your manager in a bad spot. I believe that as a team we should all support each other, including your boss. If you have trouble with your boss, I would rather address this to the HR-manager first.

Are you a leader? I would love to hear about your solutions or trouble with email, and how you solved it? Please share in the comment field.

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