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The organisational culture of not reading work emails

There is an appalling email culture where Senior Managers refuse to read emails because they claim they are too busy. Senior Managers, usually Heads of departments and Directors, seem to believe that not reading emails is evidence that they are busy and need to prioritise their time. Could this be laziness talking, or are they really this busy that they can't pick up emails?

When you open the diary of a Senior Manager on Outlook and the first thing you see is that 99% of their calendar is filled with meetings, does this mean they are too busy? The answer is no, but It might be a sign that they are too involved, micromanage and don't know how to manage their time.


Some of these managers tell you, to pick the phone up and call them or text them. Others say you should approach them in person or set a meeting up, because they don't respond to emails. So why spend money on an email communication system?


In a previous article we spoke about poor email etiquettes, one of which is back and forth emails, or what some call death by a thousand emails. No one wants to sustain a conversation through back and forth emails. So what is the best use of emails? Here are four effective ways to use work emails:


  1. To create awareness among multiple stakeholders: If you want to create awareness or provide a quick update to multiple stakeholders at the same time, then a simple email would suffice. If these stakeholders have any further queries they could call you, request a meeting or respond to your email asking for more info.

  2. To make a quick enquiry that will require a simple non-complicated response: Don't ask questions you know will require a lengthy conversation rather than a simple response. If you have to ask such a question, then follow it up with an offer to discuss your enquiry over a meeting.

  3. Be socially and environmentally conscious: If a simple email will save you driving two hours to work then send it. As a manager, you should know what issues can be addressed over email and issues that need to be resolved in person or via a remote meeting.

  4. Use emails to create an evidence trail: Trust me, he said she said will get you no where. If you have an issue or have come to an agreement in a meeting, then make sure there is an email trail documenting this. You will find that some managers try to intimidate their employees through face to face meetings because they can deny saying anything wrong to them. Unfortunately, there is nothing you can do about this, other than file a bullying and harassment complaint. People in general are cautious about what they send in emails because it can be used as evidence against them. You raising an issue via email first, is always the best course of action before meeting in person. At least you have an email trail showing you raised an issue. If there isn't an email trail from the recipient showing they made an effort to resolve things, then doubt would always be on their side of the story.

When you open the diary of a Senior Manager on Outlook and the first thing you see is that 99% of their calendar is filled with meetings, does this mean they are too busy? The answer is no, but It might be a sign that they are too involved, micromanage and don't know how to manage their time.

There are so many benefits of reading your emails and responding to them. What you should not do is intentionally ignore an email. It is immature, childish and frankly shows you lack any form of manners or decorum.


Prioritise your time. You don't have to attend every meeting, you can always delegate to others. If you have no one to delegate to, then you simply cannot attend the meeting because you are busy. Make sure your calendar shows you are unavailable rather than leaving the space blank for people to put meetings in.


Technically speaking, if your calendar is 60 - 100% utilised then you are doing something wrong. Because that means you only have 40% capacity to actually deliver anything. A good balance would be 40% maximum for meetings. The other 60% allows you time to deliver and do your job.


There are so many benefits of reading your emails and responding to them. What you should not do is intentionally ignore an email. It is immature, childish and frankly shows you lack any form of manners or decorum.

In a summary, do not use a calendar filled with meetings as an excuse not to read or respond to your emails. It is just a bad management culture.


👉 Read six email etiquette's to practice in the workplace

Technically speaking, if your calendar is 60 - 100% utilised then you are doing something wrong. Because that means you only have 40% capacity to actually deliver anything. A good balance would be 40% maximum for meetings. The other 60% allows you time to deliver and do your job.

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