Let’s call it what it is – an interruption. In a corporate setting, sending announcements and other general communications to large groups via email adds to the load of email traffic flying around in thick torrents every day, especially for mid-level managers.
When these are sent, the goal is to get the email with this news or “action item” into a queue along with one-to-one (and one-to-few) emails in the manager’s inbox, and vie for her/his attention. Most managers reluctantly allow this distraction and check their email several to many times per day, because they also need to engage in team email conversations and requests via email, amidst the general info blasts that they may or may not read.
Our once-a-week roll-up of action items, need-to-know items, etc. replaces a constant barrage of single-item emailed memos.
Here at Providence, a 5-state health care system, we’re beginning to train core leaders to rely on a once-a week roll-up of key information, an emailed update with short summaries that include links to the full announcement and other informational resources. They know they can get all news and action items from the regional and system offices in a single weekly newsletter, with notices divided into three sections: “Take Action!” (when they have to do something), “Need to Know,” and “Other Updates.”
That’s how it works today. The wave of the future: Have managers and staff take responsibility for selecting non-interruptive channels (RSS feeds, for instance) to receive segmented-by-category information. Instead of randomly arriving as interruptive email, information is accumulated in folders (not in the inbox) or via a browser