E-Mail: A Write It Well Guide : How to Write and Manage E-Mail in the Workplace

By Janis Fisher Chan | Go to book overview
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5
CAUTIONARY TALES

One in five respondents (20%) has had employee e-mail and instant messages (IM) subpoenaed in the course of a lawsuit or regulatory investigation…. Another 13% have battled workplace lawsuits triggered by employee e-mail.

AMERICAN MANAGEMENT ASSOCIATION AND EPOLICY INSTITUTE
2004 WORKPLACE E-MAIL AND INSTANT MESSAGING SURVEY

In 2001, Neal Patterson, the chief executive of the Cerner Corporation in Kansas City, Missouri, sent 400 managers an angry e-mail, berating them for not getting more than 40 hours of work a week out of their employees: “The parking lot is sparsely used at 8 a.m.; likewise at 5 p.m. As managers -- you either do not know what your EMPLOYEES are doing; or you do not CARE… you have a problem and you will fix it or I will replace you…. NEVER in my career have I allowed a team which worked for me to think they had a 40-hour job.” After the contents of the e-mail were posted on a Yahoo message board, Cerner stock declined 22 percent.

FROM “STINGING OFFICE MEMO BOOMERANGS”
EDWARD WONG, THE NEW YORK TIMES, APRIL 5, 2001

E-mail is risky business indeed. Angry messages sent in the heat of the moment can damage relationships with colleagues and clients. Rude, abrupt messages lead to misunderstandings that can have serious consequences. Every week we hear about how the wrong e-mail sent to the wrong person (or people) has gotten an individual or an organization in trouble.

It's a fact that misuse of e-mail can harm you professionally and cost your organization in terms of money and reputation. That's what this chapter is about: the bad things that can happen when we neglect to consider e-mail's potential for causing damage.

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