Facility Manager Do's and Don'ts for Email Communication

  March 20, 2012

Today's tip from Building Operating Management: To avoid communication glitches, facility managers should keep some basic do's and don'ts in mind when sending out emails.

For some, it's hard to imagine life before e-mail. But as ubiquitous a tool as it is, it still has its limitations. Richard Christiano, assistant professor in the facilities planning and management program at Wentworth Institute of Technology, says he prefers to think of it as a tool for clarification, to open up a dialogue or to provide a time stamp for a decision. When you have a discussion with someone about a change or process, use an e-mail afterwards to lock in the details. "Go through and reiterate what it is so that there's no confusion whatsoever," he says. "So when it's two months later and you're actually doing it the individual doesn't say, 'You never told me you were going to tear these walls down or move this office over there.'"

Facility managers should also be careful not to needlessly add to the information overload by abusing e-mail or sending out sloppy messages. He would tell his facilities team, "When you send this out, I don't want people focusing on some grammatical mistake or confusion in the message," he says. "I wanted to make sure it was crystal clear." Whenever anything written was being sent out, whether it was to another department or to the whole company, it would first be proofread and commented on by another facility management team member.

Facility managers should also be sensitive to memos attached to emails. In a place he used to work, Christiano says one of the facility team members used to sign his name to the memos. Whether he was trying to take credit consciously or subconsciously was not clear, but the detrimental effect to the department's standing was clear.

"If it's a team, it has to go out as a team memo," he says. "In most cases, the best way to help develop team work is to communicate as a unit."

This has been a Building Operating Management Tip of the Day. Thanks for listening.


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