In this era of ever-changing technology, remote access and increased client demands, communicating efficiently and effectively with your staff through email is important in order to remain on top of workflow and deadlines.
In fact, according to a recent survey of expert tax professionals and accountants from the Intuit® ProConnect™ Group, a resounding 79 percent of respondents viewed email as their preferred method of communication with their staff. While email may be the preferred vehicle of choice, many firms employ poor strategies and techniques when emailing, causing team distractions, lack of performance and, ultimately, dissatisfied staff and clients.
What can you do to ensure your staff responds promptly to emails and gets the job done? Here are some techniques you as tax professionals can use in your emails to illicit responses from staff.
Think like the interpreter. When constructing emails, we often don’t think about how our emails will be perceived. That’s because we are often wrapped up in getting all the information out there, and sometimes press “send” too quickly.
After writing an email, take a step back and read through what you wrote. Ask yourself some a basic question: how would my staff, or this staff person, react to my email? The answer likely comes down to your relationship with that person or group of people. That will dictate the tone of the email and the style you choose, as well as the reaction and how likely your staff will be to do what you ask and complete their tasks.
But, in general, it’s always good to use a friendly greeting, such as, “Hi, hope all is well.”
Ways to communicate. As millennials and generation Z continue to make an impact on our firms and represent the future, we must find ways to meet their needs and desires. That means we must cater to their lifestyles.
For email purposes, that means providing them a positive work environment that makes them want to be there and grow. Give them remote access, but also use communication methods they’re used to, such as texting and instant messaging. In fact, according to the same survey, more accountants age 18-44 use instant messaging than other forms of communication. So, as these mailboxes are likely oversaturated, we must find creative ways to reach this audience; better yet, ask your staff members what they want to use. This is a great way to get vital input and make the team feel like they are part of the solution.
Congratulatory emails. Showing you employees you truly care by congratulating them on their work goes a long way, especially for the younger generations who desire positive feedback and validation for the hard work they put in. A simple email congratulations and praise on your part helps fuel their desire to work for you and grow.
Also, make sure your email goes out very quickly after the project or work was completed. An email too long after the fact will have less effect and perhaps imply that you weren’t quite as excited as your email otherwise says.
Here are some examples of congratulation emails.
Bottom line up front. Have you heard of the term, bottom line up front (BLUF)?
Between our busy work and personal lives, and the inundation of emails hitting our filters, the frequency of items to review can be exasperating. To reach your audience, you must capture their attention right away.
Practice BLUF, putting the most important information at the beginning of the email. Be clear and concise. Remember, you can always hash out the little details and other miscellaneous information later on by phone or in person. After all, no one wants to read through a bunch of type.
Build your staff relationships. This one is a must. Too often, we are so consumed by our jobs and duties that we forget to cultivate relationships with those we communicate with. If you truly work on getting to know your staff and show them empathy and care, they’ll be much more willing to respond to your emails and work as a team.
Find out their passions, what they value and what they want out of their work. Be open to their suggestions and preferences, and greet them with a smile. When the communication floodgates open, that’s the time your firm will find success and your clients will be satisfied.
Editor’s note: For more tips on engaging effectively with your staff, read the Intuit® ProConnect™ Tax Pro Center article “6 Ways to Keep Top Performers Engaged in the Workplace.”