The Top 10 Bad Emails Being Sent At Your Company

Bad emails, we all get them.

Ironically, spam notwithstanding, most of the bad emails we get are from our own employees and peers.

After all these years, it seems that we still haven’t mastered email.

When Good Employees Send Bad Emails

Email is the bane of productivity in many companies.

It is often cited as a top time waster.

The irony is that those emails are being sent by your team.

Why do good employees send bad emails?

Emails aren’t bad by nature.

They are just written that way.

I think we have all seen a few of the following emails…

The Top 10 Bad Emails Being Sent at Your Company:

  1. The One to Everyone – The message that was meant for one person, but went to fifteen. Hint: Do not hit “Reply All” when you are thanking one person.
  2. The Broadcast  – Sometimes from the senior leadership, sometimes from human resources. This message is usually 4-5 paragraphs, when it could be two sentences. And could usually start with, “Don’t do…”
  3. The Paper Push – Email is the ultimate tool for the “it’s not my job” crowd. Email creates a strange dynamic for delegation. It seems to empower individuals to task anyone with anything. If it’s written (or in this case typed), it has to be official, right? I have seen entire companies turned upside down by reverse delegation.
  4. The Look Busy – If only there was an email filter for emails with no meaning. How many of your employees are sending emails just to “look” like they are working? The look busy email is intended to give the appearance of work when it usually just says, “Hey, I am working! Really.”
  5. The Typo Email – Ever get an email and think you are going to need a decoder wheel just to read it? If you can’t be bothered to review the message before hitting send, then I shouldn’t be bothered to read your typo riddled email.
  6. The Email Novel – Email is not for document writing. If your email is more than a paragraph then it is too long. (This is an area where Twitter wins over email.) Keep those messages short. Deliver your report as a separate document.
  7. The Flame Mail – People say things in email that they would never say to someone’s face. Hiding behind their keyboards, they throw incendiary emails at others. Not only is this practice hurtful to individuals and the business, but it is a symptom of much bigger personnel issues.
  8. The Signature Email – I got an email recently where the individual’s signature contained more information than the message. Silly quotes. Propaganda. Worthless disclaimers. And of course, the infamous “Sent from my Phone” line. Purge those signature lines.
  9. The Large Attachment – You know, the big email, the one with the 15-20MB file. Oh, and later tonight they are going to send it twice more after they make small changes. Large attachments belong in the cloud, not in your email. Thanks for not exploding our inboxes.
  10. The Email Virus – Why do your employees keep sending viruses? Because they continue to visit unsafe sites. Because they transfer files via unprotected media. And yes, because the IT department does not have the appropriate protections in place on the network.

And here is a bonus one…

  1. The One That Should Have Been BCC – There is only one time when it is appropriate to use BCC on an email. That is when you are sending to a large distribution (which should be rare in itself) and you do not want people responding to the team. I have seen a Fortune 15 company have to shut down their email servers because they messed this up and the entire company hit “Reply All.” Fun times.

Banish Those Bad Emails

Email doesn’t have to be bad.

Set expectations with your team. Train on good email etiquette.

Correct where necessary, and don’t tolerate email abuse.

You just might banish some of those bad emails.

And for that, we will all thank you.

Share Your Story: What bad emails have you seen at your company?

5 thoughts on “The Top 10 Bad Emails Being Sent At Your Company

  1. It saddens me that this is 1) 100% accurate, 2) needs to be explained again and again, but as usual, you are right on the money with all of these points. Thank you! 

  2. Even though you wrote it 3 years ago, it’s still so true Craig, I think that one of the worst emails I received was an automatic email attachment of one of of our company employees who scanned his pay-checks. It automatically sent his monthly salary and working hours to the entire company. I immediately deleted this email, but unfortunately, it didn’t help to prevent the embarrassment and the invasion of privacy of that poor colleague. So, eventually technology makes bad email too. I also wrote about how to send send files and use email and the cloud better to communicate about files. Would love for your feedback:

  3. Another bad habit: those “by the way what about this as well” responses which turn one email into a whole different topic and no-one ever bothers to change the header.

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