Email facilitates the day-to-day commerce of an organization. It is used for this purpose in nearly every organization. Since people receive so much email (50 to 100 emails per day is common), you need to be selective. Choose your moments.
The leadership message, as always, must be rooted in the values of the organization and must be of significance to the recipient. It must be designed to further a sense of trust. Therefore, keep the messages consistent with your culture and your values. When Jack Welch used email to keep in touch with employees, it was an outgrowth of his habit of sending written personal notes.
Here are some examples of effective leadership emails and their purposes:
Furthering the vision
Our vision challenges us to undertake some exciting new opportunities. We can be the organization we all want to be. Let me tell you how . . .
Amplifying the mission
I want to tell you how much I appreciate the work you have been doing for us. I know that you have been sacrificing personal time for this project, and I want you to know that your effort has not gone unnoticed.
You are working very hard for us. People are always telling me what a hard worker you are. I want to give you some advice about how you can become better. First, . . .
Brevity is the better part of valor with e-leadership messages. No one has time to read a lengthy message, and if the message is too long, people probably will not read it at all.
Be careful when you send. Check that you have clicked the correct recipient. Do not copy people on e-coaching sessions. To do so may be a violation of trust between you and the employee.
Carol Hymowitz and Matt Murray, "Management-Boss Talk: Raises and Praises or Out the Door," Wall Street Journal, June 21, 1999.