How do you prevent “attachment disorder”?
A VP sent me an email requesting copies of some contract paperwork and copied three other people with access to the information. Each of us sent her the 3MB file, and now she’s irritated because our responses clogged her inbox. If you’re copied on an email, do you wait to see whether you should jump in? Do you set off a flurry of emails to other recipients to determine who’ll answer? What’s your protocol?
— Kendra, Events Coordinator
Put some order in the emails
Kendra, multiple people responding to an email doesn’t only irritate the recipient, it can jam his or her mailbox, as you’ve already discovered. To keep this from happening again, establish a system for handling emails with cc’s.
Our readers offer some pointers:
- First come, first serve.
- Use a network.
- Try several options to find the best solution.
First come, first serve
Rather than having several email recipients scratching their heads over who’s supposed to answer a message, set a simple ground rule.
Cathi Hoskins, corporate events coordinator at ChemStation International Inc. believes in first in, first out.
“Whoever responds to an email where several people are copied should hit ‘reply all.’ That way, everyone can see who answered first. Problem solved!”
Use a network
Instead of sending out emails with huge attachments, use an alternative way to convey the information.
Debbie Matuszak, marketing and event planner with Chamberlain, describes the method her company has in place.
“We have a shared file set up for our internal sales/marketing staff and outside field sales, and any large documents or photos can be put in it. If a document is confidential, add a password to it or restrict access to certain folders on the shared drive. Instead of sending a large file, just send the link to it.”
Elizabeth Houck, account executive at Freeman, suggests you take the lead in setting up a system.
“Show the boss how organized you are and create a shared drive folder on the network. Attach all the information you feel he or she may need, organized in folders. Then simply send the link. (This can be done with Dropbox as well.)
“Discuss this process with your co-workers and get them on the same page. I use it with a number of colleagues, and we don’t need to make nearly as many requests back and forth to each other.”
Try several options to find the best solution
Although it may not seem like it now, you have a number of alternatives to consider.
E. Jane Lorimer, managing director of Lorimer Consulting Group, provides several choices for you.
“Options: 1. Call or email to ask the VP whom she’s asking to send the file (i.e., one of you or all four). 2. Send an email response to all saying, ‘I’ll forward to you under separate email’ to let others know you’re handling it. If one of the others has sent it, he or she will advise you. 3. Do something ‘old fashioned.’ Pick up the phone and call the other people copied to determine who will send the file!”
Terrie Holahan offers some other possibilities.
“If I’m cc’d on a message, I usually wait to see if the main addressee responds, and I jump in only if I know the addressee can’t make the deadline (the person is on vacation, traveling, etc.). I also send a separate message to the addressee, adding ‘DONE’ or ‘TAKEN CARE OF’ in the subject line before the original subject.
“With large files, try a service like YouSendIt that allows you to upload files to a secure, remote server. Then send the link to the person making the request. It takes a few extra steps on the recipient’s part to retrieve the files, but it’s a nice alternative.
“Or, if the VP tends to copy the same people on requests like this, huddle up with them and work out a strategy beforehand. While we live in the day and age of text messages and email, sometimes a quick phone call keeps the inbox from being bombarded.”