Project teams have a lot on their plate at any given time, and it can be hard to remember it all, even with the assistance of Gantt charts and project management software. That’s why automated email notifications were created, to shift the burden of reminding people off you, the project manager, and onto a more punctual (and less shy) project management tool.
But automated email notifications still require your input. You still set the frequency, content, and trigger events for each email that goes into you team’s inbox. And, like any activity that involves people, there are ways of doing it wrong.
1) Sending too many
People (yourself included, I’ll bet) already have a hard time dealing with their email inbox. And while the automated email notifications are valuable, receiving too many at a time becomes inconvenient and even annoying.
Email notifications are supposed to be a help, not a hindrance. So if deleting project notifications is actually hindering you from doing the work you’re being notified about, then maybe you should reduce the frequency of your automated messages.
2) Include the wrong people
Speaking for myself, I really hate emails that are marked “FYI”. If I wanted to know about it, I’d have asked to be kept in the loop in the first place.
Do your team a favor and trim your distribution list. Protect them from having to delete emails that don’t involve them, otherwise they may end up filtering out the automated email notifications entirely.
3) Send irrelevant information
The email notification system is a powerful tool. It’s convenient, reliable, and easy to apply. So you need to learn how to use it responsibly. Notifying people about an upcoming deadline? Responsible. Notifying people that you changed a task’s name? Not responsible.
Do you remember the boy who cried wolf? Imagine that an email notification is the boy. And when he keeps sending trivial updates, people ignore him.
Make sure your automated updates contain information important to them. People are stopping work to read those updates, so it better be worth their time.
4) Ignore your users’ feedback
Let’s say you do one of the above mistakes—or all of them. Your team is complaining about the size of their inbox, and about how many emails they have to delete in a day. What do you do? Ignore them and say “that’s our process, so get used to it?”
That’s sure to get your notifications blocked. Remember, this system is supposed to help your team. A good leader responds to their team’s input and finds a suitable compromise.
Email notifications are tricky to use. They have to be useful, timely updates, while not being annoyingly frequent. If you do strike the right balance, then you have an automated, proactive tool that can help keep your team focused and punctual.
Image credit, Flickr, Pascual Lopez