Learning Thursday is a blog series that features a new L&D article every other week along with discussion points. Read and then share your own ideas by commenting below! Check out the last Learning Thursday here.
Although learning professionals wear multiple hats, we hardly ever work in a vacuum. When we develop a course for instance, there is often a subject matter expert, multiple instructional designers or developers, a technical editor, and others providing oversight or input into the final product.
Sometimes the hardest part of our job is not the actual instructional design process. It’s coordinating with everyone involved in a project so everything is completed on time. Here are five ways you can use your email application to better coordinate projects and team activities.
- Create a shared out of office calendar. (Here are instructions to create a calendar in Outlook.) Make sure your team members use the calendar to indicate their scheduled time off and any dates they plan to work in another location. This calendar allows the team to plan deadlines, upcoming meetings, and coverage of tasks. The CIO at one of my former employers implemented this calendar and personally made sure everyone in management participated. It was great for productivity and also helped us find opportunities to meet each other in person while traveling between offices.
- Create a calendar or repository that lists upcoming meetings across your organization’s locations. Some organizations use an event management system to track and coordinate meetings across teams so expenses and resources can be shared.
- Require all team members to set an auto-reply message when they are out of office. Ask that all team members include at least one alternative contact in their auto-reply so that issues can be addressed while they’re out of office. When I managed multiple sub-teams, my auto-reply contained four names and email addresses/distribution lists and an explanation of what each contact could handle. Here’s an example:
Thank you for your message. I will be out of office until <date> with limited access to email. If this is an urgent matter, please contact:
- <My director’s email address> for matters requiring management approval
- <Trainer team’s distribution list> for questions related to new hire orientation, classes, and one-on-one coaching
- <Instructional design team’s distribution list> for assistance with project intake and updates to documentation
- <eLearning development team’s distribution list> for assistance with the LMS or e-learning courses
- Manage your team’s email volume. Here’s another wonderful idea from my former CIO: Outlaw Reply All. Some teams have a real issue with email volume, especially if team members are remote and coordinating projects through email. Having a full inbox makes it hard to find the information you need, and every time a team member receives an email that doesn’t relate to them, they’ve lost a few seconds of productivity. Set a cultural expectation that emails should only go to the people who will benefit from the communication.
- Create targeted distribution lists for your team. If you have multiple sub-teams within your training team, consider creating a distribution list for each sub-team so it’s easier to route emails to the appropriate people, making the entire team more productive. Advertise the new distribution lists so people outside your team know which team handles what tasks.
How do you use your email application to help your team’s productivity? Please share your ideas in the comments section.