Email Pile-On

If you have worked in a fairly large-sized company in the last 10 year - I'm guessing you've experienced the "Email Pile-on" - but perhaps never known it as such ... It is something that does irritate me, and is a good way for me to think less of you (if I don't know you yet).

An "email pile-on" (a phrase I've totally made up) is when someone sends out a mass email to people (particularly in a business setting - but it doesn't have to be), usually to announce positive news of some kind ... A completed project, a promotion, a big sale, etc ... This mass email I have no problem with ... What I have issue with are the people who feel obligated to "REPLY TO ALL" with something to the form of ... "Great job team!" ... or ... "Congrats - huge win."

The action of replying to the email is not something I have an issue with either... It is the DELIBERATE inclusion of everyone on this 3 word email that bugs me.

First of all - When one person does this - it's like saying to other email pile-on-ers "I care more than you do," which instigates and is clearly the core of the actual PILE-ON ...
Secondly - the action SCREAMS of the need to feel important ... like ... "I approve of this email - and just wanted everyone to know that my approval is important."

Managers often feel like public acknowledgement is something that people crave - and I actually think this is kind of messed up. For me, personally, I'd much rather get a personal email or call from my boss (or better - my bosses boss) saying "Hey - you did a great job with XYZ." For me - it would go a lot further than pressing "Reply to All."

While I definitely understand that the act of pressing "delete" takes less than 1 second - so it shouldn't truly bother me - for me - it's less about the deleting the email and more about what would drive people to see the GOOD in the "email pile-on"...

There are plenty of email correspondence instances that are GREAT "reply to all" cases ... I don't mean to discourage this... and ... Un-intentional "Reply to all" mistakes have happened to me, personally, so no bashing there either ... but that is not what I'm talking about with the "Email Pile-on" annoyance...

If you are an Email Pile-on-er ... Think twice the next time you reply-to-all. Not only is an aggregate waste of time (If the email takes an average of 30 seconds to read - and 100 people read it -- that is almost an hour of aggregated wasted company time) ... but ... It doesn't reflect as positive on you as you may think (in my opinion). ;)

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