Dialogue Classic: This manager didn’t read her emails for a year


In a strategy many managers would consider extreme, a marketing manager did not reply to emails for over a year

It is a well-known fact that many managers spend a large portion of their time replying to emails. Whether it’s their teams, upper management, clients or the random company newsletter – managers can easily be swarmed under the mail traffic. According to research emails can hinder productivity with as much as 20%. This was the exact problem Serena De Maio was facing in her everyday work life.

She did however come up with a simple solution to her email woes. She ignored the bulk of them unless they met the strict criteria she invented:

• The emails had to be addressed directly to her and no-one else, email chains need not apply!
• The subject line has to include the word “help” or request of action
• The email was coming directly from her manager/upper management

These three simple rules were the foundation of Serena’s strategy. She then informed her team that she would not be reading emails and that if they needed her they would simply have to speak to her in person. This gave her the opportunity to connect with her team and talk to them face to face.

One year on and twenty thousand unopened lonely emails later she is working at full swing and business has progressed. Serena has explained how this approach to work has helped her by connecting her to her team and given her the time to plan for future growth.

If you are tempted to try her methods, she shares her top tips:

• Define your rules and inform your team
• Propose to your team and let them join the test
• Reconnect with your team after a month for an update
• Review the test quarterly
• After a year, decide whether or not the email embargo is working for you