Just in time for the Labor Day holiday in the United States, Clive Thompson dives into the thing that will ruin the holiday for so many:
Why would less email mean better productivity? Because, as Ms. Deal found in her research, endless email is an enabler. It often masks terrible management practices.
When employees shoot out a fusillade of miniature questions via email, or “cc” every team member about each niggling little decision, it’s because they don’t feel confident to make a decision on their own. Often, Ms. Deal found, they’re worried about getting in trouble or downsized if they mess up.
This seems exactly right. I’d venture to guess that most email that is sent in the work environment doesn’t need to be sent. But it is as a way to cover one’s own ass.
In my experience, this goes beyond email. This happens on a daily basis and in all form of office communications (IMs, meetings, etc.). Some employees have a bad habit of including everyone or someone who has authority on the loop to sidestep blame or to at least “reduce” the blame on them. They think they are off the hook by asking someone’s approval before making the decision. By doing so, they can say, “hey, didn’t I asked you about this?”