We all use email in our daily lives – but how many of us use it to score a promotion? Well, according to a new study, that’s just what we should all be doing.
Research published in the Harvard Business Review has found that people who use their email cleverly can climb the career ladder. It found that when people copied in their supervisors or line managers to emails, they could show off their recent work – or show up a colleague.
Professor David De Cremer, who led the study, said: “This finding suggests that when your coworkers copy your supervisor very often, they may be doing so strategically, as they consciously know what the effect will be on you”.
Professor Tom Jackson of Loughborough University explained men were more likely to do it than women: “Anecdotally from our research I would say that males are much more focused on doing this. Females might know how to do it but maybe stop short of actually doing it. Males have no shame – they just go ahead and do it.”
Here, we’ve summed up the best ways to use your email to get ahead at work.
1. CC your boss
This is essentially the adult version of telling your school teacher that you did the entire group project by yourself, while your co-workers did nothing. Yes, it will make your colleagues loathe you, but if you need a subtle way to shame them into doing their fair share, a simple CC can do wonders. It allows your boss to see the chain of emails, from how the work was delegated to who responded with what (and who didn’t respond at all). Use sparingly though – no one likes a tattle-tale.
2. Use your signature wisely
Don’t just stick your full name in your email signature and be done with it. Think of it as a mini portfolio. Add in your website, social media, work profile page – anything you have that people might click on to see your accomplishments. Career coach Corinne Mills also suggests adding a “strap-line” underneath a signature such as ‘nominated for regional sales manager’ or ‘new book out’. It might grate on our British hatred of self-promotion, but it could do wonders for your profile.
3. Email outside of non-work hours
No one wants to be sending emails (or replying) at 6am – but it does show commitment. The best way to do this is to schedule your messages (via a tool such as Boomerang) so that responses you’ve drafted at a respectable 5pm will go out later. It suggests you’re a work addict… even though by then you’ll be fast asleep in bed.
4. Send group emails about your successes
If you’re nominated for an award, or a business deal goes well, then make sure everyone knows. “Using your email as a bit of a PR touchpoint is a great idea,” says Mills. “You might think you can only grab their attention with something wrong, but when things go right drop them an email to say, just to let you know I’ve sorted it with that tricky customer. It can be big things like awards, or even smaller things.”
5. Keep them in the loop
Send your superiors regular updates while you’re working on a project, rather than just letting them know when it’s completed. “It gives the impression you’re really organised and on top of it,” says Mills. “Managers can get freaked out by not knowing. It suggests you’re really in control. But balance it so you don’t tell them every detail. It’s very reassuring.”
6. Follow up
“If you want to build up a relationship it’s hard to do on email, but use it as a teaser,” says Mills. She suggests writing an introduction email and then following it with a phone call. “Using it as an opener is helpful,” she explains. “It helps people know who you are, and there’ll be some name and job title recognition, but it doesn’t in itself build a relationship.”