Email etiquette for New Managers

In this blog, I will share few email etiquette for first time managers that must be followed for quicker response.

Srihari Udugani
7 min readJan 17, 2024
Photo by Brett Jordan on Unsplash

Those who have moved into management role recently, ignore the email etiquette. Due to this, there will be long discussions or no response for the requests or decision made through email.

The delay in response to an email results in longer decision cycle and in-turn frustration of not progressing, which further leads to unnecessary pressure.

Many of the first time managers, write an email as if it is an essay with lot of information. The questions are embedded so deep in the content, that the reader cannot understand what to respond or provides an incorrect response.

Email communication is used to reduce the number of meetings and also to collaborate with remote teams. So it becomes at-most important to learn how to write an email that will get the required responses quickly and removes the need for meetings as much as possible.

In this blog, I will share the mistakes to avoid and few tips to write emails for better results.

The situation

New managers move into management role from an individual contributor role. While being in individual contributor role, the email communication will be limited.

The email communication will be mostly used to send leave of absence request or for office supplies request and in rare cases email will be used to respond to technical queries.

But in management role, email becomes an important tool for collaboration. So, without knowing email etiquette, new managers struggle to collaborate with higher management or peer managers where the mode of communication is email.

Below are few common mistakes that new managers make. These mistakes should be avoided in any situation.

Mistake#1: Long emails
The email will run through several pages with all the screenshots, tables and big paragraphs explaining lot of things. This kind of email does not help to get the right answers.

Mistake#2: The questions are embedded
The email will have so many paragraphs and each paragraph may have a question. Unless someone reads the email very carefully, they will not understand what responses should be provided.

Mistake#3: Unorganised email content
The content of the email will have no start and end. It starts off with something and then moves to some other topic and goes somewhere else. There will be no proper sequence.

Mistakes#4: Not addressing the email to anyone
Some new managers, just put all of members in To list of email and the content does not point out who should respond. The people in To list will not know, to whom the email is addressed and who should respond?

The solution

The above common mistakes occur because the new managers are not trained while transitioning to management role.

The organisation assume that everybody knows how to write emails. But it is not true.

So here are my tips to write an email which will get the required responses quickly and in-turn reduces delays which further reduces overheads of meetings.

Note, that these tips can be used for technical or non-technical emails.

Tip#1: Use directed subject line
Instead of writing big subject line which nobody understands, use a short directed subject line that tells the reader about the email.

Many of the stakeholders read emails in mobile. So, if the subject line is too long, then they can’t read it and stakeholders might just ignore the email.

Here are few example subject lines that are direct and short.
▪ Requesting approval for …
▪ Update on project X progress as on Dec-2023
▪ [Customer X] Progress updates and Risks
▪ [Project X] Risks and action items as on Dec-2023

The above examples clearly indicates what the email is about and what action needed if any.

Tip#2: Use sections to organise the content
If you have to write long emails because of the nature of the situation, then use sections to organise the content for better readability.

Or the other option is to write the summary at the top of the long email and say the details are below. The person who is reading can then choose to read the details if needed, otherwise will respond based on the details in summary section.

Another good thing to do is to have a section named Action Items or Response needed or Decisions or Approvals needed etc. These section will provide information on what action or response is needed and from whom.

By organising information in email helps the reader to understand the information better and gets you the required response quicker.

Here are few example sections that can be used in an email
▪ Discussion Summary
▪ Background or context
▪ Decisions
▪ Action items
▪ Next steps
▪ Dependencies

For each of these sections, if you can breakdown the information in the form of bullet points, then even though the email is long, there will be a clear way to read it and understand the content.

Tip#3: Use To, Cc properly
In any email application, there will be options to put email addresses in To and Cc. These should be used wisely, so that the readers know whether they have to take any action or it is just for information.

In general, the readers who should take an action or provide a response should be in To and all those recipients who should be aware of the discussion should be in Cc.

If there are multiple readers in To then mention their name or email at the section or block of content which is relevant for them.

In this way, the recipients will exactly know what to do with that email. This will help again for getting faster responses.

Tip#4: Use proofreading before sending the email
Many young managers don’t read emails after drafting it. It is a good practice to read the email before sending it.

Sometime when we are typing, our mind thinks faster than our typing speed. Hence there are chances we would have missed few words in the sentences. So, proofreading will help to identify and correct such things.

Another reason is when you read it again, you might find that the sentences are not formed correctly to convey the right message. So, correcting the sentences to convey the right message will help again to get the responses correctly.

If there are bullet points, then reading those points might help you identify whether the points are making sense, whether there are duplicates in the points. These again will help to convey the right message.

The proofreading habit will help to identify any mistakes that are present in the email. By correcting the mistakes before sending will avoid back-and-forth communication and reduces delays in getting responses.

Tip#5: Use smaller sentences as much as possible
Many get confused that, the way we talk to convey message during a in-person or call based discussion, is the same way the email also should be written. This is not true.

The attention span of a person to listen to a person and the attention span of the same person while reading will be different. So, if a conversation happens via a call and you elaborate a little bit more, then it is okay, but if you try to do the same in email, the information will be lost.

So, use smaller sentences and have smaller paragraphs for simplifying the information, so that the reader would understand.

Tip#6: Use attachments for artefacts
If you need to send several screenshots or create large tables or many screen shots, then don’t do it in an email body. It is not a good practice.

The best thing is to attach the artefacts to the email and refer it in the email body. This will simplify the whole email.

If you feel that attaching and referring it in the email body will create confusion, then better to use an online document which has all the information. A summary of it can be put in the email body and for more details the link to the online document can be provided.

By using attachments or online documentation will help to simplify your email and also the information can be organised correctly to convey the message.

Tip#7: Use simple language
I have seen few of them put lot of words in the email which are not commonly used. This will beat the whole purpose of the email.

The reason for using email is to avoid meetings and to collaborate offline. So, using uncommonly used words shows that you have a great knowledge of language but may not help to convey the required message.

Emails is not to show your language skills. It should be used to collaborate and get the required response quickly.

So avoid using complex words, rather use simple language in emails.

Final thoughts

Email is an important tool for communication and collaborating with various stakeholders.

Using email in the right way will help managers to get the required decisions or responses faster and in-turn avoid any slowness in the progress.

The above 7-tips will help you to structure the content appropriately with all the required information for the reader to respond with the requested information.

So by learning email etiquette during the transition from individual contributor role to management will make the process of email communication easy and efficient.

Happy management!

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Further reading



Srihari Udugani

Knowledge Made Simple and Structured, Decisions Made Clear. Happy success!