Email Communication Etiquette for Product Managers

How should product managers use email?
How should product managers use email?
Image Credit: William Iven

Note: this post was written by Jackie

Being able to communicate with coworkers and clients face-to-face is the best way to get your message across, but it is also time consuming. When there is a lot to get done during the day, email communication is often the quickest, easiest and most cost-effective way of getting in contact. Email is a good way of communicating with your customers, but as a product manager you need to be clear and concise with what you need to say.

Be Professional At All Times

As a product manager, you are in charge of both a brand and an image. You are also responsible for the image of your company. With this career you are investing in yourself and your company, so your written correspondence needs to convey this. You may have colleagues, clients and employees that are friends, but work email is only for work discussions. Steer clear of forwarding jokes, chain emails, and anything that isn’t directly linked to your work and your management. It is a lot easier with email for things to be misconstrued if you are trying to inject a level of humor into your emails. Being courteous and professional is important at all times.

Product Designs and Plans

Project managers have a lot of information to communicate, and this needs to be done in a clear way. When you are dealing with product designs, it is always a good idea to have good mockups from the start, to show the clear vision right from the start. All dimensions and measurements need to be given in every email, so that there is never any error made regarding these. If you are emailing out a plan, give a firm brief, instructions and a timescale. With this information, you are far more likely to get things done in the way that you have envisioned.

Communicating Tasks

When you are giving instructions and communicating tasks to colleagues and employees, it is a good idea to number them in order of importance and present them in a list format, rather than in the main paragraph of an email. Make sure that each task is allocated to a specific person, or team. You should also give a deadline for every task, so that it is clear when you are expecting the work to be done by.

Formality of Emails

Unless your email contact tells you that you can address them by their first name, always use a high level of formality. Address your contact as Dear Mr. Jones, Dear Mrs. Smith etc. You should be able to judge from later communication whether you can be a little more relaxed. Use a standard black font in emails, such as Times New Roman, or Arial. Using Comic Sans or handwriting fonts are not very businesslike. Steer clear of any unusual formatting too, as this can be confusing.

What All Of This Means For You

Email is a very effective way for product managers to communicate. It is important when you are doing so that you are transparent with the information that you are giving and professional.

– Dr. Jim Anderson
Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World Product Management Skills™

Question For You: How much email is too much email for a product manager?

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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

Let’s face it, Amazon is a very big company that has done a lot of things correctly. We all know that we can visit their web site, pick out something that we want and almost magically it’s going to show up at our door in just a few days. All of this success has put some pressure on the Amazon product managers. They need to keep finding ways to allow the company to keep growing. As product managers we all know what this means – new products. Recently the Amazon product managers decided to expand their product development definition and introduced a new product that was yanked off the market after only a couple of days. What went wrong?