IPMA International Project Management Association
24 July 2020 / 9:39

The email reply, that matters

“It is a pleasure to communicate with you, Mr Demcak”. That was a reply to email communication between me and my “project” client, which forced me to think. What reaction do I expect when sending an email?

“Thank you very much for your prompt reply.” “Thank you for sending me the file in advance, it eased my job a lot.” “Thank you for always being on time.” “How often do you receive such a reply to your email?”

And, what about the replies such as: “What is the status of the project?” “Is everything all right?” “What is the progress fo the action x,y,z…?” “How often do you receive such a reaction to your job?”

In my case, I would say it happens so, so. As all consultants like to say: It depends. And, yes, it depends. It highly depends on me.

Recently I was asked whether I do a self-reflection. I realized that I do it quite often. Sometimes in a structured way by using a radar chart. However, mostly in a spontaneous way by reflecting on the situation that has happened at an unexpected moment.

In the past, my self-reflection looked like: how good am I in teamwork, leadership, risk analyses, presenting? Where are my strengths, and what do I need to improve? Honestly, it gave me a rough picture of me but nothing very tangible, nothing to build on.

And then, a single reply to my email: It is a pleasure to communicate with you, Mr Demcak. It made me feel outstanding about myself. Good job Marek, what else should you expect J

The thing is, what do I expect as a reply when writing a work-related email? Or instead, what does the receiver of the email expect from me? You are right; it smells like stakeholder analyses. A little bit 🙂

When receiving a request about the status of the project, I know I did something wrong (I did not communicate enough and at the right time). When receiving gratitude for doing something good, I know I did something right (I probably overcome my partner expectations). I want to feel that I am doing the right things. What about you?

It is not as much related to email communication as it is to self-reflection. What do I need to improve?

I focused on very conceptual skills in the past. I was reading about different leadership styles, about sophisticated analyses, methods, and tools. I did it to be a professional in managing projects. In the end, I see it does not matter so much. What matters is communication with others. People will create a picture of what kind of professionals we are, based on the way we communicate with them.

So please don’t make the same mistake as I did, don’t focus so much on complicated things when doing a self-reflection. Focus on very basics of your profession, on daily activities, and try to be the best you can in performing them.

Stay curious, my friends.

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Author of this post

Marek works as a LEAN focused Coach at Vaillant Group. His primary responsibility is to design systems to drive and to navigate cultural change towards a culture of continuous improvement. Marek develops his coaching practices in the industrial plants of the Vaillant Group in Slovakia and England.

Besides his love for cultural transformation and process improvement, he is very enthusiastic about project management. Marek founded and developed IPMA Young Crew in Slovakia. As the Management Board Member, he co-developed IPMA Slovakia by taking care of Marketing and Communication. In between 2019 and 2021, he was also the Management Board Member of Young Crew Global, responsible for the Global Young Crew Workshop and Coaches and Mentors program.

Marek has several hobbies. One of them is writing. To develop this skill, Marek writes about Coaching, Culture, Behaviors, and Project Manager Practice.