Few statements in the business world elicit more gritting of teeth than…

 

“Can you email that to me again?”

 

You emailed a report/document/image/whatever to one or more people. It never fails that, days or weeks later, you are resending the same attachment to the same person…again.

 

After the third resend, you contemplate subtle acts of sabotage against your colleagues and all who hold them dear.

 

Vengeance aside, we cannot force others to behave in accordance with our wishes.

 

People will do what they will do.

Why do these resend requests happen?

 

  • Email is a terrible document management tool. Attachments get lost among thousands of pieces of correspondence.
  • Many shared filing systems are a morass of confusing folders and subfolders. Saying, “It’s on the shared drive!” can be akin to saying “Well, I threw it into Lake Ontario! Grab your scuba gear!”
  • Good records management dictates that the creator of a document is the owner of the document. Technically, recipients aren’t supposed to keep duplicates.
  • Some people are disorganized. No matter how hard you try to make something available, there are folks who will still ask every time.
  • It’s partly my fault. I coach my clients to purge most of the emails and documents they receive. I warn them against keeping stuff simply because they “might need it someday.”

 

 

What can you do to reduce the resend requests?

 

Sending one email one time is not enough.  Your obligations don’t end when you click send.  Hey, that rhymes…

 

It is incumbent upon you, as the document originator, to ensure that the recipients can easily access a document in the future.

Here are some suggestions:

 

  • Purge and reorganize shared network drives into a non-cluttered, easy-to-navigate file structure. If your team needs help with this project, contact me for assistance. I have helped lots of teams improve their electronic document collaboration.
  • Come up with shared naming conventions for files so that everyone “speaks” the same language. Here are some tips on how to name your electronic files.
  • Email links to documents on shared drives instead of attachments. In Outlook, click Insert ~ Hyperlink instead of the paperclip button. This helps with version control.
  • Understand your records management obligations. Educate your team. This knowledge may encourage appropriate document sharing and management.
  • Be patient with your colleagues. You don’t have time to sort, organize, and maintain every document produced by every member of your team. They don’t either.

 

Early in my career, I worked in a corporate human resources department. We launched an intranet page that allowed employees to access needed HR forms in PDF format. This was pretty cutting-edge in the mid ‘90s. In that era, most HR transactions were done by phone, pen, and paper.

 

What I learned was that making the documents available for self-service was only the start. Getting employees to go to the intranet before they picked up the phone required patience and persistence.

 

I wish that there had been Outlook Quick Parts at the time. If I replied to an email with “This is available on the new HR intranet…blah, blah, blah” once then I typed it 1,000 times.

 

There was a years-long culture change that had to happen.

 

Over time, the “Will you send me the name change form?” emails turned into: “Hey, when are you going to put that form on the intranet?”

 

Willingness to self-serve happened…albeit slowly.

 

I think that there will always be some degree of, “Will you resend that to me?”

 

Just think of it as job security.

 

 






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Dr. Melissa Gratias, MBG Organizing SolutionsDr. Melissa Gratias (pronounced "Gracious") is a work psychologist who helps overwhelmed and underappreciated businesspeople be more focused and effective. Since 2007, thousands of people have graduated with honors from her onsite sessions, distance coaching, productivity seminars, and corporate consulting projects. Based in Savannah, Georgia, Melissa is available for nationwide consulting and speaking engagements. Contact her via email at [email protected] or call 912-417-2505. Sign up for her free monthly e-newsletter or visit her website, melissagratias.com.

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