Don't send an email to a group asking them to do something

I am constantly amazed how often I see otherwise intelligent people send out emails asking a group of people to do something. For example:

To: John, Susie, Bill
From: Braindead
Re: Annual report

Who is going to prepare the first draft of the annual report? Please let me know.



It just can't end well when you ask a group to do a single task. Chances are all the people you sent the email to will assume that someone else is going to respond and ignore it. Or, two or three people will respond with different answers, which will trigger a cascade of follow-up emails to straighten out the inconsistencies. Either way, you are not moving forward. Asking a group to do something without identifying an individual to take the lead is a recipe for delay and confusion.

Instead, always send your email to a single person asking them to respond to your question or request, and copy the other people who need to know about it. For example:

To: Susie
Cc: John, Bill
From: Smartypants
Re: Annual Report

Susie, please let me know who will be preparing the first draft of the annual report. You should confer with John and Bill about who would be best to do this.


Now Susie knows she is expected to respond and your request doesn't fall through the cracks.

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