The recent news regarding members of the government and military should hammer home the importance behind a robust email review. At the same time, these incidents reflect the importance of thinking before you press send.
Over the last decade that I have been coaching financial advisors on risk avoidance techniques, issues surrounding email use have become more prevalent. Email is a great time-saver, but has resulted in many of you becoming intellectually lazy about the substance of your emails.
The most important thing to remember about email is that the “e” does not stand for electronic. Rather, in my view, it stands for both “ever-lasting” and “exhibit”.
In other words, email will always remain in computer space, only to be recovered by a skilled technician. Deletions are only temporary. Think about the substance of your email before you send it because that email will always be available for the world to read.
Also, do not put anything in an email that you would not want blown up as an exhibit in a trial. If you look at a draft email and think it may be a bit out of line, think how a judge, jury or arbitration panel will think when they look at that email on a wide screen or enlarged poster board at trial. It is not a pretty sight when it is your email.
By the same token, these recent events should serve as an impetus for firms to revisit their systemic email review. Think about the trigger words that your systems uses to flag emails. Revise those triggers over time to focus on ever-changing issues. What may be an area of focus this year, may not be the next.
Email can be a great tool or a terrible curse. Only you can decide which it will be by your actions. Think before you hit send.