Why Delegating Email Can Soil Your Reputation


I’ve been taken aback by an entrepreneur who supposedly wanted to collaborate and find ways to support each other. After a riveting discussion (which he asked to extend), we agreed to stay in touch and find tangible ways to collaborate. Within an hour I received a text message asking for help. I was pleased to provide my feedback.

Since then, I’m pretty sure that he’s fallen off the map. It’s difficult to “stay in touch” with someone who does not respond.

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You see, this gentleman has delegated his email in the name of productivity, and, unfortunately, it’s not working. I am not against delegating email for productivity gain, but his productivity gain is my productivity loss. It is my growing frustration. It is his deteriorating reputation.

For one, his assistant is horribly unresponsive. To add salt in the wound, she seems to be nothing more than a swivel chair.

A week or so after our meeting, I reached out to offer him a high profile opportunity.  An opportunity that many would, and have, paid significant money to be a part of. Eight days later his assistant responded, with a question, not an answer. Three email exchanges later, each one seeking more clarification, I have finally received an answer. But, of course, it’s alongside another question.

You know what, I give up. Offer revoked. Reputation destroyed. This is too hard.

I don’t have time to process four emails when we could have had a simple discussion. If you need clarification, pick up a phone. If you want a dialogue, engage. If you or your assistant want to shoot me a series of questions in email, that’s fine too, but engage enough to think through all of them at once. I don’t have the mental patience to go back and forth with your assistant while she clumsily communicates between us. If you don’t want to engage, just say no.

Don’t get me wrong. I have no problem with email delegation. In fact, I’m starting to experiment with it myself. But you better believe I’m being extraordinarily careful. While I want to create space and protect myself from the onslaught of requests, I also want you to feel valued and respected – as though I realize your time is just as precious as mine.

When I crack the nut, I’ll make sure to share my recipe. Until then, if you’re going to delegate your email, you’d better do it exceptionally well.

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