Email Escalation and Culture

Secretaries and admins have almost no ability to “filter” what the boss reads and more.The massive use of email enables direct and indirect escalation via use of cc and bcc.

Furthermore, the pace of business imparts a feeling of constant urgency. Add to this the fear of losing a job and the derivative need to “transfer blame.

The above provides a perfect context for a culture of escalation, where almost everything  “floats to the top.”

Culture also impacts the degree to which one uses escalation.

Bat-Sheva (f, from Beersheba Israel) believes that bosses in general, and her boss in particular, make errors all the time. She also believes that “hierarchy” and “undue process” do not solve urgent problems. Bat-Sheva escalates almost everything via cc and bcc.

Joe (m from Durham NC, USA) is matter of fact, polite and positive. He works the system well, and following process. Joe rarely shows his anger, however he does express emotion “expediently”. Joe however can write very aggressive and flaming emails, which vent horrendous rage. Often Joe can meet someone in the hall, whom he has attacked, and says: “Wow, did you see that email I shot off?”

Nu (f from Bangkok) uses email for transmission on facts and data. Nu never escalates anything by email. To give info to the boss’s boss, she has lunch with his sister, a colleague of hers. Nu expresses emotion by ignoring emails. She has a special filter  that transfers all emails from Joe and Bat-Sheva to the bin.

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