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Electronic maintenance – Effective groups

Electronic maintenance

You may like to ask two or three people in your team to do the same thing. How similar are they? What can you do to tackle any differences?
Effective groups, be they problem-solving or producing, need maintenance.
Handy (1985)

Charles Handy (1985) argues that maintaining a team involves:
• encouraging
• compromising
• peacekeeping
• clarifying and summarising
• standard setting.

Electronic maintenance

Team leaders have a growing range of electronic media that they can use to help maintain the team. E-mail is available to many teams, the Internet and company intranets are used increasingly, and team meetings of people in different parts of the country are held using audio or video links.

These technologies offer real benefits for teams. They can allow people to exchange information rapidly and at times that suit them.

However, e-mail can also be used inappropriately. E-mail overload is a growing problem in many organisations. Abrupt or unfriendly e-mails, like any other type of communication, can irritate or upset people.

I was really concerned that a manager was using e-mail to tell off his staff because he found it difficult to confront issues face to face!


Now do this
You may have heard people talk about e-mails and how they use them. Think about how your colleagues and other managers use e-mail.
What do they find it most useful for?
[space to write 2 lines]
How do they keep the number of e-mails under control?
[space to write 2 lines]

You may want to follow this up by asking other team leaders how they deal with e-mails.
Here are some guidelines for using e-mail for team maintenance:
Agree standards of e-etiquette with your team. These could cover how you begin and end e-mails, levels of informality, etc.
Avoid e-mail proliferation – don’t send four messages when one will do
Don’t use e-mail when it’s better to discuss things in person or on the phone
Do use e-mail for the things it is suited to – routine requests and information, planning a time for meetings, details of availability, etc.
I find e-mail great for setting up meetings. It’s much quicker than the phone for agreeing a time – and it also helps me to set an agenda that meets all our needs.
Team leader

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