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Why Management by Email Fails

Email is not your management solution: it would be your problem

The pattern of human communication is established at the top. This is why executives must be strategic about building a sense of connectedness with virtual and satellite workers.

Easier said than done.

Management by email

We joined with Harris Poll to conduct an online survey among 2,026 adults, 63% of whom had worked virtually. We learned that 55% of American employees who have worked virtually say their boss communicated with them almost exclusively by email.


Employees are wasting hours managing email. This does nothing to build connections, much less to build trust.

Employees forced to rely on email for support, guidance, feedback, and encouragement cannot take ownership of the company’s mission, goals or big picture, all of which are critical to the bottom line.

Face time is a remedy

It’s unreasonable to suggest that a far-flung operation would forego email and I’m not suggesting you try that tactic. I have some other ideas in mind, like declaring Fridays “No Email Days” and encouraging real-time encounters.

Take the lead when you pick up the phone or use Skype to communicate instead of firing off another email.

Speaking of Skype, be sure to turn on the video. Audio-only conference call is unsatisfying and draining. Team members need see each other on videoconference because humans are not influenced and don’t feel engaged by disembodied tools that allow us to multitask.

This article I wrote for Fast Company, “6 Ways to Make Virtual Work More Human” offers easy-to-implement solutions for employee engagement. I welcome the opportunity to help you re-humanize your workplace(s). Reach out here.


Lou Solomon

Lou Solomon is the founder of Interact. She is a TEDx speaker and a member of the adjunct faculty at the McColl School of Business at Queens University of Charlotte. Her articles have appeared in Harvard Business Review,,, and Fast Company.