We’re at an interesting point in time when it comes to business culture. People with many backgrounds and experiences are working together more now than ever before. Some team members are young who have never worked at an in person job and have always had a cell phone. Others are older people who started working before laptop computers or the internet even existed. Some employees have only worked in at big corporate companies, while others have been at startups. These people all have different working styles. They are now collaborating together, via the tiny camera on their computers.
Variations make communication differences quite interesting to observe. You probably have some coworkers who will only call you if there’s a scheduled meeting on your calendar. Others may send you an unplanned message, asking if you have time to talk, even when there’s no meeting scheduled. And, then there are a handful that will call with no notice. These differences are driven by multiple factors, including generation and work experience.
Similarly, people have different habits when it comes to written communication. Some people prefer email, while others like Slack. Within email, there are fairly distinct differences. Some emails are sent from one person to another single person. Others include many extra people as a carbon copy, for informational purposes. Some emails will have recipients included as a blind carbon copy, to reduce the number of replies. And, other emails will add additional people to existing email chains.
Over the years, I’ve started to believe that there is an inverse relationship with email and the size of the company. In other words, the smaller an organization is, the more recipients will be included on a single email. People at startups tend to copy many people at once. This keeps everyone up to date, and is seen as being more efficient. Within a large company, it’s more common to see email chains that include only the bare minimum number of people. The sender doesn’t want to involve anyone who doesn’t need to be on the email.
The same trend seems to also be true in meetings between two companies. A small company will bring many attendees to a meeting in an effort to show that the company is legitimate. A large company will send one or two representatives, who serve as the sole points of contact.
No matter the venue, one thing hasn’t changed. Praise in public, and criticize in private. Calling someone out in a meeting in front of others does nothing but hurt your relationship with them. If you’re asking a colleague for something via email and aren’t getting the results you want, call them or email them — directly. Don’t copy additional people. Even if you aren’t trying to put them on the spot, this is how it will likely feel. No one wants their shortcomings to be pointed out in front of others. Adjust your approach, and you’ll get better results.