With treasury staff communicating so frequently via the internet these days, never has the written word been more powerful. Infrequent face-to-face interaction means that the manner in which virtual and written messages are presented can have a huge impact. The age-old power of a well-written message can still work wonders. A poorly written message can lead to confusion, hurt feelings, or worse.
How you start communicating and/or how you respond determines how effective communication can be. Here are some tips that can be especially useful to practitioners who are just beginning to get their feet wet in the treasury world.
A written message should always have an opening, a middle and an end. Make sure to start with a salutation and perhaps inquire about how the individual is doing. This makes the message more palatable to the reader(s) as it helps to connect with them. Remember, many times in an office setting you will be emailing complete strangers that you may never meet face-to-face. This makes it very important to connect. When closing the message, let your audience know that they should contact you in case of any ambiguity. Make sure that your contact information is visible in your email signature.
Intent and context
Clearly articulate what the message is meant for. Is it an inquiry, a comment, a status update or an acknowledgement? The subject line can be used for this purpose. That way the message you send will not be noise. Always try to give a short background so that all recipients are on the same page—especially if there is long chain of emails that you are adding your message to. If you are requesting information, provide a deadline for when you need to receive the information. Focus on collaboration and getting the job done; avoid getting defensive or pointing fingers. Your email messages go a long way in developing relationships at work, therefore, choose your words wisely.
The tone of an email can go a long way in getting a message across. Keep it very professional. Don’t use emails to make your problem someone else’s problem. Ask the receiving party for their assistance rather than simply forwarding emails and passing responsibility on to them.
Even if the message is not pleasant, convey it in a very respectful and professional way. With a lot going on, it is easy to get overwhelmed by emails; no matter what, never let stress and negative emotions overwhelm you to the point that you transfer that negativity in the email. Refrain from getting into arguments over email. Objectively communicate your point of view in the email and offer to arrange a face-to-face meeting or phone call to resolve the issue. Take it offline and resolve as soon as possible.
If the email is addressed to you, make sure to respond as quickly as you are able. This portrays a very professional image of you, lets the sending party know they are important to you, and shows that you are good at managing your workload. Emails instantly put the ball in your court; the downside is that this can be a big distraction and take your focus away from your core job. To handle email traffic efficiently, check your email about every half hour, just so that you don’t miss out on any major issue. If the email is requesting something that you are unable to provide; forward it to the relevant person and copy the sender. This helps others achieve their objectives.
Test, and test again
Virtual meetings, webinars and Skype interviews are the norm today. Whenever you are arranging a virtual meeting or tuning in for one, make sure that you have the necessary software and have tested it out prior to the meeting. A day in advance is recommended so that you can resolve any IT issues. For video conferences, make sure you are in a noise free area and the background is professional looking. It is wise not to attempt video calls from the local coffee shop or in your pajamas from your couch. It is also a good idea to have good working knowledge of the communication tools out there so that you can utilize them to the fullest.
Communicate to collaborate
Collaboration in treasury is vital to achieving goals. To collaborate you need to communicate. Putting some thought in how we do that, even in the virtual world, will make you stand out and shine. This is important for accomplishing tasks, building relationships, great teams and most importantly, your career. Remember, even though communication is not face to face in the virtual world, your message represents you.
Shafia Sarwar, CTP, is senior treasury analyst for Coca-Cola and is a member of AFP’s Emerging Leaders Program. Learn more about the Emerging Leaders here.