As alleged professionals, we all have basic responsibilities beyond those things described in our job descriptions. If your job description provides a laundry list of explicit tasks, our status as professionals imparts a second list of implied tasks that we need to carry out in order to accomplish our primary role. One of those implied tasks, at least in my mind, is reading and understanding the information put in front of us.
Part of my job, from time to time, is preparing electronic correspondence for senior leaders to inform them about upcoming meetings, key decisions made at high echelons, or to provide general information about the health of their organization. I generally write those messages as if our leaders aren’t mouth-breathing oxygen thieves. According to the self-anointed gatekeeper of such correspondence, my assumption is incorrect.
Apparently, selecting “forward” on the email task bar and referring them to the appropriate section of the message will lead to catastrophic confusion in the executive suite. These are important people and expecting them to use the little track wheel on their Blackberry to scroll down is too presumptuous. I’m told that our leaders can’t be troubled to read more than two or three sentences in an email, so it’s critical that all salient facts be presented in the viewable space when they first open a message. Thanks to my colleague, I now know that our leaders are too busy to read or contemplate any message involving the slightest hint of complexity.
Call me difficult, but when the topic has been perfectly well summarized by someone already, I don’t see any value to taking 30 minutes to reword it based on the argument that the big words might confuse our leaders or that having a message forwarded might offend their delicate sensibilities. Despite my occasional arguments to the contrary, I don’t really think our leaders are that dumb and I certainly don’t think they are that delicate.
Editorial Note: This part of a continuing series of posts previously available on a now defunct website. They are appearing on http://www.jeffreytharp.com for the first time. This post has been time stamped to correspond to its original publication date.