Has this scenario happened to you…

You send an email, but a few days later, haven’t received a response. You also don’t get a response to the second email, or the third.  Finally, you pick up the phone.

It’s not that the email is for the person. It’s for the one who holds that position. When you ask for the person by name, the response is, “Oh, he doesn’t work here anymore.”

Good thing you called! Now, you have the correct contact information for the new person. Now, your important communication will actually get through to the right person.

But don’t you wonder…

Exactly what happened to all three of your emails? Welcome to the Email Bermuda Triangle.

We know that people come and people go over time. Someone leaves a job. Someone else takes over that job. In far too many cases, miscommunication results in balls being dropped.

When someone leaves your organization, what happens to the email sent to that person’s inbox? If your organization doesn’t have a good plan, let’s get started today.

Checklists to the rescue…

One of my blog posts talks about a book entitled The Checklist Manifesto. Its premise is that developing a checklist for handling repetitive situations minimizes errors. The author is a surgeon and provides examples of how simple checklists save lives in the operating room.

In another post, I provided a partial list of exit tasks for the person who is leaving a job. In this article, we explore one task for the employer.

The worst thing is to leave a mailbox active and unmonitored. Time-sensitive information for the new person gathers “digital dust” in the mailbox of the person who is already out the door. The sender has no clue the information is not received. The newly-hired person has no clue that he or she is missing out.

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Your organization likely has a checklist of what to do when someone is leaving a job. Otherwise, people leave but continue to be paid! They would walk off the job with company-issued property. They might still have keys to a building where they no longer work. Let’s add to that checklist a procedure to handle the email account for the exiting employee.

The procedure could take one of three forms:

  1. Check the mailbox of the person who is leaving the job. Forward important information to the new person. Delete the rest. Now, kill the email address. Anyone sending to that address will get a bounce-back. The sender will know the email was not received and can act accordingly.
  2. Log into the email account of the person exiting the organization. Create an out-of-office automated response. Anyone emailing to this account would receive an automated email letting the sender know about the job change and giving the contact information for the new person.
  3. Configure the email settings of the new person so that email sent to his or her predecessor also downloads to the new person’s account. The new person gets the information and can let others know to update their contacts.

Add to any of these procedures changing the email password. You don’t want a former employee accessing company email after their departure.

Any of the three procedures will work. You may think of variations on any of them. The organization simply needs to pick one and make it a part of its standard operating procedure.

Does the Email Bermuda Triangle exist in your organization? Check and see. If so, you can fix that one today.

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