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Prompting committee members to vote by e-mail

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Question: “Each quarter, I send an e-mail to a committee of approximately 60 members, many of whom are upper management/executives. They have a deadline to respond, using voting buttons (so it’s easy for them), and I flag it to remind them a day ahead of time.

“Inevitably, about eight or 10 don’t respond by the deadline, and I send an e-mail asking them to please respond by the end of business that day, reminding them of the reason these messages are being sent.

“I always feel like this separate e-mail is pointing fingers at them, and I don’t want to do that. Because of the size of the committee, I would prefer not to e-mail the entire group with the request to those who haven’t responded.

“Should I address them by blind copy (Bcc field) so no one can see who the e-mail has been sent to? What’s the most professional way to approach this situation?”  -- Anonymous


“I would ‘Bcc’ a reminder to those who haven’t responded. It’s an appropriate, professional way to follow up without embarrassing them. (They might have a valid reason for not responding, such as being out of town).

“However, if there are chronic ‘repeat offenders,’ you’ll need to address that problem separately. Many executives are overwhelmed with the volume of e-mail they receive. You could ask if they have an assistant who could act as the contact person. (My boss often asks me to handle routine tasks for him—in this case, he could orally give me his input and ask me to respond for him.)”

“If it’s only eight to 10 people who don’t respond, I recommend picking up the phone and speaking to them personally or leaving a message with their assistant. I believe oral contact also demonstrates the importance of your request. Be sure to give them the date and subject of your original e-mail request so they can locate it and respond quickly.

“I’m the assistant to a president/CEO, and nine times out of 10, it’s just that he hasn’t had a chance to get to it yet due to the many other demands he’s trying to meet. He may not get to his e-mail and see a second reminder. He always appreciates an oral reminder.”

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