The way I look at it, the key objective of communication upwards in the IT organization is to effectively communicate emotion.
Remember the 7% (verbal) -38% (tonality) -55% (body language) communication rule. In email we have to use words to transmit the emotion.
Imagine the typical situation where you were assigned to handle a specific situation, and are to keep the upper management informed. Throughout my career I have faced many such situations, and this is what I learned.
Typical key expectations:
- Regular status updates during execution (frequency depends on context)
- “Management summary” style brief information
- Be “kept in the loop” for important disruptions to the plan (they want to hear from you before someone else escalates to them!)
They want to see:
- Are you in control of the situation (“on top of things”, “can we (still) trust you” to lead this)?
- At which step of the action plan are we now? Is the action plan on track?
- If not, what do you do about it (or where do you need my help)?
- What is ETA (estimated time for arrival) for results or intermediary deliverables?
Watch out for:
- Who is in cc & what is in the email trace (you do not control who forwards what to who…)
- Outdated or too generic subject lines. The content of subject line is VERY important, it sets the tone for the message, and influences what email get opened before others…
- Is the key information concise & coming across in <30 seconds?
- Add color coding (red/green), bullet point lists, bold or other markers to highlight parts.