Corporate E-Learning
Monday, May 02, 2005
Chain Letters from the Boss

Recently there is an interesting discussion thread in TechRepublic. The first post (by OneShoe) is

I am at a loss as to how to handle the onslaught of junk email that is routinely sent internally throughout my company by fellow employees including the executive staff and mostly the CFO, my boss.

This morning I received yet another "John 3:16, Jesus Loves You, forward this to ten people" chain letter email with the animated graphics and all that crap.

OneShoe is annoyed.

The first issue I have with these is the Network Admin side of me that is annoyed that these emails go all over my network, clogging up my servers and taking up space. They are in violation of the company's acceptable use policy and are generally a big waste of company time.

The second issue is my personal opinion that these emails are both offensive and inappropriate in the workplace. The top executives are sending emails throughout the company pushing their religious beliefs on subordinates asking them to come to Jesus.

I have mentioned my issue to various managers in the past, including my boss, requesting they remove me from their mass mail lists yet the emails continue. I have filters setup in Outlook, but many emails still get through because I can't get too strict with my filtering without missing some actual business related emails.

I do not really have the desire to make a major issue of this but I would like it to stop. Any suggestions?
[my emphasis]

Lots of suggestions flow in. Here is a good one.
People are addicted to forwarding that crap because then they can pretend that they are evangelizing without having to put any thought or work into it. Threatening legal action, while within your rights and perhaps a good strategy for long-run changes in the corporate culture, would also have the effect of isolating you from many of your co-workers.

If the people in your company have web access, create a policy in which people setup webmail accounts for personal communications (such as this crap) and restrict the usage of company e-mail accounts to work-related missives. You can spin this situation as positive with a memo to your boss on how to save on network traffic (or something like that.)

Another obvious view is this one:
you realistically have two options - 1) live with the problem the best you can, or 2) find another job, either by suing or just going out and getting one.

Eventually, OneShoe posted this
Well, thank you all for the sometimes constructive and always creative feedback. Here is what I have learned and decided:

1. Religious nuts and people who threaten legal action over every little thing have a lot in common in my book.

2. Managing computer users is a lot like raising children. To get them to stop doing something, you have to redirect their focus as opposed to confronting them head on.

3. I am not going to waste any more of my time worrying about these emails. I have plenty of other things than annoy me much more than this that I can focus my energy on.

Time for some tunes and a fresh cup o' joe. It's Friday!

From a corporate learning point of view, is there a lesson that we can learn? If there is any HR people reading my post, you should think about the consequence this may have.

Any better solution? I think there is at least one. I will reveal that tomorrow.
I think that I prefer to get both the question and the answer in the same post and on the same day.
The main reason that I need to split the post into two days is that I was runniong of time yesterday. It seems today is not any better. Anyway, I am writing the second part of the post now.
Albert, I'll be interested in seeing your response.
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