Anyone who has survived the pandemic era (2020-2021) would readily accept the fact that email has become even more of a pain in the corporate world than it was earlier. Due to the forced isolation, a byproduct (even a direct product, if such a term exists) of working (!) from home, the need to communicate fanatically to stay relevant in the organization has increased exponentially. The so-called business emails are becoming synonymous with junk mail.
Enter the Forward Manager. No, no….. this is not the person that is forward thinking, or planning ahead, as you might be tempted to assume. He is simply one who automatically forwards all emails received to one or more people. He is the human version of a message router in the computer networking world.
Such forwarding managers are brilliant strategists who do not directly respond to any email communications received by them because they are largely clueless about the subject matter involved. However, by forwarding the email received to an unsuspecting audience they convey the impression of ‘getting the job done’ and also effectively ‘delegating; work’. Wherever possible, they also add a remark such as, ‘I thought you might be better suited to address this issue’ that depicts a master stroke of humility, rather than ignorance.
The larger the scope of such a manager’s responsibilities, and the more disconnected the individual departments under him are, the easier it is to play this game of deflection, since neither the person who originally sent the mail nor the one who is the target of the ‘forward’ have any clue as to why the redirection happened. The original sender might even be led to think that a mistake had been made in addressing the email to this manager in the first place. And, as for the recipient of the forward, well, he is in the same state as one receiving the wrong question paper at the final exam for his diploma – a deer in headlights.
A seasoned forwarding manager can also add a bit of intrigue to the scenario by doing things like adding a ‘?’ to the forwarded message. This simple one-character prologue can lead to several interpretations – ‘why is this email coming to me?’, ‘what have you done so far to alleviate the problem mentioned herein?’ ‘when are we meeting, over lunch, to discuss this’ or simply, ‘I don’t know what is going on’, the last one being closest to the real situation.
To keep matters interesting, the forward specialist chooses recipients randomly. For example, a sales query may be sent to a (un)lucky recipient in Finance making that recipient think that this is an existing customer who needs to be billed. If the forwarded email originally contained a long list of ‘cc’ addresses (a phenomenon providing entertainment in its own right), the resulting crisscross email flow would be enough to set all servers on fire. And the fun only doubles when the mail is forwarded to one of the company personnel who is already in the list of original addressees.
Of course, the forwarding phenomenon is not restricted or limited to email alone. It includes the broad array of modern day communication channels – SMS messages, voice mails, collaborative tools such as Teams and Slack and various social media channels which are freely used in today’s corporate world for business information exchange.
I seriously think there is a valid case to remove all the extra features such as cc, bcc, reply, reply all and, yes, Forward in email software.