I am one of 2 points of contact for a team.

If someone addresses an email or question to both of us, and my other colleague replies to it, but I don't, then does it look like I am irresponsible?

The email was not an urgent or important.

  • "replies to it, not me", does that mean that you do not receive the e-mail? Or just that you are cc-ed? – Bernhard Nov 6 '14 at 8:14
  • replies to it - meaning replies to the mail. i dont reply to the mail, colleague does. – varini s Nov 6 '14 at 23:13

The whole point of having two points of contact is that only one of you needs to reply to the email. If your colleague has sufficiently addressed the questions in the email, then you don't need to do anything. Often times I'll include multiple people just so they all know what's going on, not because I need action from each one of them.

However, if your colleague is always the person replying to emails and you are not, that could look bad. Maybe you just don't get to your email as often as your colleague, or maybe your colleague is the type of person who responds the instant they receive an email. Either way, it's good to have your voice heard regularly, but it doesn't need to be every single time.

So relax, you're probably overthinking things. As long as you are doing some of the communicating, you shouldn't have anything to worry about.

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This calls for official process Either task management system (could be bit overkill), but it should be oficially known to everyone that:

  • Response time is X
  • If not, then person Y is escalation point

Also, my question is:

What is the ratio? If you are only two people in team, then logically the ratio of answered e-mails should logically be 50:50

To me, it sounds like "one last drop" - your colleague might feel like he is answering all the e-mails, while you do nothing. So if someone tries to judge you for not answering low prio non urgent e-mail, their motive could be "I had it enough"

So next steps:

  • Get hard data from at least 3 months in the past. And see what is the ratio of answered e-mails which have been addressed to both of you. If the ratio is 80-20 to your colleague, you have problem. If it is around 50-50 then you are pobably ok.
  • Get reasons. I am already expecting the rate of answered e-mails will be around 60-40 to 80-20 in favour of your colleague. Get good, real answer why is it happening like that. Obviously, skip this step if rate is 50-50
  • Talk to your colleague You have to be prepared for both variants. Either (if the ratio is 50-50) be like "whats going on?" and assume some misunderstanding, or be like: "I thought my main task is X while your task is answering e-mails. Lets set up a process on this, shall we?"
  • Talk to person who raised this as an issue. And assure them about the process and how you as team are aware about priotity of each e-mail

Again, assume misunderstanding, assume best intentions and act as willing to change, willing to take over, willing to step up (proactive, active, happy to do more work)

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  • This seems like an incredibly overkill response for a really simple situation. – David K Nov 6 '14 at 12:40
  • We do need to know more about what the official process is here... and if you don't have one, then I think it's time to establish one, even if it's informal. If the process is "whoever gets to it first answers it, copying the other so they can add ideas if appropriate", then the only question is whether OVER THE LONGER TERM you're doing your share of the work, not whether you're replying to every message that comes in. If you aren't, you need to fix that. If you are, nobody expects you to be the first responder every time so you should relax. – keshlam Nov 6 '14 at 14:15

Better answer: You should, if possible, set up a team group account or distribution group. All project communication should go through this group.

Reasons for this:

  1. Late-joining team members have access to communications from before their coming on-board, and can catch up on context.
  2. You don't have to communicate additions / deletions from the team to external parties. This is especially important if any of those are clients.
  3. This is a personal peeve of mine: I get tired of "Clown-Car" emails. There should not be a dozen people on a message. They should be from one team to another. Admittedly, this is a bigger deal to me than to others, but take a good look at the vendors you deal with: How many are sending and cc'ing half a dozen people in their own company, or does it come from a "team" or "department" account?
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