Q: The other day, my supervisor relieved me for about 15 minutes while I went on a break. When I returned, I found he’d gone through my e-mail and flagged a number of work-related e-mails that he felt were outdated and were slowing down the computer. He then went through each one, explaining why it should be erased and then deleting it for me. I considered this action to be intrusive and rude. What’s your opinion?
A: Workers often believe their office e-mails are somehow “theirs” or “private.” Unfortunately, they’re wrong on both counts. I do think your boss’s approach may have been a bit heavy-handed, though. A more positive way of handling the situation would have been to say: “While you were away, I couldn’t help noticing you have a lot of unnecessary e-mail on your computer. I’d like to take a few minutes to review your e-mails with you, and establish some guidelines to help you keep your mailbox less cluttered.” Either way, the lesson for you is obvious: Make more of an effort to clear out old or unnecessary e-mails from your mailbox.