Managing the Font of Email Signatures – Now That’s Value-Added Organizational Work…

Kris Dunn Kris Dunn

When I got to my previous company, there was a sheet in the orientation package that listed the company’s protocol regarding email signatures in Outlook.   Mandated size, font, order of content, etc.  Total control – after all, you can’t trust EMPLOYEES to make decisions about important details like this, right?

Wrong.  I ripped it up and banned the sheet from orientation and any other type of distribution.  ButEmail before you consider me the people’s champion, understand it’s for me as much as it is for them.

Allowing employees to do whatever they want with their signatures is not only American, it’s natural selection and Psych 101 at its best.  Consider the following:

1.  By allowing employees to “let their freak flag fly” when it comes to fonts and colors, you find out who the outliers are.  See an employee break out the Comic Sans in purple with a paisley background?  That’s all you need to know.  Make sure the Christmas party is alcohol-free for this person.

2.  Title inflation tells you who the Enron guys are – I love seeing who will add that little twist to their title, like the Customer Service Rep who will list their title as “Customer Service Representative – Reporting” because they pull the ACD stats off the printer at the end of their shift.  Just enough of a bump to feel a little bit superior…. and to pump up the resume (PS, with this crowd it’s usually on Monster before you notice the title inflation).

3.  I don’t need the Book of The Month club when I’ve got you laying down the quotes as a part of your signature.  Nothing says “Damn, I’m academic and philosophical” more than a good quote at the end of your signature.  What’s that?  This week is something from Sun Tzu?   Sweet!  I was just thinking that business is a lot like ancient war, and you broke it down perfectly…

4.  Oops – This person doesn’t have a signature.  What’s that mean?  Probably a deep thinker who has disconnected themselves from the false status of titles…. Or, they don’t know how to program a VCR.  Either way, I want to give them a big hug… They are my heroes in a world flooded with advertising, positioning and spin…

It’s America, so you can do what you want with your email signature!!  Just know all your friends will be psychoanalyzing every letter, color and font from the cheap seats…. PS – my current title (VP of People) was provided to me by my current company, and I’m growing into it.  Don’t judge me!

Kris Dunn
Kris Dunn is a Partner and CHRO at Kinetix, a national RPO firm for growth companies headquartered in Atlanta. He's also the founder Fistful of Talent (founded in 2008) and The HR Capitalist (2007) – and has written over 70 feature columns at Workforce Management magazine. Prior to his investment at Kinetix, Kris served in HR leadership roles at DAXKO, Charter and Cingular. In his spare time, KD hits the road as a speaker and gives the world what it needs – pop culture references linked to Human Capital street smarts.