How do I politely remind the COO of a company to respond to my previous email?

RodrikTheReader 08/22/2017. 6 answers, 9.754 views
professionalism email

I am expected to join their company in the next few days. It's a small company of about 50 people and there is no formal HR department. I've been communicating directly with the COO so far.

There has been a change in my schedule and I'll be able to join the new company 1 month later than I had anticipated. I sent her an email on Friday @ 1 pm (today is Monday) informing her this and explicitly requested her to let me know if it was okay.

I've not heard back from her, yet. I understand that some people choose not to see work related emails over weekends. But I'm inclined to believe that she has seen the email but forgot to reply (which is quite understandable). I wouldn't worry about this in normal circumstances but I need to talk to my current manager as soon as possible and that depends on the reply I get from this COO.

I want to remind her, but

Hi XYZ, please respond to my last email.

sounds rude to me. Should I just copy paste the last email?

UPDATE 1 : I listened to @Jane and decided to wait until tomorrow. But I got a reply late evening. A few emails were exchanged back and forth. Here's the summary -

She told me that it was very unprofessional of me to commit to a date I was not ready to honour. I apologised to her to begin with & explained that I gave them the date because I'd seen some cases where other people in my office were released in a very short period. But my current employer has caught me in technicalities and if I don't serve the full official notice period, I will have to pay a large penalty. I didn't dare to ask her if they'd be willing to pay that on my behalf. She said she needs to discuss the situation internally and they'll let me know their decision by tomorrow.

In short, I messed up. Bigtime.

UPDATE 2 : I kept the job! My joining bonus took a significant hit. But I'm just happy to have salvaged the job. My guess is that a fresh interview process might have taken the same amount of time in which I'd be able start there (this time for real :P).

Thanks a lot The Workplace! You were a big help. You cannot imagine how palpable my relief is. I really didn't want to lose this.

Lesson Learned : NEVER promise your new employer a date which is earlier than the official notice period of your current organization.

30 J... 07/31/2017
Wait... did you accept a new job and promise a start date, but then let your old boss talk you into staying another month when you gave your notice?
10 Lilienthal♦ 07/31/2017
If you're unsure whether "please respond" is rude I can only imagine what your original mail contained. As the answers below state this isn't a simple FYI but something that employers can pull offers over. If you're starting in the next few days, why on earth did you think this wouldn't warrant a phone call?
30 J... 07/31/2017
@RodrikTheReader Well... if it looks like a duck... I mean, unless you have a clear contractual obligation to give what we can best infer is six weeks of notice, and unless you really don't care about having the new job, then I would probably strongly reconsider your decision to play to the wishes of your old company. If there was that much dependency on you, then it's really your manager's problem to deal with.
13 Dan Neely 07/31/2017
For any similar situation with your end date in the future, always give whatever the contractual maximum is unless you've already negotiated a shorter period. If your soon to be ex employer frequently lets people go sooner you can add that you might be able to start sooner; but never make a promise that is contingent on someone else for you to be able to keep. Especially when that person is likely to be upset with you.
8 NotMe 07/31/2017
If I was the COO, I would have sat on that email until I decided whether the next candidate in line might have been a better choice.

6 Answers

Jane S 07/31/2017.

A better way of wording it would be to reply to the previous email you sent to her with something like:


I was wondering if you have had a chance to take a look at the email I sent on Friday. I'm sorry to push, I just need to have confirmation so that I can work with my current manager as soon as possible.

Regards. RodrikTheReader

I understand the urgency, but you do need to give her a chance to not only read but to act on the information you have given her. I'd recommend waiting until tomorrow (Tuesday) morning and then sending off the above.

user74711 07/31/2017.

You should pick up the phone and call her, or someone else at the company if you cannot reach her.

However, you should also make it very clear that this is blunder on your part, and that you are willing to be very flexible and find a solution that will work for the company.

Isak Combrinck 08/03/2017.

In general, patience is a virtue. Even if the email is somewhat urgent you need to allow at least 1–2 working days for a response. People are busy and that especially counts for COOs. While a lot of people do read their work related emails over the weekend it should not be brought into account, instead you need to make effort on you part to communicate during the week.

If the email is urgent you can send a read receipt with it (not recommended, but worth mentioning). This will notify you when the person confirms that they have read the email. Note that when using read receipts they can still read it and choose not to notify you. Read receipts can also be considered rude by some people.

If you have not received a response within 1–2 working days then you should call the person being contacted. Sending a second email within such a short amount of time might come of as rude to some people but calling wont. Calling shows that you are serious about working with them.

However, in your case I would call today (Monday). You said that you are expected to start within the next few days so even waiting one day can be too long.

Take this next part with a bit of salt...

Technically if your old employer already knew that you would be leaving in a few days then they should not expect you to stay longer. They may ask but they can not expect it. So if it is not completely OK with the new company you need to tell the old employer no.

Update: You learned a valuable lesson. Just because previous employees where released on a short basis does not mean you will get the same treatment. When looking to switch jobs you need to first make sure until when you are contractually subjected to work before promising any date to your new employer.

Coxy 08/01/2017
Counter-opinion: do not use read receipts. They are considered rude by a lot of people. "most people won['t deliberately not send a read receipt]" maybe not most, but potentially a lot. And even if you do receive a read receipt, it doesn't actually help you.
Isak Combrinck 08/03/2017
I reflected on my suggestion to use read receipts and changed my meaning. I have become accustomed to receiving them over time but I remember how rude I found them in the beginning.

brian d foy 07/31/2017.

Start your new job when you said you would and work as a consultant for your old job, should that be allowed. Many people who were important to their previous employer have gone this route to aid the transition (rather than delay the inevitable). You sticking around longer at the place you are leaving isn't going to help as much as anyone imagines and the world will go on without you.

Also consider that you sent the first email on a Friday in the summer and it's merely Monday.

Slinky Sloth 07/31/2017.

You could always send a "Correction: ...." email if there is anything (even something trivial) you would change in your previous email. This way you'll be more discreet.

krmanish007 07/31/2017.

It is generally avoided to send important office emails on Friday afternoon. People mostly read, think to reply, but many times goes in a different mood and often forget. Monday morning, it was already read and so there was no reminder to reply.

I would rather go with replying the last sent mail with only signature, and change the subject line to Reminder: , and in case you want more humble, add body "incase you missed previous mail...."

The more you write, the more problem you create. Be simple and to the point.

2 Robert Dundon 07/31/2017
IMHO "in case you missed [the] previous mail" speaks as passive-aggressive and not nice response, especially when address to a higher-up
3 Peter 07/31/2017
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