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CCs, Email and Your Organization: It Doesn't Always Mean What You Think It Means...

Db

Quick post today to get you to consider the history of the CC in your organization:

  1. Email was created - and management was happy. Communications was improved!
  2. Companies are political animals - and email started being used in a variety of political ways in your company. One of the political ways email was used was the CC. More on that in a second.
  3. Email soon overwhelmed individuals in the company as it became the communication tool of choice - over the phone, in person communication, meetings, etc.
  4. Overwhelmed individuals lashed out against many features of email, including the CC - with the garden variety attack on the CC claiming it was a CYA tool overused in corporate America.

I'm going to zig while others have zagged about the CC.  One of the trends I've always noticed was the follow comment, which I'm paraphrasing:

"I didn't copy you on that because I didn't want to bother you/contribute to your email overload"  Translation: "I did you a favor, mister".

Hmm. Sometimes that's true and the intent is pure.

However, sometimes that's not true and the intent is less pure. At times, the individual involved may not even be aware of the real reason they're withholding information - because not sharing is power - it leads to less conversations, less conflict, etc.  A bit passive aggressive in certain circumstances.

The CC isn't the problem. The problem is how information flows and how work happens in your organization.  My guidance to my team has always been the following:

"I like information. You can CC me or simply forward the email after you send if you think the presence of a CC is offensive to others - that's your call. But don't assume you're overwhelming me or I don't need the info.  I treat CC or forwarded emails that I don't have to take action on as a gift of information only. I read quickly, delete - and then I have more context of what's going on within the work fabric of my team".

The CC isn't the problem.  It's the context of why the CC is provided.  

I see as many problems with the lack of a CC as I do with the presence of a CC.  

BCC?  No thanks. You're basically telling me you're unwilling to confront the fact you're over-communicating and potentially setting me up for a massive fail in reply-based communications.

I like the CC. If that makes me a freak, so be it.

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