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What Does a CC Email Mean - FYI or CYA?

I'm fascinated by what things mean in corporate America.  You know, the big things - what it means when the company takes the sugar buns out of the vending machine, when my boss subscribes to my blog and yes, even the meaning of the tag line "please consider the environment before printing this email" (good thing the last email I printed was in 2006).

Of course, the significance of those items pales in comparison to this one - the meaning of being CCdCya Fyi_logo on an email.

To some, the CC is the heart of the CYA.  That camp claims every CC is a land grab to avoid future accountability.  That group can be a little testy about the topic. 

To others, the CC is a necessary component of FYI.  On this end of the spectrum, there's always a CC on the email, because someone could always use the FYI. 

You know both the camps in your company.  You are probably like me - somewhere in the middle, trying not to overdo the CC's but aware there are times when it is necessary.  The extreme views of all CYA or all FYI, all the time, don't fit most of our lifestyles.

Here's where I come down on the topic:

1.  If I know someone has a strong interest in the topic and the information isn't confidential, they'll get a CC. 

2.  If that person's not on our team, I'll generally take the time to explain to the "To" why I am CCing the rest of the gang to drop the political shields before they are raised.

3.  If I think there are folks who have felt left out or have been critical of not getting enough information in the past, I do the CC, then follow step #2.

4.  If I think I can shortcut future emails and questions with a CC to certain parties now, I do the CC and follow step #2. 

5.  If I'm dealing with a group outside of my own who has some finger pointing going on within their own team, I CC those necessary to avoid holding the bag at a later point, then follow #2.  This isn't a CYA, it's good business. 

Of course, if you're concerned about being tagged a CYA type of professional, you can always use the snarky BCC. 

I'm joking, of course.  Use the BCC, then someone can "reply to all" on the "To" line and blow the whole thing up.

Just walk away from the BCC, people....


Michael Moore

Great post. This is the stuff that should be in every orientation manual. Who cares what the 401k match might be, this information will keep you in the game.

Jessica Lee

who uses BCC's? geeeeeez. it is that difficult to just forward a sent email after the fact?

HR Wench

In my experience when someone replies to all and there are BCC's the message only goes back to the original sender. Perhaps this is not the case with all email systems though.

I'm an FYI person, but I don't explain why I'm FYI-ing. I could care less if people are paranoid or political. They need to CALM DOWN!!

Meg Bear

absolutely been burned/outed on the bcc thing -- I now go the extra forward route to save myself the hassle.

Air Force Ones

Let us recommend for the human being in crisis that he stop concentrating so upon the risks concerned as well as the difficultie¡ê?and focus rather upon the opptunity---for there exists normally possibility in crisis.

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