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I have a coworker who has a habit of CCing our common boss on nearly all email correspondence. The boss is hands-on enough to know what we are talking about but he is also cool and practical enough to not micromanage and I am almost 100% sure that her CCs do not get much of his attention considering his work load, his email traffic, and the relative relevance of her email content. Even when I initiate an email thread and she is the only recipient, when replying she would add him in CC. I tend to be minimalist and considerate of my manager's work load and prefer to not get him involved if things can be resolved between a coworker and me alone. Frankly, I think every smart manager (which I consider mine to be) would prefer this mode of operation.

When replying to her, my obvious choices are to

  1. Reply all, which includes the boss, meaning I am adding to the clutter in his inbox and just following her (in my opinion needless) precedent of CCing him (while I do not believe he wants to be on it), or

  2. Remove him from CC but my concern is then he might think I never responded to her reply.

How should I proceed in this type of situation where undue monitoring is being requested not by higer ups but actually peers and I suspect managers do not want to be involved?

  • Seems like this is more of a pet-peeve and not really an office problem unless your boss thinks it is, but hasn't been affective in stopping it. – user8365 Sep 19 '13 at 13:29
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    @JeffO I don't think he is saying it's a problem, I think he is saying he doesn't know where he stands with his replies, does he keep the boss in? does he take the boss out as its irrelevant? – Rhys Sep 19 '13 at 15:21
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    Did you ask the co-worker why they do that and ask this person to ease-off on the CC's? Rampant CC'ing creates a lot of inbox noise at best and creates opportunities for managerial over-reaction and micromanagement at worst. – Angelo Sep 19 '13 at 17:29
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    You may want to discuss this with your boss. Even if it does not annoy him, it annoys you, and it may be enough for him to ask for it to stop. – Thorbjørn Ravn Andersen Jan 14 '15 at 2:00
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I've got a co-worker who does that! This co-worker predates me at the company. I agree with you about not CCing people who aren't involved and don't need more mail filling their inbox with details they don't need, I wasn't sure why it was being done. During one of my 1:1 meetings with my manager, I asked these questions:

  1. When should I CC my manager on what I felt like were routine conversations?
  2. What should I do when someone else on my team CCs my manager on what I felt like were routine conversations that didn't need my manager's attention?
  3. What should I do when someone else who isn't on my team CCs my manager on what I felt like were routine conversations that didn't need my manager's attention?

In asking these questions, I wanted to focus the conversation on my behavior, not on my co-worker's behavior. How my co-worker behaves is between my co-worker and our manager, and unless it's getting in my way, I don't need to be involved in that conversation.

In my case, my manager told me that I didn't need to CC on routine conversations, but to feel free to do so if I felt that there was something in the conversation that my manager needed to be aware of or take action on. My manager said that if someone else made the decision to CC when I didn't feel it was necessary (regardless of whether it was on my team or not), that I could simply reply-all and not worry about it. My manager said that the delete button isn't that hard to click on.

Your manager might have different thoughts, so check. You don't know why your co-worker is doing it, and you might not ever know. I still can't explain why my co-worker does it, but I'm comfortable in knowing that it's not something that I need to worry about.

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    +1 for asking the manager, and for the quality of the manager's answers. – haylem Sep 20 '13 at 8:21
  • +1 to your manager for "the delete button isn't that hard to click on." :) – FundThmCalculus Jun 8 '17 at 13:47
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You know what your coworker is doing, but you don't know why. Is your boss interested in certain topics, and your coworker trying to keep him in the loop? Does your boss not know what your coworker does, so he's keeping the boss informed? Does the coworker think he's being ignored on stuff, and feel the need to cc the boss to get action? Are your coworker and boss in the middle of a tiff and coworker is following some rule you aren't aware of to the letter in order to get it changed? Is your coworker or their significant other with medical condition that has not been disclosed to the rest of the office, and coworker is keeping boss involved in everything in case of an emergency? Is it stuff that you think is trivial but that coworker thinks isn't?

You really don't know what's going on. You should ask your coworker what's up. If you don't feel comfortable with this, ask your boss. There may be a cery good reason for your coworker's behavior.

Whether or not to remove the boss from your reply is up to you. None of us know your relationship with your boss of how s/he will react. I've worked for bosses that are glad to be removed. I've worked for bosses who assume that I've dropped the ball if they don't see a reply and create a huge stink where it's not necessary. I've worked for managers who I bcc to let them know the issue is addressed but they're otherwise removed from the thread. Once you know why coworker is including the boss, you'll be in a far better position to know what to do about it.

  • +1 for the first paragraph. The rest could easily be omitted even, because there is no need to know. OP just needs to clarify his own handling of the situation with his boss. His coworker and their relationship with boss are not important / are nothing OP is supposed to know about. – mafu Sep 20 '15 at 15:46
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If your boss is as approachable as you make him sound approach him with the quick question of if he would like to be included in all communications of his employees. You should be able to get a feel from the response to if it is just an annoyance to him or if he likes it. As this is a question of opinion its hard to tell what a third party would think without actually asking them.

1

Such people exist in most teams. A colleague of mine will CC the VP and the entire team when the manager asks for a status update on his tasks.

If I were you I wouldn't be worried about my manager managing his work load because of a few extra emails.

Once your boss is in CC it always makes sense to keep him in the loop, in your case primarily for the reason no. 2 that you have mentioned. Mostly, it's a CYA practice many professionals these days follow. It is almost a protocol to keep all originally CC'd people in the CC even if none of the CC'd members have any contributing role to the content of the the email. It's a different thing to wonder why the CC'd people were actually CC'd.

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a) "I think every smart manager (which I consider mine to be) would prefer this mode of operation." - if you feel that your manager is not a control freak and if you suspect that he hardly takes out of his precious time to read every CC-ed email, then I see no reason why you should worry about anything at all;

b) some correspondence is really important to document - e.g. discussing major decisions, stating your specific requirements for a task, etc. This is what project management platforms are for. And a lot of them have internal messaging functionalities, so all communication would get automatically documented and accessible to your manager.

-2

CC'ing manager to all your emails is a common practice and completely normal. Although we don't realize it, all emails are serious business letters, and should be sent to boss's attention.

Plus there is no downside for you, and your boss may let her know if he/she disagrees.

  • I disagree. Emails are business issues and thus should be archived so that they can be retrieved later on when needed, but there is no need to cc every mundane detail discussion to the supervisor. – Thern May 16 '17 at 11:21
  • @Nebr, and manager decides what "mundane detail" is. As the accepted answer stated, "Your manager might have different thoughts". Most managers are ok by not to be included all emailing, thats why people think it's normal. – Hakan Erdogan May 16 '17 at 12:02
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    If I would put my boss on all emails, he would advise me to please "use my common sense" to decide which are important for him and which are not. Supervisors have the final word, that's true, but we are no mindless drones. – Thern May 16 '17 at 12:22
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    maybe it is culture-dependent but in my experience a blanket CC'ing is a symptom of something very wrong: it means that a person is not able to distinguish between trivial matter (exchange of details about a brunch) and information vital for the company (the details of a contract with a big customer that requires manager's approval/understanding). and a manager requiring that CC'ing may be a huge warning sign of micromanaging at work on full throttle! – Paolo Sep 12 '17 at 20:58
  • +1 This is certainly true. A good manager should be able to track every single details. Perfect answer. – SmallChess Sep 13 '17 at 14:15

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