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This keeps running through my head.

On at least 3 occasions in the last month, my line manager (LM) has taken my emails to him (where I'm explaining strategy, opportunities and a potential way forward) and changed my signature to his own before forwarding to our CEO (his LM). He sends these without me in CC and I see this almost by chance, when an email chain comes back my way.

Does this guy really have my back?

What is the best way forward:

  • «please keep me in CC so I can fully understand what’s next»
  • « put the CEO in cc when I email him some strategic material »
  • « let it go? »

Is this normal, or is he really insecure, and should I confront him?

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  • 2
    Ask him in your one on ones if your suggestions will be reflected in your annual review Mar 9 '20 at 6:54
  • Flip side: with a copy/paste job, at least you are being quoted accurately. And with your manager signing for it, if anything goes wrong or gets lost in translation, you don't get blamed. Imagine (hypothetical, naturally) reporting to someone who would rephrase everything you wanted to pass up the chain, but misstated details, while attributing them to you. . .
    – Pete W
    Mar 22 at 22:01
  • Also, another possibility, there's a chance your ideas would not be taken seriously if they appeared to originate from too low a level
    – Pete W
    Mar 22 at 22:08
  • If you want to be a bit more subtle, use BCC (not CC) to send a copy of your emails to the CEO. That way your boss doesn't know.
    – Simon B
    Mar 24 at 12:33
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This is pretty normal

Work is not an academic environment. When they say "you are doing work for hire" they mean it; it's not "yours" in any sense. The CEO asked your boss to have someone get him some strategy. He chooses you and says "give me some strategy." You send it to him, and he sends it to the CEO. That's pretty normal.

He doesn't want the CEO going directly to you for clarification as it's his role to provide that for his organization. He also doesn't want the CEO to start playing favorites with info he sends him because "Well the last one from PJHar was wrong, now I have one from PJHar, maybe I'll start bothering that manager about reassigning it..."

Your boss is saying "I on behalf of my org is providing you this information." That's a perfectly normal policy. The fact that he is able to forward your work on nearly unchanged means you're doing a really good job. In some cases he is probably altering it, synthesizing it with something another analyst contributed etc. The CEO knows he's not doing it all personally.

Getting recognition

However, you do want to make sure you're getting recognition, as part of your ability to improve your career over time. Your boss is valuing you because of what you're providing, but it is fair to want the CEO to maybe know you are the one coming up with a bunch of this good stuff.

Depending on whether you get to interact with both these folks at any time, you can let him know "subtly"... "Hey, glad to see execution around that that strategy around XXX paid off, I worked really hard on that, good work CEO and boss!"

You can also talk to your boss in 1-1s and career planning meetings about "raising your visibility" and "getting exposure across the organization," which are management code words for wanting more folks to know what you're doing. "I'd love opportunities to preset sometime to the C suite," etc. It's entirely possible that he tells the CEO every time they are talking team stuff that "PJHar is my star strategist;" don't assume that he is doing you dirty without any reason. Of course if he is continuously resistant to that then you'll want to try to work around it.

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  • 9
    This answer puts the boss in a very positive light... perhaps the boss is totally useless and the op should be looking for promotion.
    – Solar Mike
    Mar 8 '20 at 5:50
  • 6
    "good work. CEO" is something that I would avoid saying.
    – gnasher729
    Mar 8 '20 at 18:35
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Red Flag

If the boss is forwarding your email word-for-word and signing it off as their own, this seems like a red flag.

The boss could have prefaced the email to the CEO as follows: “Please take a look at the following strategy, which my team worked on.”

Writing your own name under someone else’s work is not okay, even if you are their boss. The boss is not the author of that analysis and should not pass it on as if they wrote it.

I would consider this a red flag worthy of further investigation. Whether it indicates a problem has to be determined from other interactions with the boss, especially mutual interactions with the CEO.

Two Possibilities

On the one hand, it could be that the boss did not think about the ethical implications or simply believes that what they are doing is okay. In that case, I would expect that the boss would let you know that they value your work, e.g., in one-on-one meetings. If you have reassurance from your boss that they value your work, and if it shows in your annual review, then all is good.

On the other hand, it could be that the boss only cares about his image in the eyes of the CEO, at the expense of his/her subordinates. I.e., (s)he is trying to take credit, and to create the impression that (s)he is doing all the work. In case you have any mutual meetings with the CEO, this can be easier to determine. If you pitch an idea or suggestion during such a meeting, does (s)he try to take credit for it in some way?

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He has assigned something to you and when he gets it, he owns it while forwarding to the boss. In a case some responsibility has to be owned in result of that email etc it will be him too. It is absolutely a non-issue.

If he is stealing something from your work thats another story.

Lets say at the end of the day when there will be performance appraisal will he suggest to fire you? No he will definitely be appreciative of you as you are a helping hand for him. You will be recognized for your work come what may and your top bosses will also known one way or the other who is doing what.

They are also experienced in the business they are running. Nothing goes unnoticed.

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When some discussion starts in the topic, you may reply-to-all something like this: "anyone interested in background information, feel free to ask me (I was the one preparing the info for Mr/Ms LM)."

  • If your LM does not upset, his soul is clean. Maybe he will take more care from now to mention colleagues' work.
  • If he upsets, it's a sign that he knows, he's been caught.

I've used the word "preparing", this sonds less offensive, less selfish than "I was the one wrote the email".

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