54

Late yesterday I recieved an email, it basically went like this

From : My Boss's boss's Boss

To: HR Director

CC: Jim, Joe, Bob, Sidney


HR Directory,

The following is my list of names for promotion

  • Jim,

  • Joe,

  • Bob,

  • Sidney

Thanks,

My Boss's Boss's Boss

This seems like something I would probably be informed of at my next eval, not a rather informal email from someone a couple levels of management above me (I'm thinking the subjects of the email were CC'd by mistake). Given the size of our company, formal changes in your position are always done with at least two members of management present. This wasn't CC'd to my direct lead (or Jim's, Joe's, or Bob's), so I'm hesitant to ask them about this, but I'm really not sure how to respond to this or if I should just ignore it until I'm told about it in a meeting.

  • 18
    the email itself documents that you were notified. To tell someone would be redundant, especially if the CC was intentional. – mcknz Feb 9 '17 at 19:19
  • 4
    Your name might just be padding for the list. The "decision" has already been made and you're not actually being considered. – user15729 Feb 9 '17 at 22:00
  • 8
    One thing. It is worth of noticing that's it's pretty hard to add a list of CCs by mistake, unless one uses some "smart" system which recognizes that A, B, C, D were mentioned in the body and asks to add them to CCs, and wouldn't pay attention. So it looks like an intention, or a little bigger leak (than one accidental person). – luk32 Feb 10 '17 at 2:40
  • 22
    @luk32 - Unless the writer was using CCs to make sure to get people's names right. I've temporarily added people to an email to check their spelling, myself. If the writer then forgot to actually remove them... – Bobson Feb 10 '17 at 4:05
  • 4
    Just ignore it. If it was sent to you on purpose, it was only a CC, so no reply is expected. If it wasn't, you're sort of expected to ignore/delete the mail. I once accidentally was CC'd an email in which my prospective boss discussed his evaluation of my skills with his superior. I decided to ignore it (especially as it mentioned another applicant too). Didn't stop me from getting the job in the end. – Llewellyn Feb 10 '17 at 19:28
126

Here's an alternative to Philip Kendall's excellent suggestion:

Do nothing.

Don't tell anyone (at work or at home). Wait and see if you are in fact promoted.

Normally notifying the sender about an accidental CC is a good idea, but what (other than possibly embarrassing your great-grand-boss) will you accomplish?

  • 15
    I totally agree I see no need to mention anything to anyone. – Kilisi Feb 9 '17 at 20:12
  • 33
    My general rule of thumb when writing an email... if I want a response, I make sure there's a question in there (ie: something that ends with a question mark). If there is no question, then you have not been prompted to respond. – Lindsey D Feb 9 '17 at 22:05
  • 19
    I'm torn on this answer. Depending on the office culture, it might be the prudent choice, but I disagree that politely letting the sender know you saw the email (as long as you're careful not to imply you take it as proof you're going to be promoted) doesn't accomplish anything. It 1) shows that you're honest, and 2) gives the sender a chance to do something if they made mistake, which could potentially cause a bigger issue if nobody lets them know! – Kevin - Reinstate Monica Feb 9 '17 at 22:48
  • 4
    A reason to do something is that everybody can see you received the email because your name appears in the CC. So in case it was an error and you do nothing, you open yourself up for questions about why you didn't react. So while it is entirely possible you are an intended recipient (many names in the CC of the same context) - doing nothing can be risky. – Allan S. Hansen Feb 10 '17 at 7:29
  • 5
    There's no appropriate response to this. Therefore, do nothing. – Umopepisdn Feb 10 '17 at 17:10
47

Just politely let them know they may have made a mistake. Mail your uber-boss (and nobody else!) with something like

Did you mean to include me on this mail at this stage?

Thanks,

Sidney

You'll either get a reply of "Yes" in which case, happy days :-) or "No, thanks for letting me know" and a slightly embarrassed uber-boss. Under no circumstances mention anything you learned from the mail until it's been confirmed that you're meant to know the information at this stage.

And congratulations on your upcoming promotion!

  • 1
    In just a couple minutes before me. +1 for hitting all the points I did! – Anoplexian - Reinstate Monica Feb 9 '17 at 17:47
  • 24
    If it was CCed to all four names of its list, it seems it was intentional. – enderland Feb 10 '17 at 1:31
  • @enderland "This wasn't CC'd to my direct lead (or Jim's, Joe's, or Bob's)," - OP – Pierre Arlaud Feb 10 '17 at 10:44
  • 10
    @PierreArlaud it was CC'ed to all four people who were on the list of promotions. That seems unlikely to have been accidental. – enderland Feb 10 '17 at 14:00
  • 1
    @enderland You would think that but I know some Managers who add the names to the CC field to ensure they spell the names correctly. Then they simply forgot to remove them. – Halfwarr Feb 10 '17 at 16:55
16

I'd just write

Dear BossName

that's great news. Thanks for letting me know.

with kind regards

Sidney

  • 13
    Where I am in the world that would be taken very badly. If you are CC'd it is merely a notification without a requirement nor want to a response. If you are in the To: it is implied you reply, if even just to acknowledge receipt. – The Wandering Coder Feb 10 '17 at 7:36
  • 11
    @TheWanderingCoder: How odd. To me this seems like a culture where people disrespect each other and deny their agency to decide if they have something they wish to say in response or not. Where I am, a CC means the sender isn't sitting and waiting for a response, but if the recipient wants to respond it's completely legitimate. To CC means you want the person to know what was being said; to be uninterested in their opinion on the matter is rude. – Meni Rosenfeld Feb 10 '17 at 10:21
  • 8
    Anyway, Mark's suggestion seems perfect to me. If the sending was intentional, you show your appreciation. If it was accidental, you let the sender know you received it without embarrassing him too much. The sender could also "retroactively" decide that it was intentional. – Meni Rosenfeld Feb 10 '17 at 10:24
  • 3
    The CC actually includes all people being to be promoted. That doesn't seem accidental, and even if it were, it involves more people than you. Therefore, if it were a mistake, whatever you do is going to be diluted in the group response. – Pere Feb 11 '17 at 10:17
  • 1
    @MeniRosenfeld Currently I work in Japan, and the rules about who to contact and when are very strict. It isn't "disrespectful" as you put it, just a different culture and a different working style. No where did I claim that to be included as a CC means disinterest, rather it is taken as a courtesy to inform, not seek input. Whilst this may be rude where you are in the world, bear in mind other cultures treat situations differently to what your culture may do. I personally would not respond to this email, as it is not addressed to me. – The Wandering Coder Feb 13 '17 at 0:20
13

E-mail them and ask them if you should be added on the e-mail. There's only two options they would have to add you on the e-mail: purposefully or by mistake.

Sending an e-mail to clarify whether or not you should be on the chain would be seen as just that, clarification. If you weren't meant to be added, you're letting them know that you've been added incorrectly, and they can remedy it. It'd be worse for you if you weren't supposed to be added, and didn't tell anyone as it might be seen as a lack of integrity.

If you were supposed to be added, they'll let you know, and congratulations! It may be a case that the promotion is to a new position that has nothing to do with your current leads, such as a different department, or above them.

If it were me, I'd send something like this

Hello [Boss', boss', boss],

I was just curious as to whether you meant to send this to me. Was this meant for me?

[Name]

This will send the message that you have integrity and discretion with e-mails, and could help to promote (pun intended) you in a good light in the future.

  • 2
    It's hard to imagine what sort of "review" would be appropriate for the OP to perform under these circumstances, so this response is (at best) confusing. – Lightness Races with Monica Feb 11 '17 at 14:44
0

Manually move the email to your spam folder and permanently put it out of your mind.

  • No drama is created over notifying people of something you "aren't supposed to know".
  • You have plausible deniability. Even if they care enough and are able to prove you moved it to spam by hand, claim that you never read it since it obviously wasn't meant for you. Vanishingly unlikely this would happen, as if it is that important, they would not want to give you any more reason to remember its contents.
  • 5
    He doesn't need 'plausible deniability', or to claim he never read it. The fault if any is the sender's, nobody else's. Answer is pointless. – user207421 Feb 10 '17 at 23:31
  • @EJP: In a world where social interactions are filled with subtlety, just loudly declaring "it was their fault" then stomping around regardless is what is pointless. – Lightness Races with Monica Feb 11 '17 at 14:46
  • 7
    Do not move it in your spam folder. Some mail providers or configurations will learn the content of spam folders to detect future spam… – Jonas Schäfer Feb 11 '17 at 17:40
  • I took "spam" out and replaced it with delete - I hope thats what wberry meant. – gburton Feb 12 '17 at 12:29

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