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26 May 2011

Dealing with Co-workers Who Copy Bosses on Emails

As a result of my post, Dealing with Bosses Who Manage by Email, a reader’s email wanted to know what to do about co-workers who copy their bosses on emails to you. There are two perspectives to keep in mind:

  1. For some reason your co-worker believes it’s important to copy the boss
  2. Under no circumstances should you assume you know the reason

In general, a co-worker will copy the boss for one or both of the following general reasons:

  1. He wants to.
  2. He feels compelled to.

For instance, he might want his boss to know that he sent the email, or his boss might have told him to copy him regularly. Even if his boss didn’t say anything to him, the co-worker might be interpreting something about the company’s culture that encourages him to do this.

Again, the general approach if a co-worker is doing something you dislike is to ask him why he’s doing it. There might be a solution. For instance, if he needs to document his requests, he can file them rather than copy bosses. Even if there isn’t a solution, the reason could help you learn something about your boss, the company and your co-worker. However, it’s important to ask in a non-accusatory manner. That’s why you don’t want to presume you know the reason. It could upset you and make asking challenging.

Regardless of whether there is a solution, ask your co-worker if he would stop realizing of course that he might not comply. Still, it’s important that he knows you are aware of what he’s doing. On the other hand, he might comply simply because you asked. This is why it’s important to develop good relationships with all your co-workers, so you can leverage them when you need.

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