Your CC Emails Aren’t Being Read!

One of my clients recently told me that they came back from holiday to 1800 emails! I thought: how can anyone be that busy, until she told me that the culture there was that everyone copied everyone into everything (almost)! I expect someone years ago from high up realised that there had been a few comms mistakes and mandated that everyone is copied more regularly. That person probably doesn't even work there any more but the practice continues!

But here's the thing: Emails have become so saturated in volume over recent years that CC emails are probably rarely read in their entirety anyway. If I'm busy with emails that are directly for me why am I going to waste my time ploughing through CC stuff that may be nice to know rather than need to know?

I think we probably routinely CC people for various reasons ;

  • As above - the culture of the organisation
  • It's 'For their info' - thought they might want to know
  • I pull people into email chains for political reasons
  • I don't trust the person I'm directly emailing so I CC others
  • I want my boss to know I'm busy/doing stuff!

The problem with being CCd though is that I may have been copied down the line of an email chain where I don't understand the backstory and things now get a bit confusing. I'm forced to do more work to understand context, anything required from me etc. CC is probably therefore mostly annoying to others when not used correctly.

So here's four tips:

  • Tell the person in the email why you have CC'd them in or at least tell everyone why they are on the CC line
  • If someone needs to know something why not just cut and paste the stuff relevant only to them and send them that
  • Routinely CC'ing the boss is annoying/time-consuming for them - better that they get a brief summary email written to them once the various email chains with everyone else have run their course. Alternatively, how about a daily/weekly short update email from you. CCing your boss can undermine your credibility and influence with others. It smacks of "I know you won't do it if I ask so I'm copying my boss to encourage you!"
  • If you are getting lots of CC emails from one person, speak to them about only including you for 'must know' or using the 'To' line if they require something of you,

And don't get me started on the awful BCC email......…