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Submitted by superjac on


I work in a pretty flat organization. In fact it was very flat until I was hired as Ops Director, so it goes the president > me > half the company.

I'm not sure if it is out of habit or what, but 90% of the emails I get are also copied to the president. Maybe they assume that I will discuss every decision with him, but I am getting annoyed to the point that I'm taking it personally as if they are sending a note home to my mom with each email.

The president, who I deeply wish would write back, "I think your manager can handle this," instead provides some advice with comments like, "I'm not sure what the big deal is here" or "Why can't we work this out?" and "just do XXXX. It should be simple."

So today I wrote him back (he is out of town), that I was sorry we bothered him, and I was sure my team could handle it without escalating it further. His reply: :"If you don't need my help then don't copy me."

So now what? I don't need his help. Unless that help would be to tell my subs to stop emailing him. Can I do this? Can I tell them to stop emailing him? How will that come across?


ashdenver's picture

If it were me, I would have a chat with my team - regardless of how big the team is.  Whether you do it in a group setting (safety in numbers, from their perspective) or in O3s (more intimate, feeling of confidentiality) is up to you - you know your team best.  But I think it would be important to find out first WHY they're doing it.  Do they not trust you?  Is it a habit?  Do they see the impact of their actions (roping the president in on every flippin' thing)?  What are they hoping to accomplish?  Then I'd move into a realm that more clearly defines "hey, WE are a team - we all still work for the president but he's a busy guy - which is why I'm here."  Help them see that they're hurting the team and the company by oveloading the big boss unnecessarily.  Pump up the morale with "we can solve anything together - go us!" 

Before you tell them "stop doing that" I would want to know why they're doing it.  Have them explain themselves first to see if maybe they're seeing something you're not.  Maybe there was a crucial faux pas you made early in the game so the cc-s are their way of making sure things don't get lost in the shuffle.  If that's the case, make it clear that you want to be held accountable - directly and professionally, by them.  "Come to me if you think I've dropped the ball."  Or "It's great that you're so interested in the results of this project; I'd like you to take the lead on this - give me status reports regularly and we'll review progress together every week."  

Overall, the feedback model is perfectly suited for something like this.  "When you copy the president, here is the result: it undermines my ability to keep the group focused, it unduly burdens the president, it casts you in an unprofessional light.  What could you do differently next time?"

DiSC profile: 7-2-1-5

dresouza's picture
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The emails likely slow the boss down.  Not good.  Most emails are about work in progress rather than finished products that you want to take to the higher level.  False starts slow progress.  Again, not good. 

I would start from those points and work through it with feedback and O3s.  I wouldn't give the comments in a group setting because email isn't a group activity.  Use the feedback model. 

Hey can I give you some feedback, Bob?

I noticed you copied our boss on the last set of emails.

When you send unnecessary emails up to her level it slows her down and that's bad for all of us. 

How would you do it differently?

The feed back for copying half-baked ideas would look similar.  It sounds like you are in a new structure and a new system.  Work through it cheerfully.  Because there is a new system, you have a job that you are enthusiastic to do.  That is a good thing.

Run with it.





mrstevegross's picture
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Maybe your team doesn't understand the nature of communication between you and the president. They wonder: "Is Superjac talking to the president at all? Maybe he isn't!" As a result, they cc him on everything to make sure he's in the loop.


So my question is this: What efforts are YOU making to make sure your team knows the level of communication between you and the president? Can you assess how well/badly your team understands this communication?