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BLUF:  When is it ok (i.e. not unprofessional) to cc someone's manager on a follow-up email?  

I'm remote from all of my peers and their directs.  I need another manager (a direct of one of my peers) to follow-up on some issues that were escalated to him & his team.  I have exchanged emails with him previously on some of these issues; some were resolved, but some remain open, and new ones have since been escalated.  
 
I now need to follow-up with him again, and I'm considering cc'ing his Director (my peer) on the message, as well.  However, I don't want to be perceived as "throwing him under the bus."  Any opinions on this?  
 
Wondering if I'm overthinking this, as well (yes; I'm a high C).  
 
Thank you.  

TomW's picture

Never. OK, maybe not never: only if the manager has been CC'd on the entire thread the whole time.

If you need to talk to the person about something not being done, pick up the phone. If you need to talk to their manager about something not being done, pick up the phone.

BrianT's picture

Yes; talking through it, I agree.  

Interesting permutation of this scenario though:  I've seen people cc their own managers when replying back to me.  From that point, I'll typically use 'reply all'.  Then, I've seen people burn themselves because they failed to follow-up, even after *they* added their manager to the email thread.  

afmoffa's picture

I agree with TomW and with the spirit in which you posted the question. Just CC'ing the manager of someone with whom you're in conflict is a no-no. Be sparing and judicious about CC'ing someone's boss, even if the matter is urgent or the behavior seems egregious.

Mark and Mike hate sentences that start with "Be judicious," so here's an action and a metric:

If you put Bob's manager in the CC line, then paragraph two of your E-mail should have the sentence "Jane, I'm CC'ing you on this discussion because...." Starting the second paragraph like that will do two things:
1. Common courtesy to Jane and to Bob. Jane will know why you're roping her into the conversation. Bob will know that his boss is clued in. (Hey, not everyone pays attention to cc fields, as Briant notes up above.)
2. If you can articulate a solid, results-oriented reason for CC'ing the boss, chances are you're right to CC her. If you struggle to articulate a reason, or if all you've got is "Jane, I'm CC'ing you on this discussion because Bob is dragging his feet and you're his boss," then don't CC the boss. Call Bob, and if Bob still doesn't get you the results you need, then you call your boss. (Your boss might be Jane, but even so, call her because she's your boss, not because she's also Bob's boss.)

royd's picture

Short answer is it counter productive to cc his manager. In similar situations I have phoned the person up (not first choice for me as I am a high C) and asked what is holding the progress up, is  there is anything I can do to help. If it is a matter of competing prirorities for his time I have offered to talk to his boss to help to free up some resources so he can get the job done for me.

If they are all remote is it possible to meet up to start building a better relationship with that team ?

Roy

royd's picture

Short answer is it counter productive to cc his manager. In similar situations I have phoned the person up (not first choice for me as I am a high C) and asked what is holding the progress up, is  there is anything I can do to help. If it is a matter of competing prirorities for his time I have offered to talk to his boss to help to free up some resources so he can get the job done for me.

If they are all remote is it possible to meet up to start building a better relationship with that team ?

Roy

stephenbooth_uk's picture

 I think the main times you'd CC someone's manager in is if they are already involved.  For example you contact a peer to say you need someone with a particular skill set for a task.  They tell you that their direct Bob has that skill set so you drop Bob an email to set up a time to talk about the assignment and give them some background documents you expect them to read before the meeting (this is how tasks are often assigned where I work).  As a result of this your peer knows that you have contacted Bob and Bob knows that his boss is aware of this request.  Depending on the conversation you had with your peer and how recent it was you may or may not include a paragraph as described by AFMOFFA.

If Bob then fails to show up or fails to deliver then it would usually be better to talk direct to your peer than to copy them in on an email where you let rip at Bob.

In general CC should be used where someone needs to be aware of the information in the email, or at least that the email has been sent as it affects them, but no action is required of them.  If you use RACI classification for stakeholder management this is the I group.

CC generally should not be used where there is conversation via email, if the person needs to be informed send them a summary once the conversation is over and/or at key decision points.  This of course presumes that the conversation cannot realistically be had face to face or by phone.

 Stephen

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Skype: stephenbooth_uk  | DiSC: 6137

"Start with the customer and work backwards, not with the tools and work forwards" - James Womack

 

patryk's picture

Could you use a pre-wire in this case? Explain that you have a deliverable and that you may have to explain why certain things are not getting accomplished... or would that be seen at threatening?