I’m not even that nice

Apparently I am engaging in some sort of deviant workplace behavior.

I like to email short notes to people when they strike me as particularly awesome — and cc their boss. I never do it unless it’s sincere, but it’s not hard to find opportunities; we have a great staff and examples of well done projects or just general greatness abound. Sometimes I send the note to their boss directly, with the person I’m talking about cc’d.

It’s weird how unusual this seems to be.

Why aren’t more people doing this? It makes people feel good, it pretty much guarantees that they’ll keep up their awesomeness since everyone wants to be as cool as others think they are, they’ll be more inclined to help you out in the future, and it might inspire other people in your office to start doing the same thing, which could actually have a not insignificant impact on how nice of a place it is to work.

Seriously, send a note today to someone who you think is a rock star. Stick their boss in the cc field. If you can’t think of anyone who deserves this, send it to someone great who you deal with at another company (and then start plotting your escape from wherever you’re currently working).

{ 11 comments… read them below }

  1. bruce

    I’m ashamed to admit that this never even occurred to me. I always thank individuals in person, but this is a great idea.


  2. Evil HR Lady

    I like to do this as well. It helps that I have access to the entire organizational structure of the company so even if I don’t know someone’s boss I can look it up.

    I love it when people do the same for me.

  3. Wally Bock

    Even without the CC to the boss, thank you notes work wonders. My mother wrote three every day of her adult life. I’ve tried to emaulate that behavior. It’s amazining how much it means to others.

  4. Jimmy

    Could not disagree more strongly.

    Perhaps in a slow environment with low email overhead, it might work, but in a fast-paced office that relies on email communication, it is nonsensical.

    CC’ing someone’s boss is a despicable practice that should be banned from all sensible email etiquette. When someone does that, they immediately drop to the bottom of my correspondence folder.


    It creates more email for the boss, which is a burden. Plus it makes people think that you don’t trust them enough to get the work done, you have to CC their boss to apply psychological pressure on them to make sure they answer you.

    Also it can cause grief for that person, because when the boss sees the email they usually run over and make you drop everything and respond, even if it is a minor issue. How many non-issues are escalated in email due to this practice?

    ‘Thank you’ emails are a dime a dozen — If you want to thank someone, how much more thoughtful it would be to do so in person. Then send a followup email to the boss (only) letting them know your gratitude.

  5. Ask a Manager

    Thanks for posting, Jimmy. I’m not sure I understand your point — why would a boss run over and insist a worker respond to a thank-you email? Plus you’re saying it creates more email for the boss, which is a burden, but you later say to email the boss only. I think maybe you’re objecting to the practice of cc’ing someone’s boss on regular requests, which I’d agree with, but that’s very different than what we’ve been discussing here, which is cc’ing the boss on thank-you’s and praise.

  6. Adeline

    Would you do this even if you weren’t a manager and the note was about one of your peers?

    I ask because I feel inclined to send someone a note of praise but feel a little uncomfortable with that since we’re both on the same rung of the company ladder. I’m worried it might come off as condescending.

  7. Ask a Manager

    Adeline: Yes, absolutely! In fact, I’ve seen other people start to do it in my office lately (yay) and I’ve seen it done peer to peer without feeling condescending. Seriously, your peer will probably be really appreciative.

  8. Anonymous

    I have to completely agree with Jimmy. If I see someone copying me on a note to one of my direct reports, I assume it’s a complaint. If it’s not a complaint, I label (sometimes just mentally) the sender as insensitive and ignorant of email etiquette. A CC to me (or anyone’s boss) is just what you said, Ask A Manager: an attempt at manipulating current or future behavior, and therefore not a genuine note. If you’re thankful, it’s okay to say so in email, as long as it’s sent only to that recipient only. THEN they (or you) can forward that note to the boss. THEN it’s genuine.

  9. sarah

    so, at a new job, is it ok to send an email to the boss letting her know how helpful certain people have been so far (and NOT cc’ing the coworkers in question)? or is that seen as some form of sucking up?

  10. Shane Watson

    Honestly, I wish more people would do this. I’d be happy to have people filling my supervisor’s inbox with good news. Besides, I like keeping a folder with emails like those to help pick me up during a rough day.

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