Carbon paper fascinated me when I was younger. Write once, get two copies. What a great invention and work tool, I thought.
Then came e-mail, and making carbon copies of important notes and messages got even easier. So effortless, in fact, that CC has become one of the most abused office tools today.
There've been one too many times when I've been CCed in e-mail messages outlining issues I had no direct involvement in, or when I've seen names in the CC list that I didn't even recognize or had me scratching my head over their role in the issues outlined.
What does CC mean? Carbon copy, as most would say, while others would coin it "courtesy copy". Courtesy is very apt here, I think, because I deem it obscenely rude to use CC to jam somebody's inbox with irrelevant and inconsequential messages that reek of political innuendoes.
For some, CC has become a way to discreetly--or not--inform bosses and co-workers that they've done their part and that they're doing real work.
The deployment of CC at times also demonstrates the paranoia infesting in some who believe they need to be CCed in every little mail and every little note, regardless of whether their involvement is needed, because, well, knowing is power, isn't it?
Personally, I use CC to serve two primary functions. First, to "FYI" someone and keep them updated about an issue or project that they want to be informed about or that they're directly involved in, in some way or another. I also use CC to "pass the baton", so to speak. When I receive an e-mail requesting assistance in an area that doesn't fall under my purview, I'd reply and CC the right person who's able to handle the query...and I pass on the baton.
I'm a pretty pragmatic person when it comes to work. I'm result-oriented. I need to get a job done and if there are bottlenecks that cannot be easily resolved, I'll work around the bottlenecks so the job will get done.
I try not to play the blame game because it wastes time and I'd rather lift my finger to help get the job done, than point it at the person who's holding up the project.
So when it comes to e-mail and the whole CCing business, my objective is straightforward. If your involvement is not necessary in a particular project, I'm not gonna spam your inbox and have you read through a string of messages discussing issues that you have no use for and have no clue about.
Bluntly put, because I'm a blunt person, what is the ROI (returns on investment) when I CC someone in an e-mail?
Sure, if someone wants to be CCed in an e-mail, I can do that... It's easy enough to type someone's name in the CC list and I type fast--as my respectable score in Typing Maniac would attest to. But, I would first ask, what is the value of that name and the returns it will provide in helping to get the job done?
If used correctly, CC can be an extremely useful office productivity tool. But it should be deployed to help push through, not impede, business processes and tasks. Neither should it be used as a personal insurance policy for the workplace.