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Study Finds Bcc'ing Your Boss at Work Is a Bad Idea

You're replying to an email at work, and decide to bcc the boss on it. You're just trying to keep the boss in the loop, but a new study reveals bcc'ing the boss on a group message could come back to bite you!

Researchers at University of Cambridge Judge Business School wanted to see how bcc'ing the boss in a work-related email -- that is, hiding the boss's name and address in the email while revealing the names and addresses of the other recipients -- made coworkers feel when they found out the boss had been bcc'ed without their knowledge. The study included nearly 700 working adults. Ooh, this is going to be good.

Bcc'ing the Boss is Bad, Bad, Bad
What did the researchers uncover? Well, for starters, our coworkers don't like it when they find out another coworker has been bcc'ing the boss on a work thread without them knowing about it. They feel a bit, shall we say, betrayed. Bcc'trayed. In fact, bcc'ing the boss could lead coworkers to see the bcc'ing employee as "less moral" and "less fit to be the team leader"! Ouch. From a University of Cambridge article:

People consider bcc'ing a supervisor as "more secretive, and more intimidating" than cc'ing the boss. And while work colleagues accept there are valid administrative reasons to bcc a supervisor (to update the boss so he or she knows a reply is not required, or avoid sharing the boss's contact information), that still doesn't cut the mustard. "Somewhat surprisingly, our results revealed that when the sender retroactively mentioned either of these two 'administrative' reasons for using bcc, recipients' negative perceptions did not soften," the article says.

In other (very American) words, everyone on the team is upset with the sneaky, little rat bastard bcc'er who can't be trusted! So how can you keep the boss in the loop while staying on the up-and-up with colleagues?

Here's What You Should Do
The ideal thing to do, the researchers summarize, is to compose an entirely new email to the boss that quickly updates him or her on developments. It's even better than cc'ing the boss on the message, apparently. Sure, it will take a few minutes to write a new email instead of simply bcc'ing the boss or forwarding an email, but it has a better chance of helping you stay on coworkers' good sides.


There's always texting and IM'ing and actually picking up the phone and calling somebody, but we're not talking about those methods of communication today. I'll bcc myself to circle back around to them sometime.


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