This bad email habit might be making your team hate you

 
Emma Haslett
Follow Emma
A protester holds a paper plane during a
Keep things one-on-one to foster trust, the study suggested (Source: Getty)

Do you copy the higher-ups into emails to your team on a regular basis? Don't, a new study has suggested. It might be making your team hate you.

The study, by David De Cremer from Cambridge Judge Business School, found ccing in bosses can erode faith between co-workers and foster a "culture of fear and low psychological safety".

In an article in the Harvard Business Review, De Cremer said the more often superiors are included in emails, the less trusted co-workers feel.

A team presented 594 workers with various scenarios in which they were always, sometimes or never copied in with their bosses. They found the situations in which the supervisor was always copied in made people feel "trusted significantly less".

The article also warned bosses they should beware of apps such as Slack "carrying trust issues".

"The implication of these findings is that companies and other organisations need to be aware that electronic transparency, no matter how well-intentioned, is not a ‘Holy Grail’ of efficiency or harmony," said De Cremer.

"Too often, transparency is seen as an end in itself, but these studies show that including supervisors can make employees suspicious and prove counterproductive."

Read more: Avoid being a spam-bot with this guide to email etiquette

Be a better emailer: How not to alienate your team

1. Have a ccing policy

In some cases employees might be copying in bosses to get a broader perspective - but more often, it's not innocent, De Cremer says. He suggests managers "may need to proactively articulate policy on including superiors in office email communications".

2. There is such a thing as too much transparency

Transparency has been a buzzword for several years now, but De Cremer says it's not necessarily the "'Holy Grail' of efficiency or harmony".

3. Beware of Slack

Collaboration tools like Slack may have revolutionised office life, but can still "carry trust issues", De Cremer says - although he adds the expectation of privacy is "arguably lower than for emails".

Related articles