I’ve been noticing what is becoming a fairly regular email social pattern and it is starting to grate on me. I would like to coin it Group Email Attaboy Syndrome. The pattern is fairly simple:
A Manager sends out recent accomplishment of team to large distribution, “I would like to announce the release of version 1.2 of product Foo and thank the team for all their hard work. Especially Bob who missed the birth of his second child to fix a bug in our third release candidate. It has been a long road but we really knocked it out of the park in the end…”
This is very reasonable note to send. Usually the email is well thought out and represents a heart felt thanks to the team with praise abound. But then…
The Manager’s Manager sends out a reply to the group. “Wow. What a great release. I want to congratulate the team on a job well done. I think Bob’s dedication should be a model to this org. I definitely considering getting him some plastic or glass award plaque for his desk. This release represents the beginning of a long journey which will result in us climbing a big hill. But when we get to the top of that hill we will have a great view…”
The lead Marketing guy replies to this email with another. “Jeez we have the best R&D team ever (great extra effort Bob!). This release is going to kill the competition. Like totally smash them. We rock. You rock. Shit, all of us rock. Let’s take this to the next level!!!!!!!!!!!!”
The head sales guy adds to the thread. “This release is going have a huge impact on our 4 bagillion dollar deal pending at Acme Co. I’m going to buy all you guys cross pens when it closes. There is no stopping us now!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! ** this email was sent from my wireless blackberry ** ”
Another random manager adds, “Well done everybody. Good solid work. Now let’s focus on release 1.3.”
You get the idea. This can go on for days. You know you have seen this before. Swap in a few different platitudes, vary the number of explanation points, and I bet it matches exactly one you have seen before. To come totally clean, I can’t say for sure I haven’t been involved in one before (no reason to dredge up old threads to show me…I would rather live in denial).
To me the added replies say “I took 10 to 15 seconds out of my day to hit the reply button and bang on my keyboard.” It isn’t that I want them to send flowers, but the trite reply seems almost insulting. Kind of like if your company gave you a $40 bonus after a 6 month project that you killed yourself completing. It’s not that I don’t value $40 but offering it as a bonus to 6 months of hard work is just kind of insulting. In the end I’m not looking for much more, just something that represents more of an investment. The equivalent to taking the time to go track somebody down and say good job. This can be done over email but it needs more than 10 seconds from a blackberry. Something more like “This morning I logged on to version 1.2 and feature X, Y, and Z are amazing. I particularly like how you save setting X so I don’t have to reapply it next time I return to the screen. I think we really pulled off something great. I’m impressed with how we were able to build such an interactive interface in a browser. I’m excited to see more of this in future versions.”
Am I just getting old and cranky?