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Give Advice to Subordinates • Example Letters and Guides

Guides

Keep your tone helpful and be careful of appearing judgmental. If the topic is a sensitive one, consider reordering your approach. For example, stating the problem first may put an employee on the defensive. If this is the case, outline the evidence and your advice before pointing out the problem.

How to write this advice letter:

  1. Explain why you are writing and summarize the problem or situation.
  2. Give your advice, being as specific as possible.
  3. If appropriate, include evidence to convince the reader of your opinion.
  4. Make it easy for the reader to respond to your advice.

Example Letter #1

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Mr. Doe has commented to me several times in the last month about employees playing games on the computers. This is not an efficient use of company time, or of the new office network.

I know that the games are usually played while you are waiting for important information, but there is no excuse for playing computer games on company time. Therefore I must request that you avoid the games altogether while at work. I believe if we do this we will see a rise in productivity. Please call me in my office if you have feedback for me regarding this matter.

Example Letter #2

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Our company policy requires employees to wear appropriate business attire during business hours. We recommend comfortable attire, including a dress shirt and tie for men and a skirt, dress, or nice slacks for women. Please omit tattered jeans and jogging shoes from your business wardrobe.

Example Letter #3

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I would like to pass on the concern I feel regarding employees who consistently arrive late for work. While I realize that traffic in the morning is heavier due to highway construction, it is still important for staff to be in their offices ready to begin work at 9:00 a.m. I know that it may require extra effort, but punctuality is an important element of customer service.

We appreciate the dedication and hard work that all the members of our staff give, and hope that this problem can be nipped in the bud before it becomes serious. If you have suggestions regarding measures we can take as a company to ease the challenges caused by increased traffic problems, please bring them to our next staff meeting for discussion.

Example Letter #4

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You have asked for my advice regarding the conflict and misunderstanding between you and John Doe. Differences in personality can create very strained relations in an office. I realize that you have tried to discuss your differences with John, without success.

I appreciate your concern and your efforts to resolve the problem. I plan to meet with John this afternoon to discuss the situation. Then, if I consider it appropriate, I will arrange a time when the three of us can get together, clear the air, and find a way for everyone to be able to work together.

Again, I want to express appreciation for your concern and your desire to establish a more congenial relationship. I will speak to you further about the matter after John and I have met.

Example Letter #5

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I am rather concerned about the amount of time you are spending on private telephone calls during working hours. As you know, the company does not place arbitrary limits on private telephone use, but we do ask our employees to use their best judgment in such matters.

While you are at work, your time and attention should be focused on your job and used in the best interests of the company. Please keep private calls to a minimum, restricting them so far as possible to your lunch and break times.

If you have any questions regarding this, or would like to discuss the situation, please feel free to come talk with me.

Example Letter #6

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Thank you for asking my advice relating to the problem with John Doe. I must agree that the situation is a difficult one.

I suggest that you start off by speaking to the entire group about the problem without singling out one individual. If that has the desired result, you need take no further action, but if Mr. Doe persists in this behavior, you will then be able to speak to him privately, reminding him of what you said previously. This way, you will still have the option of using the grievance process later if it becomes necessary, but you will have at least tried to minimize confrontation between the coworkers. In any case, I am confident that you will be able to handle the problem with tact and diplomacy!

Write Your Letter Step-by-Step

1 Explain why you are writing and summarize the problem or situation.

Sentences for Step 1
  • You have been a great asset to the company. You are one of our most efficient and productive employees. But I am concerned about some complaints we have received recently. Some customers have described you as rude or annoyed when you respond to their questions.
  • I'm flattered that you asked for my opinion. I faced a similar problem with management in my department a few years ago and that experience taught me to approach my manager differently.
  • This is a good time to reemphasize the importance of looking professional on the job. It is amazing how much of an impact something as small as a tie can make on a prospective client.
  • Although the situation seems to be improving, we continue to have friction between the editors and the typesetters. The conflicts seem to result from poor communication between the two groups.
  • We recognize that sometimes a worker has a good reason for being late, but recently we have noticed an increase in tardiness in several departments.
Phrases for Step 1
  • a trend towards
  • affect all of us periodically
  • appreciate your involvement in
  • asked for my opinion about
  • can have a considerable impact on
  • continue to have difficulties with
  • don't always realize
  • faced a similar problem
  • have recently received complaints about
  • have seen some improvement, but
  • have recently noticed
  • have given careful consideration to
  • let you know that
  • may seem a small matter
  • no one objects to an occasional
  • one of our most valuable
  • problem appears to be
  • seem to be the result of
  • something as small as
  • the concerns you raised
  • this is a good time to

2 Give your advice, being as specific as possible.

Sentences for Step 2
  • I suggest you make a special effort to show courtesy to all our customers.
  • You may want to approach him with both of these options and allow him to choose one after you have explained the implications of each.
  • It is in your best interest to look over your benefits package again. You may have overlooked some benefits to which you are entitled.
  • I don't know enough to make a fair judgment about your division; however, from what you have told me, it would seem that your first reaction is right. As much as we dislike taking such action, staff reduction may be the only long-term solution.
  • While the informal atmosphere in the office defines what is acceptable here, casual dress outside the office may be offensive to a potential client. I would advise you to avoid denim, especially old jeans, and wear an ironed shirt and tie.
  • I suggest each of you make a special effort to notify the others of schedules and deadlines.
Phrases for Step 2
  • could give a better impression
  • from what you have told me
  • is important for you to
  • it is difficult to
  • it would seem that
  • keep a lookout for
  • make some changes in
  • make an extra effort to
  • make the effort to
  • make a special effort to
  • make allowances for
  • may want to approach
  • may have overlooked
  • may be more acceptable
  • may be offensive to
  • may be the only solution
  • might want to consider
  • personally know that
  • recommend that you
  • send a more positive message
  • show substantial improvement in
  • something as simple as
  • suggest that each of you
  • suggest that you
  • take a minute to
  • to clarify the situation
  • to make a fair judgment
  • watch out for
  • would be in your best interests to

3 If appropriate, include evidence to convince the reader of your opinion.

Sentences for Step 3
  • Clients easily approach a representative who has a clean, crisp appearance, and people generally are more likely to trust someone who takes care of his or her appearance.
  • In addition to speeding up the publication process, knowing schedules and deadlines would prevent many of the problems you are experiencing now. This is a stressful job and any change that produces a smoother process helps a great deal.
  • From our experience, we have seen how overall performance and efficiency are significantly improved when employees take their jobs seriously enough to get to work on time.
  • When we reduced tardiness in my department, individual employee output increased significantly.
Phrases for Step 3
  • all the data indicate that
  • experience shows that
  • difficult for you at first, but
  • is frequently interpreted as
  • from my own experience
  • have learned that
  • helps a great deal
  • ideas are right in line with
  • will improve services to
  • in my own department
  • led to significant increases in
  • can make a big difference to
  • makes life easier
  • has done wonders in the past
  • overall performance and efficiency
  • people tend to trust someone who
  • was significantly lowered by
  • should solve the problem
  • someone pleasing in appearance
  • sometimes it takes a little time
  • speeding up the process
  • the problem can be eliminated
  • these improvements will ensure
  • this would prevent
  • will pay off in the long run

4 Make it easy for the reader to respond to your advice.

Sentences for Step 4
  • If you have any questions about your benefits package, contact John Doe, the director of personnel services. You can mail him your concerns or meet with him in person, if you prefer. You can make an appointment with his secretary, Ms. Johnson, at 555-5555, ext. 123.
  • If you'd like to discuss this further before making a final decision, let's do it over lunch some time this week. I'm happy to be of help. Call me (555-5555) and we'll set a time.
  • If you feel that your problems extend beyond this, such as to personality conflicts, let me know. I want to help in any way I can.
  • I hope you find my experience useful. Feel free to give me a call if you would like to discuss the matter further.
  • If you have any other concerns that I can help with, let me know.
Phrases for Step 4
  • any questions or concerns
  • before making a final decision
  • call me at
  • don't hesitate to
  • e-mail address is
  • feel free to
  • give me a call
  • happy to meet with
  • help in any way we can
  • if you have
  • if there is a problem
  • if there's anything I need to know
  • if you would prefer
  • if you feel that
  • if you would like
  • let me know
  • make an appointment with
  • please contact
  • to discuss the matter further
  • to discuss this further
  • will be happy to be
  • work it out together

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