Write a Complaint Letter to a Subordinate — Letter-Writing Tutorial


Be candid and respectful. Avoid saying things that allude to your position or that could be construed as condescending or overbearing.


1. State the problem clearly and briefly, without directly blaming anyone. Using passive sentences that omit reference to the responsible party is sometimes helpful. Make your tone positive and direct.


  • Security informs me that the door to our restricted area has been left unlocked three times during the past month.
  • It appears that nobody knew about our agreement to ship the boxes by 6:00 p.m.
  • Mistakes in labeling have cost us $100 this month.
  • It embarrassed the president to see that nothing had been done to correct the problem.
  • The way this was announced to employees was very inconsiderate.
  • The suggestion made in our last meeting was inappropriate.
  • I believe this new policy is very short-sighted.
  • The invitation to attend the hiring meeting should not have been sent to applicants.
  • I pointed out two weeks ago that the filters on the furnaces needed to be changed.


  • aware of inappropriate
  • believe this new policy will
  • did not represent our commitment to
  • doesn't take into account
  • during this past month
  • errors in protocol
  • have been complaining that
  • have come to see me concerning
  • job didn't get done
  • knew about our agreement to
  • mistakes in labeling
  • need to be more considerate of
  • nothing had been done
  • pointed out that
  • policies established by
  • received many customer complaints about
  • security informs me that
  • seemingly uncaring attitude
  • serious breach of
  • should not have been
  • should have excluded
  • should not have involved
  • such mistakes cost us
  • the recommendation made in our last
  • these errors have cost us
  • to correct the problem
  • to resolve the original
  • to be more considerate of
  • unaware of the policies
  • warrants more research
  • was embarrassing to
  • were extremely dissatisfied

2. Explain what has been done or what you expect to be done to correct the problem. Request a reasonable, possible solution.


  • To resolve this problem we are instituting a buddy system requiring two persons to sign the security list at the end of each day.
  • We will no longer honor credit cards at the cafeteria.
  • Please hold a meeting to review company policy in this situation, so we can avoid a recurrence.
  • I suggest that you make sure that each member of your group is trained to use the equipment.
  • The company will no longer permit employees to have visitors without prior approval.
  • Please cover these points in detail when you hold your next meeting.
  • Please help me see that this situation is cleared up by next Tuesday.
  • Please ask your staff to suggest ways to solve this problem and then give me your recommendation.
  • Please look into this problem and send me a suggestion by 5 January on how this should be resolved.
  • Will you please follow through on this request and let me know by Friday how things turn out?
  • Please bring this problem to the attention of those who pack the boxes.
  • Please let me know what you can do to correct this problem.
  • Would you please take personal responsibility for correcting the records.
  • I hope you will be able to resolve this problem with the client without further action on my part.
  • Without embarrassing him or putting him on the defensive, would you please instruct him to eat his lunch in the lounge.


  • ask your staff to
  • bring this to the attention of
  • can no longer continue to
  • cover the following points
  • do what you can to
  • from now on, we will expect
  • hold a meeting to
  • hope you will be able to
  • how you plan to
  • is clear that we need to
  • let me know what you recommend
  • let me know by
  • look into this problem
  • make a point of
  • make sure that each
  • must act on this request
  • must be trained to
  • must know the proper
  • need to correct our
  • policy will be changed so that
  • resolve this problem with
  • review company policy on
  • see to it that
  • should be resolved by
  • so it doesn't happen again
  • suggest ways to resolve this
  • take personal responsibility for
  • that this situation is cleared up
  • that this does not happen again
  • to follow through with
  • to ensure that
  • to avoid future
  • to clear this
  • to resolve this
  • trust that you will be able to
  • will be instituting
  • without embarrassing those
  • would like to hear your
  • would you please instruct him
  • would be pleased to hear that

3. Without dwelling on the problem, explain the benefits of this corrective action.


  • This new procedure should make all personnel more conscious of security risks and allow them to work interdependently.
  • This change should make us all more sensitive to student needs.
  • I trust that such well-defined directives will make things easier for all of us.
  • Let me know if this new procedure complicates your supervisory tasks.
  • While this new procedure adds one more item to your job description, I am sure it will be to everyone's benefit in the long run.
  • This action should save us considerable time, money, and effort.
  • I think you will agree that this change will make everyone more productive in the long run.
  • When this problem is resolved, we can all breathe more easily.
  • Unfortunately, it will be necessary to remind the staff of this policy every month.
  • Although this may seem like a minor detail, it is important that we take action to retain our best clients.


  • although this may seem to be
  • anything we can do to
  • become more sensitive to
  • can all breathe more easily
  • have to see the entire picture
  • in the larger scheme of things
  • in the long run
  • is worth our every effort
  • is important that we take action
  • look forward to witnessing
  • make us all more productive
  • may seem like a minor item
  • may take more time initially
  • remind the staff of the benefits of
  • retain our clientele
  • retain our best clients
  • save us considerable time
  • should meet employee needs
  • should help all personnel to
  • the better to attain our goals
  • think you will agree that
  • this new procedure should simplify
  • this change should make
  • will become more productive
  • will eliminate the problem of
  • will save a great deal of
  • will be to your benefit

4. Close with a positive statement showing confidence in the reader, or requesting support or cooperation.


  • I am confident that you will help us resolve this problem once and for all.
  • I know this troubles you as much as it does me, but I am sure we can resolve this issue together.
  • Thank you for seeing that this problem is resolved, so we can focus our attention on our primary mission.
  • I will greatly appreciate your assistance in seeing that this problem is corrected.
  • I know you can handle this situation in a sensitive way.
  • I appreciate your tactful approach to resolving these kinds of problems. Let me know how this works out.
  • I sincerely appreciate your attention to this problem, and<br />have every confidence that you can turn the situation around.
  • Please let me know how this new policy works out over the next few weeks.
  • Let's make every effort to make next month one we can be proud of.
  • With such careful attention to details, I am sure we will see improvement that will benefit us all.
  • Thank you for helping me correct this situation.
  • May I count on your full cooperation?
  • I will appreciate your help in correcting the situation. If you need more information, please call me.


  • am aware that
  • am sure you will
  • am confident that
  • appreciate your attention to
  • appreciate your tactful approach to
  • are certainly more than able to
  • best in your field
  • can turn the situation around
  • can resolve it together
  • can offer my assistance
  • count on your full cooperation
  • focus our attention on
  • for all the effort you
  • for being so willing to
  • for your cooperation
  • have every confidence in
  • helping me correct this situation
  • how this new policy works
  • if I can be of further help
  • know you want the best
  • know you are also concerned about
  • let me know how this works out
  • let's make every effort to
  • our primary mission
  • resolving this kind of problem
  • resources are at your disposal
  • something we can be proud of
  • thank you for
  • will be sincerely appreciated
  • will help us to
  • will see improvement
  • will do your best to
  • your expertise in

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