Reprimand an Employee For Poor Performance | Letter-Writing Guide


Begin positively and then proceed directly to the issue. Focus on the incident or practice in question. Offer constructive criticism, but do not make generalizations about the character of the person receiving the reprimand. Also see "Document employee reprimands."


1. Compliment the employee on past performance or any special accomplishments.

  • I have greatly appreciated your contributions to the department over the last two years. In that time you have helped us to understand our customers better.
  • The managers of the Iowa, Texas, and Oklahoma offices have had nothing but good to say about the programs you recently introduced at their sites.
  • Since you have started with our company, those who work with you have expressed their appreciation of your sense of humor, your kind temperament, and your willingness to help out whenever you can.
  • The other department managers and I have been impressed with the ad campaigns that you have developed in the last six months.
  • First off, I would like to congratulate your team on its new sales record. That kind of performance reflects well on your ability to work with them.
  • always been able to rely on your
  • appreciate your thoroughness
  • appreciated your contributions
  • during the time we have worked together
  • expressed their appreciation
  • has been very complimentary about your
  • have long appreciated
  • have appreciated all that you have
  • have been a source of
  • have done an excellent job of
  • have appreciated your
  • have been impressed with your
  • have always found you to be
  • have helped us to
  • have looked upon you as
  • have an exceptional talent for
  • have greatly appreciated your
  • have counted on you to be
  • have appreciated you for your
  • have been impressed by
  • have regarded you as an asset to
  • have been very beneficial to
  • have a remarkable ability to
  • in that time you
  • is highly valued
  • made a substantial contribution to
  • more than satisfactory
  • performance has always been
  • since you joined the company in
  • skills are quite remarkable
  • that you have developed
  • work record in the past has been
  • would like to congratulate you on
  • your contributions to the firm have
  • your invaluable expertise in
  • your willingness to adapt to

2. Give the details about the incident or practice in question. Be careful not to insult the employee or employees involved. Communicate facts, not suspicions. If you have addressed this issue with this particular employee or group of employees before, mention it.

  • One of our most valued clients has recently informed us that you have been verbally abusive on at least two separate occasions.
  • The secretaries at the front desk have complained about your behavior with clients in the front lobby when you greet them. They specifically complained that you use crude language. This practice reflects poorly on the company.
  • As a sales representative, I am sure you appreciate the value of a good corporate image. With that in mind, I regretfully must inform you of several complaints I have received about your attire while meeting with clients and perspective clients. On several occasions you have shown up for appointments inappropriately dressed. This is the second time I have had to bring this to your attention.
  • We are frankly concerned about the poor production your team has achieved over the last three months. Our records show that you have not met any of your production goals over that time, and that the situation is getting steadily worse.
  • The Customer Service Department has complained to me several times in the last three weeks about what they consider to be your "overbearingness" and unwillingness to communicate with them. One specific example they cited was that you derided one of their staff members in front of a client, calling him slow and incompetent.
  • On May 13, I sent you a memo asking you to submit any new project proposals at the beginning of the work week unless circumstances demanded otherwise. It has recently come to my attention that you have turned in all your proposals on Thursdays and Fridays, and that you have never explained why you violated the established policy.
  • We are very concerned that you may be developing a drinking problem. I don't think you have come to work drunk, but you have often complained about having a hangover. We fear your off-hours behavior is beginning to affect your performance.
  • adversarial attitude towards
  • am sorry to hear that
  • are paid to perform a service
  • are concerned that
  • are seldom available to
  • are becoming very concerned about
  • company pays a heavy price for
  • consistent decrease in your
  • continue to have trouble with
  • damaging to our reputation
  • failure to prepare
  • found several discrepancies in
  • has raised objections to
  • has recently informed us
  • have received further complaints about
  • have complained that you
  • have determined that
  • have received several complaints about
  • have been careless about
  • is becoming a safety hazard
  • may seem harmless to you, but
  • must regretfully inform you that
  • pattern seems to be repeating itself
  • practice is unethical
  • reflects poorly on the company
  • remiss about preparation of
  • serious problems with your performance
  • sets a bad example for
  • this has resulted in
  • this performance is unacceptable
  • too serious to pass off
  • uncooperative attitude towards
  • were distressed to discover
  • work is substandard in the following areas

3. Include specific suggestions on how the employee can improve the situation. Include any goals you would like the employee to work toward. Let him or her know that you are willing to listen to another viewpoint.

  • Please contact my secretary and set up a time when you can meet with me, and we will work out a solution to this problem.
  • I would like you to give me a plan and a timetable of how you intend to resolve this problem. I will expect your response by March 4.
    To rectify this situation, please consult your Employee's Policies and Procedures Manual and reacquaint yourself with the company's policy regarding clothing. Please modify your apparel accordingly.
  • During the next sixty days, we will evaluate your performance. We expect that you will improve your sales by at least 10%. We recognize that with the market in its present condition, this may not be easy, but it is certainly within your capabilities.
  • We would suggest that you reevaluate the way you interact with our clients and that you treat them with more respect. We would also like you to attend the company's seminar on customer relations by June 6. The next one is scheduled for May 9. Please contact John Doe when you have finished the seminar and discuss the situation further with him.
  • We recommend that you contact a specialist about your drinking problem. It would be a shame for this to become a threat to your job.
  • attend our course on
  • avoid any recurrence of this behavior
  • eliminate these flaws in your performance
  • expect your response by
  • have been placed on probation for
  • how you intend to address and resolve this
  • if there is further information
  • if there's anything I need to know
  • let me know if
  • make yourself familiar with
  • must require you to meet and maintain
  • must place you on probation
  • must improve your performance in this area
  • need to see improvement in
  • offer a good explanation for
  • pending further investigation
  • performance needs to show substantial improvement
  • reacquaint yourself with the policy concerning
  • set up a time when we
  • situation needs your immediate attention
  • suggest that you reevaluate
  • unless you seek professional help
  • unless you commit to
  • will monitor your performance closely
  • will assist you in seeking professional assistance
  • work out a solution to
  • would be acceptable
  • would normally result in immediate dismissal
  • would like you to submit a plan
  • your immediate attention to

4. Close the letter on a positive note, assuring the reader that you believe he or she will take all necessary steps to rectify the problem.

  • I trust that you will make every effort possible to clear up this situation.
  • We will appreciate your immediate attention to this matter.
  • I hope to hear from you soon.
  • Please contact us as soon as you can so we can get this behind us and get on with business.
  • I hope you will address this problem immediately. Please let me know if there is anything I can do to help.
  • able to meet this expectation
  • am willing to help you to
  • am sure we can eliminate the problem
  • am sure that this can all be worked out
  • anything I can do to help
  • can yet enjoy a satisfying career with us
  • can overcome this problem
  • clear up this situation
  • get this behind us
  • get rid of this stumbling block to
  • have made many positive contributions
  • have every confidence that you
  • have confidence that you
  • have many significant contributions to make
  • hope to hear from you very soon
  • please inform me immediately
  • remove this stumbling block to your success
  • trust that you will address this situation immediately
  • value you as an employee
  • will accept our help
  • will make every effort to
  • your immediate attention to

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