A reprimand should include constructive criticism, and constructive criticism starts with a compliment. Show appreciation for some part of the other person’s work that has been good or for some event he or she has participated in. A phrase like, “We appreciate your willing attitude,” or “You have been with us a good many years,” lets the person know that he or she is being treated with consideration. The complimentary attitude should not be overdone, however, or the turnabout to a reprimand will seem contradictory.
       Make a letter of reprimand short: there is no reason to prolong the agony. Shortness will also prevent a tendency to ramble around the fringes of the subject. Make the fact of a reprimand direct, but in a tactful and considerate way, To keep criticism easy to take, criticize indirectly. Rather than saying, “Don’t smoke in the lunchroom,” say, “Please smoke outside.” Replace, “You are late all the time,” with “Please try to be more prompt.”
       The Eastern concept of saving face is applicable to a letter of criticism. Let the reader keep his or her ego; let the reader know that you too are not without fault – that you are human. A word or two of praise now and then in the letter will let the person retain his or her good image. This leads to a cooperative attitude on the part of both parties. Then, corrective action can be suggested. Tell the reader how errors can be corrected, what action needs to be taken, and how you will help.
       Set goals that can be reached, not grand goals of  improved self or a happier life ahead, but specific goals, as only 4 errors next month, or a chore completed by 4:00 p.m. each day. In a work environment, one person’s accomplishing suggested goals can boost the morale of co-workers. In a personal situation, reaching goals makes you feel good. End your reprimand with encouragement.

Letter 1

Dear [[Recipient]]:

Your work record in the past has been excellent, but now it has come to my attention that you have been spending a lot of working hours campaigning for new officers.  I haven’t been there to observe, but reports have come to me from several sources.  Since this interferes with the amount of work you are doing, I would suggest you devote less time to campaigning and more to Company work.

Letter 2

Dear [[Recipient]]:

You have a lot of good friends here.  We all like your smile and your cheery greeting in the mornings.  There is one area, however, in which we feel there is room for improvement.  We would like to suggest a stronger deodorant and perhaps more frequent washing of your blouses.  You no doubt have been unaware of this need, but your co-workers would appreciate your considering the problem.

Keep smiling and please hold on to your cheerful ways.

Letter 3

Dear [[Employees]]:

We had a minor fender bender accident in the parking lot yesterday at quitting time between an employee and one of our customers.  Our employee disregarded the directional arrows in his rush to leave.

Our customer was astounded that so many employees were dashing out against the arrows.  He was more than unhappy, and threatened to take his business elsewhere.

Not only because of loss of business, but also for your own physical safety, DIRECTIONAL ARROWS IN THE PARKING LOT MUST BE OBEYED.  If you cannot correct this type of behavior, strong measures will be taken to insure that you do.

Safety requires not only care but also courtesy and consideration for others.

Letter 4

Dear [[Recipient]]:

The executive committee has reviewed your travel expense account for the past year.  Your overall expenses seem reasonable, and although we have not established a budget for each salesperson, we plan to have one developed for use next year.

One facet of your travel strikes us as probably uneconomical.  You appear to be covering the western states in a disorganised way.  For example, in May you made calls in cities in this order: Portland, San Francisco, Oakland, San Diego, Los Angeles, Boise, Denver, Portland, Seattle, Salt Lake City, Sacramento, and Oakland.

Looking at a map of the western states, this schedule involves a lot of skipping and backtracking.  The Committee believes that money and travel time could be saved if you traveled in a roughly circular route to prevent backtracking.  Is this thought correct, or is there a good reason for not following a more direct route from city to city?

Please let me have your comments on this by April 29.

Letter 5

Dear [[Recipient]]:

Reports on the attractiveness of your displays in our midwestern stores and favorable comments by customers indicate you are doing an excellent job of displaying our merchandise.

These reports come to me from our department buyers who also bring up a situation that needs correcting.  They report that you often appear on the selling floor during busy periods and request too much help from the salespeople.  There is no reason why you should need help from the sales staff.  Disruptions in the sales area could be minimized by organizing all your materials and tools in the work areas before bringing anything onto the selling floor.  This will also lessen your time on the floor.  You should be able to schedule your work on the sales floor so that most of it is done before customers arrive and after the store is closed.

Please give this some thought and let me know by March 20 your plans for closer cooperation with the department buyers.  I know they tend to be difficult at times – but they do have a point.

Letter 6

Dear [[Recipient]]:

I commend you for never having had a fire, but the January 31 report from our fire insurance company states that the fire insurance on the Telstra plant will increase 30 percent next year.  The reason stated is unsafe conditions, supported by two citations from the fire marshall for the same violation within four months.

This is poor management.  You are risking the lives of the Telstra employees.

By February 10, I want to have on my desk a compliance certification from the Telstra County Fire Inspector.

Letter 7

Dear [[Recipient]]:

I have been studying the September and year-to-date cost statements for your plant. Overall, your cost-cutting has improved since my review of the first six months, but one thing disturbs me: the reductions have been in the small-cost categories.  If you are to meet the budgeted goal by year-end, costs of finishing supplies and maintenance materials must be cut considerably.  We discussed this in July.  The time for action is fast disappearing.  Please send me a plan by November 1 for reducing costs in the last two months.

Continue the good work on the small items; we can’t lose any ground already gained.

Letter 8

Dear [[Recipient]]:

A situation has recently come to my attention that must be corrected.  Evidently some employees’ families and friends are coming in to the plant, particularly on the second and third shifts.

As you know, this is strictly against company policy, because of the liability we could incur if someone were hurt.  Any tours of the plant must be arranged through the Personnel Department.

Effective immediately, please take whatever steps are necessary to secure the manufacturing area from unauthorised persons.