How to Write a Memo on a Bad Boss


It's easy enough to quickly fire off an email to complain about a bad boss -- but since the situation is such a delicate one, you'd do well to take a more measured approach. Before you craft your memo, consider all the facts of the complaint, who the memo will be sent to, and whether you can get any corroborating information from co-workers.

Reasons to Complain

  • Some problems are worth the trouble of filing a memo -- others are not. If the problem hampers productivity, negatively impacts customers, hurts sales or profits or damages the quality of the work, it's worth mentioning. If workers' safety is at risk or the boss is doing something that suspect is against labor or other laws, it's also a valid complaint that should be addressed. To start, outline the basic facts of the complaint, detailing the names, dates, locations and other relevant facts of all incidents you remember. Also, begin to think of a possible solution.

Who Gets the Memo?

  • To get the results you desire, address the memo to the proper person. Drafting a memo to the boss herself that requests a change in some of her policies or behaviors is one option, since no boss likes to have employees go over her head. However, if you don't feel comfortable doing that, or are afraid your boss will punish you in some way, the other options are to address the memo to your boss' supervisor or to the human resources department. With either of those options, be sure that the problem is a big one and not a petty disagreement on your part. Higher-ups don't appreciate being bothered by small problems. In very serious cases -- or cases in which you've gotten nowhere with any upper management -- you might even direct a complaint to the U.S. Department of Labor, or, for serious safety issues, the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration. If you're a member of a union, definitely talk to your union steward for guidance.

Soliciting Co-Worker Support

  • Your memo will carry more weight if you have co-worker support. If you know that certain co-workers share your problems with your boss, ask them to share their stories. Ask them for proof to ensure their stories are based on facts and not on emotional judgments or personal vendettas. Once it's crafted, ask each co-worker involved to sign the memo.

Drafting the Letter

  • When crafting the memo, keep it short and free of emotion or blame. Rely on the facts of the matter, and focus on the problem instead of the symptoms of the problem. For example, you might start out the memo by saying something like, "I am writing to address the problem of X." Next, cite specific incidents that detail your boss' bad judgment or behavior, making sure to include the date, time, location, what happened and who else was involved. After that, explain how it affected the company, such as how a boss' temper has led to high employee turnover in your department. After you've laid out the problem in clear language, suggest a solution, such as having the company retrain your boss on how to manage his emotions. Do not make threats, such as saying you will contact authorities if something is not done about the problem. Instead, simply ask the recipient of the memo to look further into the problem. Be sure to sign the memo before sending it.

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