The manager of the assembly department came into my office. “I need your help to write a memo,” he said.
Ok. What’s this memo about?
“I want to remind everyone that they only get two 15-minute breaks during their shift and that they need to clock out if they are going to take longer than that or if they need more than just the two breaks.”
Well, that’s pretty much the same thing our Handbook says in the policy on lunch and breaks. Why do you feel you need to write a memo?
“The smokers are getting out of control! They are taking breaks every hour almost to go outside to smoke. I’ve gotta do something about it!”
How many people are going outside to smoke every hour?
“It’s mainly 3 people.”
Have you talked to them about it to let them know it is a problem?
“No. I was going to do that after I gave everyone the memo if the memo didn’t fix it.”
Um. I don’t think a memo is the best course of action here …
I don’t like blanket “reminder memos” to employees about policies. As far as I am concerned, the copy of the Handbook and other manuals issued are the only reminders needed — unless there is a policy update or some other change.
“Reminder memos” usually mean a few employees are breaking rules and the manager wants them to stop — but is too chicken to address the problem directly so they send a “reminder memo” instead.
Listen up: Your “reminder memo” isn’t fooling anyone — it is only making you look foolish! The other employees know who and what the “reminder memo” is really about — and they are talking bad about you for sending a memo instead of dealing with the issue. And the employees who are breaking the rules are ignoring your memo — or they’re crafting new, improved ways to break the rules. Maybe both.
Instead of writing a blanket “reminder memo”, you should pull the problem employee(s) aside privately to remind them of the policy and to tell them that their actions are in violation. Let them know the behaviors expected for improvement and the timeframe required to comply with this change. Then give them a personal memo documenting the conversation for them to sign and place a copy in their employee file. Repeat this process if the behavior doesn’t change. After 2 or 3 repetitions, you may have to wish the person well in their future endeavors and end the employment relationship. But hopefully, it won’t come to that.
That’s how you address bad employee behavior. Save your “reminder” memo. Deal with the problem.