Bad News Memo Rough Draft

Page 1: Author’s Note
Page 1 of both your rough draft and final draft should consist of your author’s note, updated for each draft individually.

The rough draft author’s note should include a discussion of each of the following:

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A one-sentence summary of the scenario you have developed (i.e., what the employee did)
A statement summarizing the steps you took to develop this draft (e.g., outlined ideas, drafted message, had roommate review it, ran message through Grammarly, etc.)
A reflection explaining the strategies you used in the message and why you used them (e.g., how you are seeking to build goodwill despite a negative situation, how you are preserving this employee’s reputation, how you are managing your boss’ impression of you)
The kind of feedback you want, specifically (e.g., I really want a critical eye turned to the third paragraph because I know it doesn’t flow well. It feels kind of choppy. I’m not sure how to incorporate all of the requirements of this section).
The final draft author’s note should include your rough draft author’s note PLUS a discussion of each of the following:

A one-sentence summary of the scenario you have developed (i.e., what the employee did, revised from the rough draft as needed)
A statement of where the draft is in the process of development, as well as how it has evolved throughout the revision process (be specific)
Your own assessment of the piece, including where your writing has improved and where you still have room for growth
The kind of feedback that would help most, specifically, including what you believe would be most useful to your learning
Be sure to label each author’s note, indicating whether it is your rough draft or final draft author’s note.

Page 2: Memo
Compose a memo to your boss in which you have to convey the failure of one of your employees. This failure has cost the company time and/or money. While your employee made a mistake, you share in the blame for not catching his/her mistake.

It is your company’s procedure to write memos for employee files in basic error situations such as this. These may be consulted for performance evaluations and promotion decisions. Despite this error, you want to retain this person on your team.

Your memo should:

state the purpose for the memo
explain the failure of the employee, including the details or reasons that led to his/her failure
acknowledge your role in allowing this to happen
identify the consequences of the mistake
share options you are considering to fix the problem and/or move forward
reassure your boss of the competence of your team
remain professional and honest throughout
manage the impression your boss is forming of you through this experience
Your memo should not:

be used to degrade, sacrifice, or destroy your employee or his/her career
accuse your employee of an illegal activity (e.g., stealing from the company or client), as that would be a fireable offense and best shared first with your boss in a face-to-face conversation
absolve yourself of responsibility
promise that this mistake will never happen again (that’s not realistic)
blame the employee’s or your failure on outside circumstances (e.g., weather, other people, jury duty, etc.)
Use the format guidelines as well as the principles for communicating bad news to an internal audience. You should provide enough detail that the scenario is clear to your reader.


When choosing the error, think about your job (or that of someone else’s) and mistakes people make that have cost the company time and money. Think along the lines of an inventory error, calculation error, or order error.
Your memo should share the bad news once in a clear and concise manner. State the mistake and surrounding details once, then focus the rest of the message on what will change.
Your memo should be no more than one page, including the heading.
Be sure to consult the memo template provided. Paragraphs should be single-spaced, and double-spaced (a blank line) between paragraphs.

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