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Problems, Pointing Out

Guidelines : Problems, Pointing Out

Pointing Out Problems


  • State the problem immediately.
  • Don’t use the once-upon-a-time format, giving details in chronological order. Such details have no meaning to the reader until he or she knows the problem.
  • If they’re not obvious, state all repercussions of the problem if a solution is not found.
  • Suggest one or more possible solutions. At the very least, suggest steps to investigate possible options.
  • Mention any deadline by which a solution must be found.
  • Keep in mind all details surrounding a problem are not necessarily relevant to its solution; be cautious about telling your reader more than he or she wants to know.

Example 1: Discuss problem letter





SUBJECT: Log Sheets for Graphics Terminal

Due to the increased use of the computer graphics equipment, we’ve had numerous scheduling conflicts that have resulted in some projects going beyond deadlines. I’d like to suggest a log sheet to reserve computer time.

We could schedule our time on the log sheet located in room T-989 by signing name, date, and estimated time requirements. If anyone must cancel this reservation, he or she should do so immediately to free the time slot for other work.

Time on the graphics equipment should be used only for final editing and graphing. Engineers will have to negotiate high-priority jobs among themselves. For work of lesser priority, we could use the terminals in C-445 and D-558.

Do you think this will work?

Example 2: Business letter of problem





SUBJECT: Signature for Power of Attorney

I foresee a potential problem with our present policy with regarding signatures under a power of attorney. According to law, the power-of-attorney procedure can be used by an absentee to conclude contractual obligations. Such procedure, however, always raise the probability of fraud and could leave us with the problem of collecting on a loan under guarantee.

Therefore, I would suggest we amend present company policy with regard to accepting signatures under power of attorney. I’d recommend we handle all power of attorney signatures on a case-by-case basis at the vice-presidential level. This new policy should go into effect immediately.

Example 3: Office complain letter


TO: All Pediatric Therapists

FROM: Marjorie Dayton, Infection Control Coordinator

DATE: March 9

SUBJECT: Recent spread of staph infection

As I am sure you are aware, staph infection has been spreading among our therapists and clients. The infection, caused by the staphylococcus bacteria, can result in stomach cramps, vomiting and/or diarrhea. The bacteria is usually spread through bodily fluids, such as saliva and urine.

In December, all therapists were instructed on the latest universal precautions that should be taken when working with clients. The following list is a reminder of the most crucial steps to take in order to avoid the spread of infection. Please follow them strictly to help us wipe out the current spread of staph infection.

• Wash your hands before and after seeing each client.

• Wash all toys or equipment handled by the child with the special disinfectant provided by our clinic even if they toy was not placed in the child’s mouth. Extra bottles of the disinfectant can be found on the top shelves of the linen closets on each floor.

• Be sure that all children thoroughly wash their hands with anti-bacterial soap after going to the bathroom. All staff should take special care in following this precaution themselves.

• Wear latex gloves if your therapy involves contact with the child’s mouth or if you need to change any diapers.

This weekend all equipment will be treated with a very strong disinfectant which must be left overnight.. Please clearly mark any toys you would like to have cleaned and place them in the “to be cleaned” basket located on the south side of the gym.

I appreciate your cooperation in helping us wipe out this infection. Let me know if you have any further suggestions.

Example 4: Office problems memos


TO: All staff members

FROM: Milton Hill, Director

DATE: May 1

SUBJECT: Unauthorized long distance calls

The long distance charges for the phone in the staff lounge area have been steadily increasing. Until now, calls from this phone have gone un-monitored, and staff members were asked to use their calling cards for personal long distance calls.

Because of increased misuse of this line, we have installed an individual calling code required for all long distance calls. In addition, each long distance call must be logged into the notebook under the phone stand. This procedure will help to avoid misuse by staff members from other companies in the building as well as our own. If problems continue to arise, we will be forced to match calls made with each code to the log sheets to determine who continues to make unauthorized calls from this phone.

We do not like to penalize everyone for the indiscretion of a few persons. However, the new dialing and logging process has become necessary to control in-house costs. You can pick up your calling code from Jerri. Please do not share this code with anyone.

I appreciate your cooperation and apologize for any inconvenience this may cause. If you would like to discuss this or any other issue which may be of concern, please call or come by my office.

Example 5: Problems pointing out letters


TO: Plant employees

FROM: Robert Cole, Supervisor

DATE: March 11

SUBJECT: Plant safety

As I am sure you have noticed, the number of accidents being reported on our plant floor have increased in the past three months. These accidents have ranged from minor burns to several broken bones. We are very interested in your safety and are currently searching for solutions.

A private safety inspector, hired by our company, will be making several unannounced visits to the plant within the next three weeks. He will be looking for overall safety in structure and equipment, as well as the general manner in which employees conduct themselves on the plant floor. A report on the conditions will be sent to me soon after the visits with suggestions for changes.

If you are aware of any conditions on the plant floor which seem hazardous, please report them to me immediately. Your safety is our utmost concern.

Example 6: Problems pointing out documents


TO: Manchester Office Building Tenants

FROM: Mark Fagel, Manager

DATE: December 3

SUBJECT: Trash in hallways

I have recently noticed that bags of garbage are being placed along the hallways while waiting to be thrown in the dumpster outdoors. The fire safety inspectors have informed me that this could obstruct the narrow hallways if it becomes necessary to evacuate the building immediately.

I am aware that the bitter cold this time of year is unbearable. Everyone wants to spend as little time as possible outdoors. However, we ask that you find an alternative solution to leaving the bags of garbage in the hallway. Not only is it an obstruction, but it also tends to be unattractive to visiting clients.

I appreciate your cooperation. If you have any suggestions or problems, please call me as soon as possible.

Example 7: Problems suggestion


TO: All Hargrove Mills employees

FROM: Jeff Greenberg, Public Relations Manager

DATE: June 5

SUBJECT: Public Service Opportunities

Several of you have approached me concerning opportunities to improve our public image through community volunteering. You suggested providing educational workshops for high school children interested in agriculturally-based careers, setting up community food banks, and serving at local soup kitchens. All of these ideas are excellent.

I have looked into each of these and found that all are possibilities, depending upon the number of employees interested in volunteering in each area. Local teachers and administrators indicated that we are welcome in the schools. If we provide a syllabus of the workshops, they can be worked into the curriculum to enhance real world learning. After interested participants are determined, a committee will be formed to design the workshop.

The local soup kitchen on 24th and Santa Angela St. reported a desperate need for servers, especially at lunch time on weekdays. Top administration has approved an extended lunch break one day per week for any employee wanting to volunteer.

The most difficult suggestion to implement is that of setting up a community food bank. This would require an empty building, persons willing to transport food from our factories and pick up food donations from local grocery stores, persons to organize and stock the building, and, of course, persons to distribute the food during hours of operation. This project will take several months of planning and a commitment on the part of many volunteers.

If you are interested in participating in any of these projects, a sign up sheet will be posted in the lunch area. If anyone would like to lead the committee in organizing these projects, please indicate your interest next to your name. My office will organize these lists and update you on committee meetings concerning your individual projects of interest.

Your interest in representing Hargrove Mills in these community service projects is greatly appreciated. Thank you for your commitment to the company and to the community.

Example 8: Problems letters


TO: All HealthWest employees

FROM: Andrew Adams, Director of Personnel

DATE: March 10

SUBJECT: Allergic reactions due to perfumes

Have you ever been on a crowded elevator early in the morning when everyone had just applied his or her favorite perfume or cologne? This is pretty overwhelming for the person without allergies. Imagine being allergic to fragrances and having to be exposed to several of them in closed-in areas. Several of our employees have been reporting headaches and/or allergic reactions when entering the office area.

The administration of this rehabilitation facility does not want to infringe on the personal rights of any individual. However, we would like to request that everyone lessen or eliminate the use of perfumes or colognes during the workday. This would help to create a more pleasant work environment for all employees.

Thank you for your cooperation. If you have any questions or concerns, please call my office.

Example 9: Company problems pointing out


TO: All non-salaried employees

FROM: J.B. Douglas, Director of Personnel

DATE: July 15

SUBJECT: Misuse of time cards

We have recently discovered that some employees are getting paid for hours they have not worked. It seems that some employees are having their co-workers punch out on the time clock for them when they decide to leave early. This dishonesty hurts all employees as it decreases productivity and morale.

Please be aware that punching out for another employee will result in immediate termination of both employees, with the possibility of a full-scale investigation of other “hours worked” in previous pay periods. We have developed new check systems to carefully monitor this situation. If there are no changes, we will be forced to install a new signature or fingerprint system which would require the employees signature or thumb print each time the card is accessed. We hope not to have to resort to such measures, as we do not believe in keeping our employees on a tight leash.

If this memorandum does not apply to you, we thank you for your loyalty to this company. You can be certain that your honesty and hard work will be rewarded.

Example 10: Problems, Pointing Out


TO: All Westside Insurance employees and their supervisors

FROM: James Jones, Vice President, Westside Insurance

DATE: June 1

SUBJECT: Dress code

Dressing professionally is an important step in setting the professional tone of an office. Westside Insurance demands a high level of professionalism from all of its employees and requires business suits to be worn by both men and women everyday. If you have always abided by this dress code, we appreciate your professionalism.

It has come to our attention that, unfortunately, not all employees are adhering to the dress code. Incidences of employees wearing jeans, sleeveless blouses, and casual suits have been reported. Please be informed that none of the above mentioned clothing is suitable for our office environment. Supervisors are expected to give one warning to their employees. Continued inappropriate dress will result in the employee being asked to change.

To avoid this situation, please review the attached form indicating the specifics of the dress code and a statement of agreement to abide by these rules. Please sign the form and return it to your supervisor by June 8.


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