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How to Write a Tribute to a Co-Worker

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At some point in your career, you might be asked to write a tribute to a co-worker who is retiring, leaving the company or has passed away. A tribute is meant to highlight the positive aspects of an individual's life. Writing a tribute for presentation in a business environment should focus on the individual's professional accomplishments and the characteristics that made him or her a good colleague and team member.

Collect Vital Information

Talk to people who knew your colleague well so you can reference career highlights, professional accomplishments and major successes. Check with your human resources office for information on your colleague’s work history, key positions during his or her career and notable business, professional and community involvement. Find out if he or she was acknowledged with prestigious industry or community awards. Talk to family members or friends outside the work environment and ask what your colleague most enjoyed about his or her professional life.

Get Personal Statements

Ask other colleagues, former co-workers and managers to describe their fondest memory of the staffer or describe his or her work ethic or professional philosophy. Weave these comments into your tribute to demonstrate the wide-ranging impact the colleague had on friends and co-workers during his career. If the staffer was involved in customer service and had close, long-term working relationships with vendors, suppliers or clients during the course of his or her career, ask them to share a few words about his professionalism and commitment to quality service.

Focus on the Positive

A professional tribute should focus on the positive aspects of a person’s business life while addressing notable aspects of his personality, such as compassion, patience or creativity. If the person you're honoring is still living, you can weave some humorous, yet appropriate anecdotes or stories into your tribute. If the person is deceased, use caution in sharing embarrassing stories that could potentially tarnish his or her reputation.

Share Your Relationship

If you're asked to write a tribute to a colleague, it's likely you know the individual well and have a personal relationship. If this is the case, outline in your introduction your connection to the person being honored and provide a brief overview of your history. From there, move into a chronological summary of the person's work life. If you're writing a script for someone else to read, or writing a tribute meant to represent the position of your company, stick to the person's career history and personable traits.

Final Thoughts

End your tribute with a brief summary of the person’s future plans and wish the co-worker luck with new endeavors or an enjoyable retirement. If the individual is deceased, conclude with a statement of how he or she will be missed by friends and colleagues. Express condolences to the family on behalf of your colleagues and your employer.


Lisa McQuerrey has been a business writer since 1987. In 1994, she launched a full-service marketing and communications firm. McQuerrey's work has garnered awards from the U.S. Small Business Administration, the International Association of Business Communicators and the Associated Press. She is also the author of several nonfiction trade publications, and, in 2012, had her first young-adult novel published by Glass Page Books.

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