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If you’re having problems with your boss’s management style, sometimes the most effective way to handle the situation isn’t to schedule a meeting but to write a letter detailing your concerns. This method can be particularly effective if you’re a nonconfrontational person who dreads the idea of having a face-to-face discussion of this nature with your boss. Done properly, this can be an effective platform to express your concerns and change your boss’s behavior.
Accentuate the Positive
When composing your letter, maintain a formal tone throughout the text. This shows your boss that you’re really serious about the impact his bad behavior has on you and that he needs to change his ways. Writing the letter so it reads in an optimistic manner is a much better way to get a positive response from him. If he feels you're attacking him, he’s going to go on the defensive. Making it seem like you don’t believe he’s aware that he’s behaving inappropriately will make your comments appear less accusatory.
State Your Concerns
Provide your boss with a general overview of your concerns. Summarize your main points in a straightforward manner, so he understands exactly what’s bothering you. Be completely honest about the ways his negative behavior is impacting your level of job satisfaction. Get to the point right away, in the first paragraph of the letter. Including extra, nonrelevant copy will only distract him from the main issues at hand.
Provide specific examples of your boss’s bad behavior to help him realize the error of his ways. Try to include an example along with each problem you mention to provide further evidence that the problem really does exist and isn’t simply in your mind. For example, if you’re fed up with fellow employees showing up for work late, note that a teammate came in an hour late twice last week. Or if you’re complaining about your boss’s volatile temper, mention that he yelled at you and called you a degrading name the day before.
Suggest Ways for Improvement
An effective complaint letter doesn’t just list problems; it also suggests means for improvement. Include ideas of ways your boss can fix the issues you’re concerned about to help him gain an understanding of what you need from him. This shows him that you’re proactively trying to correct the situation and not simply complaining.
Laura Woods is a Los Angeles-based writer with more than six years of marketing experience. She has a Bachelor of Arts in communications from the University of Pittsburgh and an MBA from Robert Morris University.