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You need to write an internal memo to staff. But what do you say? How do you say it? You start to sweat. You don’t know where to begin or how you will come across…or if you might say the wrong thing and make a bad situation worse.

Here is a quick six-step guide to writing an internal memo to staff that will get the job done and keep them motivated.

This works for good news and for bad news. It works if you are closing up shop, moving to a new location, embarking on a new project or announcing bonuses for everyone.

First, use simple, conversational language.

People will warm up to your message if it sounds like a conversation. That’s right, it has to sound authentic, like you are really talking with them (not at them).

If it sounds stiff and “official”, like a machine or a lawyer might have written it, you won’t engage your employees. Here are a few tips:

  • Use plain English at a grade 8 level, or lower. Yes, even if your staff are educated doctors or architects.
  • Use contractions. People talk in contractions.
  • Use common words, not bureaucratic words. That’s how people talk with one another.
  • Use “you” most of the time, but sometimes say “I” to express how you feel, too. Make your employees the center of the universe while they read your memo.

Second, recognize them and thank them from the start.

Let them know that they are appreciated. Employees consistently value appreciation and recognition among their top motivators. This is one of the best ways to ensure they will read your message and absorb it. Say things like:

  • “I know how hard you’ve all been working. Thank you so much.”
  • “I’m as impressed as always with your amazing results.”
  • “What a team! You always make me proud.”

Never underestimate the value of expressing appreciation. Once they know they are appreciated, your staff will be ready to listen to you.

Caveat: if you say you appreciate them, but your actions on a day-to-day basis say otherwise, you won’t come across as authentic. You will come across as fake and conniving.

Today’s internal memo starts yesterday. And the day before. And the day before that. It starts when you smile at employees day after day. It starts when you hold the door open for employees. It starts when you make a point to say hello and show an interest in what they are doing and in how they feel about their job and their working conditions.

Sorry…you can’t fake authenticity.

Third, tell them what they need to know.

Remember to be succinct. People won’t read memos that look like a novel. Tell them two things:

  1. what they need to know
  2. what will keep them grounded, especially if there could be changes that might worry them

Use plain, colloquial language. Stick to the facts, but be gentle about anything that might cause them worry. Be reassuring.

If there is something you can’t reassure them about, tell them exactly what you are doing to try to get the best outcome and exactly when they will see the next update from you. Give them every reason not to panic. Panicking employees are not the most productive.

Explain:

  • why your news is important to the company
  • why your news is important to the customers
  • why your news is important to the world or society
  • but most of all, why your news is important to them

Bottom line: give your staff the information to make them feel in as much control as possible and to reduce uncertainty as much as possible.

Fourth, motivate them.

If you want them to take action, now’s the time for the pep talk.

  • “I have seen what this team can accomplish.”
  • “We’ve been through challenges before.”
  • “Together, we can climb this mountain.”

Build their confidence, create team spirit and motivate them. Help them feel as positive as possible, whether you’ve just given them a pot of gold or a mountain to climb.

Fifth, thank them again.

You might thank them along with the pep talk. You might thank them for always being there. You might thank them for what they are about to accomplish. Or you might just thank them “for being you”.

You can never thank people too often. Appreciation and smiling are the two management strategies with the highest ROI, so be generous with both.

Finally, leave the door open.

Unless your memo is about closing down the business, make them feel like you are still with them when the memo is over.

  • “My door is always open if you have questions.”
  • “You’ll be hearing more as soon as I have more news to share.”
  • “Stay tuned for future updates.”

Even if you are closing down the business, you will have to deal with the staff. So you might as well make it as easy on everyone as possible. That means keeping your door open and offering future updates.

Internal memos to staff are easy

Internal memos to staff are not all that hard. There’s a simple format to follow, then insert the information they need to know.

If you are worried that you might come across as too business-like, ask someone with strong empathy to take a red pen to your draft.

In the end, your staff need to feel like they are part of your team. Make it so by expressing your appreciation, sharing information, speaking frankly and candidly, and keeping your door open.