HOW TO WRITE A CONVINCING RECOMMENDATION MEMO
From: Eleanor Culver, President, REAL HR
Subject: How to Make a Recommendation to Your Boss
An introductory statement to explain what you are going to be discussing. This is where you would briefly outline the “bigger picture” (i.e. internet security issues for companies), including citing any statistics or facts gleaned from articles, papers, talks etc. (make sure you include these in a Reference List at the end of your memo).
Provide details of the issue at hand. Explain in detail why this is important to the company, to the boss and to you.
Give detail about the impact the issue is having on productivity, morale, absenteeism, turnover, impact on other departments etc. (the non-financial pieces).
The Financial Impact
Provide details of the financial impact the issue has on the company. How much money is being lost in productivity, vendor contracts, lost clients, missed opportunities?
The Alternatives Considered
Discuss all the different solutions to the issue/challenge that you have considered. Include pros and cons for each point. This is your chance to think outside of the box and be creative!
Your Recommendation to Solve the Issue
Clearly state which of the alternatives you are recommending and why. Re-state the pros for the recommended alternative, outline the “cons” along with strategies to minimize them, and explain how you will implement your recommended course of action.
Provide implementation details such as resources (time, staff, money) that will be required to implement your solution.
Make sure you include the Return on Investment (ROI) with the complete calculations and methodology.
It is critical that you give “all” the facts at this point in your recommendation. Make sure you include all the “negative” points to show that you have considered them and have suggestions for eliminating/minimizing them. If you ignore the downside of your recommendation, your recommendation will be dismissed as unrealistic.
The Call to Action
Write a short, snappy, one or two sentence summary of your recommendation along with a clearly stated deadline for approval and a very brief statement of the first few steps (and timelines) to get the ball rolling.
Close with a statement thanking the reader for considering your recommendation and an offer to discuss any questions he/she may have about the details.
Some people don’t sign memos. I do.
Potential appendixes will include:
- a list of References that you have referred to. Include newspapers, journal articles, presentations attended, etc.
- Any supporting documentation for your recommendation such as other memos, powerpoint slides, maps, brochures etc.