Thursday, March 4, 2010

Passive Aggressive Disciplinary Emails

Today we are going to talk about how to write the perfect passive aggressive disciplinary email. Why? Because I'm in charge of the blog.

In my line of work, its necessary (and obviously part of the manager's job description) to send out these kinds of emails about petty things, like food smells, socializing and 5 minute lateness. Why? Well if they didn't, there would be mayhem in the office. People would eat what they wanted, talk to each other--they might even start enjoying work. That can't happen. Think of the lost productivity!

So management has become pretty damn expert at sending out these emails. I'd say its necessary at least once a month, just to keep everyone in line.

Now I'm nothing if not a sharer of vital information, so here is a breakdown of how to send your very own passive aggressive disciplinary email. I think it would have had more impact, more pinache, if I had capitalized it, like given it a bona fide title. But I'm too far gone now, just gotta carry on.

1. Blanket the Email. You definitely don't want to make anyone feel left out so send the email to everyone in the department. There might just be a few people that are time or dress code offenders so best to just send it out to everyone. This has the added benefit of pointing the finger at those offenders because everyone knows that Tim is 10 minutes late every day and Nathan wears hats all the time. (Nathan is a real person with a fake name, Tim doesn't exist).

2. Open Lightheartedly. No one likes a disciplinary email, so start light. Open with a reason. Something like "We have had a lot of new people start lately so I thought it was a good time to go over some basic office protocol!" or "The weather has been really warm lately and we want to keep things 'cool' in the office so its a good time to just go over a few things!". The use of exclamation marks really keeps things light, almost like you're excited about the email. And believe me, that excitement is contagious!

3. Insert Copy & Pasted Protocol. Now that you have added a personal greeting for everyone in your department, you can just copy and paste all the info you want to pass along into the email. It doesn't matter that its way too much information for everyone to take in! They will get the gist of it. Copy and paste that long passage about dress code--make sure you list all the parts that the department supervisor flouts all the time. Nothing says "we mean business" like a supervisor that doesn't play by the rules. Has someone been 5 minutes late this week? Don't forget that part about lateness! The whole office will know who you are talking about and make doubly sure not to be called out like that themselves. If you are feeling particularly creative you can add your own words. Like if there has been too much chatting, people are feeling a little too content at work you can say something like "other departments have been commenting that the noise levels in the office have been going up and its affecting their production! Let's try and keep it down and be more conscious of other people's work habits." But remember, only if you are feeling creative.

4. Spelling and Grammar Don't Count! You're the manager! Spelling? Grammar? That's for the minions! Sending otu a passive agressive email is a a lot fo work, you dont have time to check the spelling or grmamar! Plus, you mkae the point sso much beetter when its hard to deciperh what you mean.

5. End on a High Note! Now that you've made your point, wrap it all up with an encouraging message. Something like "I know we've all been working really hard to catch up, so just keep these things in mind and we'll get there faster!" or "The weather is gorgeous so let's focus in the office and enjoy the weather on our own time!" goes a long way towards taking the sting out of all that "rule" stuff.

So now you have accomplished a few things. You have taken control of the department, knocked the staff down a few pegs (they were getting too big for their britches anyway. If you keep them down, they work harder), and shown your superiors that you have what it takes to move up even further.

Oh- its Cold and Flu season! So as a bonus to your passive aggressive disciplinary email, you could send out a "Wellness Reminder". This email shows the department that you are concerned for their health by noting that there have been a lot of absences due to sickness recently. That if people are really sick, they should of course, stay home! When you are in the office, make sure to cough in your elbow, and wash your hands often to help make sure that you don't get others sick! After all, healthy employees are happy employees. And you don't want to get behind again! (Obviously what you really mean is that you can't afford to keep paying for sick days and lost productivity. Hopefully this email will guilt them all into staying healthy. Or at least still coming into work.)

I really feel like now you are ready to send out your very own passive aggressive disciplinary emails. Don't worry if people are a little subdued around you after you send it--that means its working!!

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