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Examine the executive summary.  Please re-write the executive summary using the example from the Victoria Business School from week 3 as your model.  In other words, read over the executive summary from the report in the document from the Victoria Business School.  Then rewrite the executive summary for the “Evening Shades” report in the format and structure of the Victoria Business School report. Remember to respond to one classmate’s executive summary rewrite. 

VBS -Report page 29

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How to write a business report

(This handbook has been written in collaboration with

the School of Marketing and International Business, and

Student Learning,

Victoria University of Wellington)

April 2017

i

Contents

Introduction ………………………………………………………………………………. 1

1 Planning your business report …………………………………………………. 2

1.1 What is the purpose of this report? …………………………………………………………. 2

1.2 Who are the readers of this report? ………………………………………………………… 2

1.3 What are the report’s main messages?……………………………………………………. 3

1.4 How will the messages be structured? …………………………………………………….. 3

2 Structuring your business report …………………………………………….. 4

2.1 Covering letter/memorandum …………………………………………………………………. 4

2.2 Title Page ……………………………………………………………………………………………. 5

2.3 Executive Summary ……………………………………………………………………………… 5

2.4 Table of Contents …………………………………………………………………………………. 5

2.5 Introduction …………………………………………………………………………………………. 6

2.6 Conclusions/recommendations ………………………………………………………………. 6

2.7 Findings and discussion ………………………………………………………………………… 8

2.8 References ………………………………………………………………………………………….. 8

2.9 Appendices …………………………………………………………………………………………. 8

3 Writing your business report …………………………………………………. 10

3.1 Use effective headings and subheadings ……………………………………………….. 10

3.2 Structure your paragraphs well …………………………………………………………….. 11

3.3 Write clear sentences with plain language ……………………………………………… 12

3.4 Keep your writing professional ……………………………………………………………… 13

3.5 Use white space and well-chosen fonts …………………………………………………. 14

3.6 Number your pages…………………………………………………………………………….. 15

3.7 Use footnotes, tables, figures, and appendices appropriately ……………………. 15

ii

4 Concluding remarks ……………………………………………………………… 17

References ………………………………………………………………………………. 18

Appendix A: Checklist of a business report ………………………………. 19

Appendix B: Linking ideas within sentences and paragraphs …….. 20

Appendix C: Specific report requirements ………………………………… 21

Appendix D: An example of a finished report ……………………………. 23

1

Introduction

Writing an effective business report is a necessary skill for communicating

ideas in the business environment. Reports usually address a specific issue or

problem, and are often commissioned when a decision needs to be made.

They present the author’s findings in relation to the issue or problem and then

recommend a course of action for the organisation to take. The key to a good

report is in-depth analysis. Good writers will show their reader how they have

interpreted their findings. The reader will understand the basis on which the

conclusions are drawn as well as the rationale for the recommendations.

Report writing uses some of the writing skills you have already acquired. You

will structure your paragraphs and reference your ideas just as you have been

doing in your essays and other assignments within your Commerce degree.

You might want to refer to the Victoria Business School Writing Skills

Workbook you received in the first year. Report writing sometimes differs in

structure and style. This handbook will help you plan, structure, and write a

basic report. Remember, though, that reports will vary according to their

purpose and the needs of their reader/s. Throughout your university career,

different courses and/or different lecturers may have slightly different

requirements for reports. Please always check the requirements for each

assignment.

Acknowledgement

We acknowledge Write Limited, New Zealand’s plain English specialists.

Many of their principles for good business writing are reflected in this

handbook. A reference to their style guide is found in the reference list on p

17.

2

1 Planning your business report

As in all writing, planning is vitally important. The key questions to ask yourself

when planning a business report are:

 what is the purpose of this report

 who are the readers of this report

 what are the report’s main messages

 how will the report be structured?

1.1 What is the purpose of this report?

Keep in mind that the purpose of a business report is generally to assist in

decision making. Be sure you are clear on what decision is to be made and

the role the report plays in this decision. It might be useful to consider the

purpose in this way: As a result of this report, my reader/s will …

For example:

As a result of this report, my reader/s will know:

– how well our recycling programme is doing

– how to increase participation in it.

1.2 Who are the readers of this report?

Consider the main reader/s, but also secondary readers. The main reader for

the recycling report alluded to above is the director of the recycling

programme. Secondary readers might be the facilities management team on

campus, the finance team, etc.

Try to understand what the readers already know, what they need to know,

and how they will use this report. You will need to give enough information to

satisfy all these potential readers. You will need to use headings carefully so

that different readers can use the report in different ways.

3

1.3 What are the report’s main messages?

 Taking into account the information above, think carefully about the

main message/s you need to convey, and therefore what information is

required. Ask yourself: What are the required pieces of information I

need to include?

 What are the additional pieces of information I need to include?

1.4 How will the messages be structured?

The modern business approach is direct (or deductive, to use a more

sophisticated term). This approach presents the conclusions or

recommendations near the beginning of the report, and the report provides

justification for these recommendations. This approach will be used for the

remainder of this handbook and for report writing in general in the Victoria

Business School (Commerce Faculty).

It should be noted, however, that there is sometimes a place for the indirect

(inductive) approach. This approach leads the reader through the discussion

first and reveals the conclusions and recommendations at the end of the

report. This approach might be used if the recommendations are likely to be

controversial or unpopular (Emerson, 1995).

The next step is to construct an outline, or structure, for your report. Check

for a logical flow, and check your outline against your purpose, your reader/s,

and the report’s relevant information requirements.

4

2 Structuring your business report

A business report may contain:

 a covering letter or memorandum

 a title page

 an executive summary

 a table of contents

 an introduction

 conclusions

 recommendations

 findings and discussion

 a list of references

 appendices.

2.1 Covering letter/memorandum

Often a letter is attached to a report to officially introduce the report to the

recipient. If the recipient is outside the organisation, a letter format is

appropriate; if the recipient is inside the organisation, a memorandum/memo

is appropriate.

The covering letter or memorandum should:

 remind the reader of their request for the report

 state the purpose of the report

 acknowledge any assistance

 indicate future actions to be taken.

5

2.2 Title Page

The title page should be brief but descriptive of the project. It should also

include the date of completion/submission of the report, the author/s, and their

association/organisation.

2.3 Executive Summary

The executive summary follows the title page, and should make sense on its

own. The executive summary helps the reader quickly grasp the report’s

purpose, conclusions, and key recommendations. You may think of this as

something the busy executive might read to get a feel for your report and its

final conclusions. The executive summary should be no longer than one page.

The executive summary differs from an abstract in that it provides the key

recommendations and conclusions, rather than a summary of the document.

2.4 Table of Contents

The table of contents follows the executive summary on a new page. It states

the pages for various sections. The reader receives a clear orientation to the

report as the table of contents lists all the headings and sub-headings in the

report. These headings and sub-headings should be descriptive of the content

they relate to (see section 3 of this handbook).

6

2.5 Introduction

The introduction sets the stage for the reader. It gives the context for the

report and generates the reader’s interest. It orients the reader to the purpose

of the report and gives them a clear indication of what they can expect.

The introduction should:

 briefly describe the context

 identify the general subject matter

 describe the issue or problem to be reported on

 state the specific questions the report answers

 outline the scope of the report (extent of investigation)

 preview the report structure

 comment on the limitations of the report and any

assumptions made.

(Adapted from Emerson, 1995, p. 35)

2.6 Conclusions/recommendations

A business report usually needs both conclusions and recommendations. The

difference between conclusions and recommendations in a report lies in the

orientation to time. Conclusions typically relate to the present or past

situation.

When writing conclusions:

 interpret and summarise the findings; say what they mean

 relate the conclusions to the report issue/problem

 limit the conclusions to the data presented; do not introduce

new material

 number the conclusions and present them in parallel form

 be objective: avoid exaggerating or manipulating the data.

(Guffey, Rhodes & Rogin, 2001, p. 391)

7

Recommendations are oriented to the future: what changes are

recommended, or what actions are recommended for the future? They are

specific, action-oriented suggestions to solve the report problem.

When writing recommendations:

 make specific suggestions for actions to solve the report problem

 avoid conditional words such as maybe and perhaps

 present each suggestion separately and begin with a verb

 number the recommendations

 describe how the recommendations may be implemented (if you were

requested to do this)

 arrange the recommendations in an announced order, such as most

important to least important.

(Guffey, et al. 2001, p. 392)

Although the conclusions and recommendations are presented before the

discussion, they need to logically flow from the discussion. Taking a deductive

approach allows the reader insight into your conclusions/recommendations

early on. When your reader reads the discussion afterwards, they will follow it

more easily. Here are some examples of conclusions and recommendations:

Conclusions Recommendations

Home and family responsibilities directly

affect job attendance and performance.

Provide managers with training in working

with personal and family matters.

Time is the crucial issue to balancing

work and family income.

Institute a flexitime policy that allows

employees to adapt their work schedule

to home responsibilities.

A manager supportive of family and

personal concerns is central to a good

work environment.

Publish a quarterly employee newsletter

devoted to family and child-care issues.

(Adapted from Guffey, et al. 2001, p. 391-392)

8

2.7 Findings and discussion

The discussion is the main part of your report and should present and discuss

your findings. It should give enough information, analysis, and evidence to

support your conclusions, and it should provide justification for your

recommendations. Its organisation will depend on your purpose, scope, and

requirements, but it should follow a logical and systematic organisation. The

discussion should be subdivided into logical sections, each with informative,

descriptive headings and a number.

Where your report’s purpose is to recommend the best solution to a problem,

you should show clear analysis of all options. You should explain any

analytical framework you used, such as SWOT or cost benefit analysis. This

analysis of options can often be presented effectively in tables.

2.8 References

Whenever you use information from other sources, references must be

provided in-text and in a list of references. The style of referencing may be

dictated by your faculty or organisation. The Faculty of Commerce at Victoria

uses APA. See the Victoria Business School Writing Skills Workbook (that you

were given in first year in the FCOM 111 course) for information on APA

referencing or see the APA manual (APA, 2010). You can download a copy of

the Writing Skills Workbook from the VBS website.

2.9 Appendices

If material is important to your discussion and is directly referred to, then it

should be included in your discussion proper. However, you might want to use

appendices to include supplementary material that enhances understanding

for the reader. You might use appendices to provide details on the process or

analysis you underwent (or which was required by your supervisor or lecturer).

9

When you choose to include information in appendices, you should refer to it

clearly in your text (refer Appendix A). A single appendix should be titled

APPENDIX. Multiple appendices are titled APPENDIX A, APPENDIX B, etc.

Appendices appear in the order that they are mentioned in the text of the

report.

Appendices should:

 provide detailed explanation serving the needs of

specific readers

 be clearly and neatly set out

 be numbered/lettered

 be given a descriptive title

 be arranged in the order they are mentioned in the text

 be related to the report’s purpose—not just ‘tacked on’.

(Adapted from Emerson, 1995, p. 41)

A checklist of elements of a good business report is provided in Appendix A.

10

3 Writing your business report

Now that you have organised your thoughts, you need to put them into writing.

Ensure your writing demonstrates clarity and logic. You should think

constantly about your readers and make your report easy for them to read. To

achieve good readability, you should:

 use effective headings and subheadings

 structure your paragraphs well

 write clear sentences with plain language

 keep your writing professional

 use white space and well-chosen fonts

 number your pages

 use footnotes, tables, figures, and appendices appropriately.

3.1 Use effective headings and subheadings

Headings and subheadings are useful tools in business writing. Ensure they

are descriptive of the content to follow. In other words, rather than labelling a

section Section 2.5, it would be better to describe it as 2.5 Justification for

the high risk scenario. It is also essential that the hierarchy of headings and

subheadings is clear. Use formatting (font size, bold, etc.) to show headings

versus subheadings. Headings/subheadings at the same level should use

parallel form (the same grammatical construction). The following examples

illustrate this principle.

Ineffective headings with non-

parallel construction

Effective headings with parallel

construction

Establishing formal sales

organisation

Establish formal sales organisation

Production department

responsibilities

Define responsibilities within the

production department

Improve cost-accounting Improve cost accounting

(Adapted from Munter, 1997, p. 53)

11

Use sentence case for headings. This means that your first word should

have a capital letter, but subsequent words have small letters, unless, of

course, they are proper nouns (Write Limited, 2013). Remember to

ensure that all material placed underneath a heading serves that heading.

It is easy to go off on a tangent that does not relate to a heading.

Remember also that all content must relate to your purpose. Every time

you write a new section of your report, check that it fulfils the purpose of

the report.

3.2 Structure your paragraphs well

Your headings will help create logical flow for your reader, but under each

heading, you should create a series of paragraphs that are also logically

ordered and structured. Paragraphs should be ordered in a logical sequence

beginning with the most important material first. Within your paragraphs you

should also use a structure that helps your reader. Each paragraph should

begin with a topic sentence that states the main idea or topic of the

paragraph. Typically a paragraph will have between 100 and 200 words and

will have the following structure.

 Topic sentence (states main idea of paragraph)

 Explanation sentence (explains or expands on the topic sentence)

 Support sentences (give evidence for the idea in the topic sentence

and include statistics, examples, and citations)

 Concluding sentence (optional final sentence that answers the question

‘so what?’; this is your opportunity to show your critical thinking ability)

Remember to link your paragraphs well. The first sentence (usually the topic

sentence) is a good place to make a link between paragraphs. One of the

most common ways to link paragraphs is to use the principle, ‘something old,

something new’. This means you will include a word or phrase that contrasts

12

the topic of the previous paragraph with the topic of your new paragraph. Take

a look at the topic sentence at the beginning of this section 3.2. You will see

that this topic sentence links to the material before it. For an example showing

how to link ideas in a paragraph using the ‘something old, something new’

principle, see Appendix B.

3.3 Write clear sentences with plain language

Academic and business writing should be clear. You want to clearly

communicate your understanding of the topic and the strength of your

argument. In order to do this, keep your sentences short and use plain

language where you can (Write Limited, 2013). Sentences that are too long

and complicated are difficult to understand. A good average length is 15–20

words (roughly 1.5 lines). Try not to go over 2 lines. Sometimes students try to

use big words in order to sound academic. This is not always a good idea. If

you need a big (sometimes technical) word, fine. However, if a shorter one

does the job, use it. For example, use is better than utilise, and change is

better than modification.

Look at the following example.

Phase one of the project included the collection of a range of data and

research material completed during 2011, which was utilised in the creation of

a range of soon to be finalised analyst ‘personas’, and input into the planning

of a new enhanced information architecture for the business’s online channel,

particularly resources for current analysts.

Now look at a plainer version.

In 2011, the team undertook phase one of the project. They collected a range

of data and research material. Using this collected material, they created

analyst ‘personas’. They also began to plan an enhanced information

architecture for the business’s online channel. Current analysts can use some

of the resources the team have created.

13

You will notice some of the sophisticated words have changed to plainer ones.

You will also notice that the sentences are shorter and easier to understand.

Another change relates to ‘active voice’. You will notice that the first example

uses some ‘passive voice’: which was utilised. Passive voice enables writers

to omit the people (or doers) from their sentences. However, readers often

appreciate knowing ‘who’ does something. You will notice in the second

example, the writer adds a doer: team. This means the writer can now use the

active voice: In 2011, the team completed…All of these techniques—short

sentences, plainer language, and active voice—will help your reader

understand your message in one reading. This is especially important in

business writing where readers have busy working days.

3.4 Keep your writing professional

Ensure you use an appropriate tone for your readers. Where possible, use

personal pronouns we and you: We recommend you check the building’s

foundations. Personal pronouns create a friendly tone that is appropriate for

New Zealand business and government. They also help the writer avoid the

passive voice. And, as stated above, readers like to know ‘who’ will do

something. However, sometimes you might want a more formal tone where

personal pronouns are not appropriate. In these cases, you can use words

like research or report as your sentence subject: This report discusses…, This

research has found that… . Another way of ensuring appropriate tone is to

avoid terms that may be interpreted as offensive to ethnic or other groups. Be

careful to use gender-neutral terms. For example, use plural pronouns (they

when referring to clients) rather than gender-specific pronouns (he or he/she).

Another aspect of tone relates to the use of contractions. Contractions are

words like we’ve or it’s. They are informal. For many business reports and for

all academic reports, you will need to avoid them and write we have or it is.

Other important characteristics of professional writing are editing and

proofreading. You should leave 24 hours between writing your draft and

editing it. You should also leave another 24 hours between editing and

proofreading. Leaving time between these stages of the writing process allows

14

you to detach yourself from your writing and put yourself in your reader’s

shoes. When editing, check for:

 illogical structure

 missing headings

 irrelevant or missing content

 unnecessary content

 redundant phrases or words.

When proofreading, check for:

 grammar

 punctuation

 spelling

 formatting

 consistency.

Remember to leave enough time for these last two stages. Thorough editing

and proofreading will make a big difference to the readability of your report (as

well as to your marks!), and it is a courtesy to the reader.

3.5 Use white space and well-chosen fonts

White space refers to the empty space on the page. Business reports which

have a more balanced use of white space and text are easier to read and

more effectively communicate main points and subordinate ideas. Create

white space by:

 using lots of headings and subheadings

 creating large margins along all edges (usually 2.5–3cm)

 breaking up your page with tables, charts, and graphs where possible

 using bulleted lists.

15

3.6 Number your pages

Your title page has no number. Use Roman numerals for the executive

summary and table of contents (i, ii, iii), and Arabic numbers for the remainder

of the report (1, 2, 3 …).

3.7 Use footnotes, tables, figures, and appendices appropriately

Footnotes should be used sparingly. Points that are important can usually be

integrated into the text. Footnotes or endnotes should not be used for

referencing (see References above).

In business reports, tables and figures are often used to represent data,

processes, etc. Tables and figures should be inserted in the text of the

document, close to the discussion of the table/figure. If the information is

something which the reader could refer to rather than should refer to, then it

may go in the appendices. Tables and figures have different purposes. A table

contains an array of numbers or text (such as a SWOT table). A figure is

something that contains graphical content, such as graphs created in Excel,

organisational charts, or flow charts.

Insert each table/figure one-and-a-half or two lines below the text. The

table/figure should be identified with a label and title which describes the

content, for example, Table 1. GDP of New Zealand, 1988–2002.

If a table, figure, or appendix is included in a document, then there must be

text that refers to it! The text should refer to it by name (As Table 1

shows ….). The text should explain the highlights of the table or figure, not

every detail. Do not leave it to the reader to try to figure out why you included

the table or figure in your document. At the same time, ensure that your

tables/figures supplement and clarify the text but do not completely duplicate

it. Also ensure that there is sufficient information in the table or figure so that

the reader can understand it without having to consult the text.

16

Footnotes immediately underneath the table or figure should be used to

explain all abbreviations and symbols used. Do not forget to add the source of

your material.

17

4 Concluding remarks

Now that you have the tools to develop your report, your communication

should be more efficient and effective. Individual schools may have specific

requirements for your report, so check with your course coordinators in case

they have specific requirements. For example, the School of Marketing and

International Business provides the guide attached in Appendix C. A sample

report for general business writing is provided in Appendix D.

Don’t forget to make use of the resources at Student Learning should you

require more guidance. Happy writing!

18

References

APA. (2010). Publication manual of the American Psychological Association

(6th ed.). Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.

Emerson, L. (Ed.) (1995). Writing guidelines for business students.

Palmerston North: The Dunmore Press.

Guffey, M. E., Rhodes, K., & Rogin, P. (2001). Business communication:

Process and product (3rd Canadian ed.). Scarborough, Ontario: Nelson

Thomson Learning.

Munter, M. (1997). Guide to managerial communication: Effective business

writing and speaking (4th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.

Write Limited, (2013). The Write Style Guide for New Zealanders: A manual

for business editing. Wellington, New Zealand: Write Limited.

19

Appendix A: Checklist of a business report

 The report fulfils its purpose

 The report is oriented to the intended reader/s

 The report contains all appropriate elements (executive summary, table

of contents …)

 The discussion has descriptive and appropriately formatted headings

and subheadings

 The discussion contains thorough analysis of findings as well as logical

flow

 The report has been edited for section cohesiveness and good

paragraph structure

 The report has been proofread for sentence structure, spelling,

punctuation, and consistency

 Tables and figures are formatted correctly and labelled

 Tables, figures, and appendices are referred to within the text /

discussion

 Quotations from other sources are referenced

 Thoughts and ideas paraphrased from other sources are referenced

 The reference list is formatted properly

 The cover page has all necessary details

 Appendices are used to support the discussion, but tables / figures

which are essential to the discussion are included within the text

20

Appendix B: Linking …

November 29, 20XX

Mr. Reginald Carridge
Regional Manager, Region 620
Evening Shades, Inc.
14 Harbortown Court
Pittsfield, MD 21782

Dear Mr. Carridge:

Enclosed is the report “Improving Employee Performance through Training and Clear Memos,”
per your request following my proposal memo of earlier this month.

This report analyzes the in-office correspondence of Store #5820 and seeks to improve the
format. Additionally, training procedures are analyzed and suggestions are made to improve
the training process.

Thank you for your time in reading this report, and I hope the findings prove useful for your
decisions with regard to these matters in the future.

Sincerely,

Jonas Dawson
Assistant Manager, Store #5820

Improving Employee Performance through Training and Clear Memos

Submitted to Reginald Carridge
Regional Manager, Region 620

Evening Shades, Inc.

By

Jonas Dawson
Assistant Manager, Store #4719

November 29, 20XX

ii

TABLE OF CONTENTS

Table of Tables . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Executive Summary . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Introduction
Background . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Purpose . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Overview of Methodology . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Methods
Primary Research . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Secondary Research . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Results
Importance of Consistent Training .. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Survey of Current Employees . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Memo Analysis . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Creating a Memo Template . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Recommendations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
References . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Appendix A: Training Survey . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Appendix B: Work Template . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

iii
iv

1
1
1

2
2

3
3
4
6
7
8
9
10

iii

TABLE OF TABLES

Figure One: Responses to training survey. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4
Figure Two: Example memo . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5

iv

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

Recently at the Pittsfield Mall Outlets location of Evening Shades, the management has become
increasingly frustrated at its inability to motivate associates to perform the duties assigned to
them. After cycling through numerous associates, it is clear that some problem must exist that
is preventing new hires from understanding their duties enough to accomplish them.

A survey for our associates was designed and administered to determine what the causes of the
confusion could be. The results of this survey confirmed that a lack of consistent training was
one contributing cause. Currently, corporate permits twenty-four hours of training. However,
this region permits only nine of those twenty four hours because of payroll constraints.

Additionally, associates appeared frustrated and confused about tasks assigned to them. One
reason was found to be the lack of a common template available for managers to use when
assigning store tasks. As a result, managers are left to their own devices to compose documents
for assigning tasks and monitoring employee completion. The great variation in the documents
used by managers was found to cause confusion among employees. To rectify these issues, two
solutions are recommended:

 First, a consistent training regimen totaling the corporate-allotted twenty-four hours
should be implemented.

 Second, standard templates for in-store memoranda should implemented to improve
associate performance and reduce employee turnover.

1

Introduction

Background

Within the past year, Store #5810 of Region 620 of Evening Shades has hired and lost one
associate every three months. The allotted staffing for the store is only four associates, so the
processing of one associate every three months is significant in terms of lost sales and resources
spent on recruiting, onboarding and training. Additionally, because of the low number of
associates, losing one can cause large schedule gaps, often resulting in unplanned store closings
because of a lack of employee coverage. The lack of trained employees can also result in
unplanned overtime on the part of our management, which not only costs the company additional
payroll but is a considerable inconvenience to our full-time staff.

Additionally, new and under-trained employees often do not complete their assigned tasks
adequately or at all. Because we often work in a single coverage environment, when associates do
not complete their tasks, the next associate must complete the missed tasks on top of their own.
Depending on the tasks that need to be made up, this can be very frustrating for the next
associate or may even be beyond their abilities, leaving more responsibility for the manager.

Purpose

The purpose of this study was to determine the causes employee turnover. Analysis of associate
training and of communications between the management and associates led to the identification
of ways to improve training and communication, thus possbily improving associate performance,
reducing employee turnover, and increasing store profits.

Overview of Methodology
The following methods were used to analyze manager-to-associate communication.

 Conducted secondary research to determine the role and importance of standardized store
training in similar companies

 Surveyed current associates regarding their initial training and their knowledge of store
operations

 Collected and analyzed sample memorandums from managers

 Analyzed primary research data to determine ways to improve training of associates and
communication from managers

2

Methods

Primary Research

Primary research was performed at the Pittsfield Mall Outlets location of Region 620. Four of the
current associates were administered a uniform survey with 10 questions pertaining to training
and store operations. The results of these surveys were used to determine the uniformity of
training at this particular Evening Shades location.

Additional primary research was collected in the form of internal correspondence at Evening
Shades. This correspondence was analyzed to determine possible causes of miscommunication
and provide a springboard for a duty assignment template.

Secondary Research
Secondary research was collected from a variety of peer-reviewed and open source articles to
gauge the importance of uniform in-store training. Also, online publications as well as a
management communications textbook were used to analyze the current memo style and suggest
a template for the new style.

3

Results

Importance of Consistent Training

According to Owens (2006), training has always been a source of wide contention in business:
“Training . . . is laden with issues regarding its contribution to organizational value and employee
effectiveness” (p. 163). The less training provided translates directly to a lesser amount spent on
training payroll, meaning lower upfront costs. However, future costs of undertrained employees
can far outweigh the initial gains.

Owens (2006) sought to find what benefits training can have for employees in an organization
beside the tangible learning benefits. Owens discovered that “employees who receive training will
report higher levels of job satisfaction than those employees who do not receive training (p. 164).
Employees who are satisfied with their jobs are more likely to perform better than dissatisfied
employees. In tandem with job satisfaction, “Past research has alluded to the possibility that
training may affect quit rates” (Owens, p. 164). Employee turnover can become a significant cost
to the company, as not only must resources be devoted to finding an adequate replacement, but
additional resources must be applied to train the new hire and sales are potentially lost due to
inexperience. According to Sullivan (2007), “Studies indicate that the cumulative cost of losing a
current employee and then hiring and training a new team member to replace them is
approximately $6000 per employee” (p. 56).

In addition to perceivable costs, additional pressure is put on other employees and management
when turnover occurs (Cação, 2007, p. 24). If employees are not given enough training, managers’
ability to handle their own position in addition to the shortcomings of the staff can become
insurmountable: “Results cannot usually be achieved by any single manager just ‘doing it all
themselves’. Everyone needs to be good at his or her own job and preferably with a high degree of
self-sufficiency too” (Forsyth, 2006, p, 34).

Because at Evening Shades we often work single coverage in our locations, training becomes even
more important because we cannot always predict when we will need more coverage to meet
demand. Under-trained employees will not be ready for surprises like this. However, trained
employees will be “better prepared when [a surprise] comes, even if [they] don’t know exactly
what it will be” (Bayless, 2007, p. 214). Employees that work alone often feel insecure, as they are
in effect the manager on duty. This great responsibility can detrimentally affect sales if the
employee is not confident in his or her abilities. However, as Sullivan (2007) found, “. . . training
builds confidence. Confidence builds sales” (p. 18).

Survey of Current Employees
To illustrate the importance of uniform training, I composed a short test that was completed by
four associates in store #5820. The questions tested for product knowledge as well as store
operations. A copy of this survey is included at the end of this document in Appendix A. The figure
below shows each question and whether the answer was correct or incorrect for each associate.

4

Figure One: Responses to training survey

The results of this survey illustrate how varied knowledge of products and store operations can be.
These discrepancies also suggest lapses in training and how these lapses occur in different areas
for different associates. Based on this survey, nine hours does not seem enough to adequately
train an associate in the necessary details of store operations.

Memo Analysis

Frequently, tasks assigned to associates are not completed or are completed inadequately. As
stated earlier, these failures can become frustrating to the person running the next shift, who
must now complete the missed duties before completing his/her own. Figure 2 provides an
example note left by a manager to one of the associates. It illustrates how problematic written
communication can become.

Figure Two: Example manager note

5

Reviewing this note, numerous potential problems can be identified. Bell and Smith (1999)
address some common problems which this note seems to exemplify:

1. Not addressed to anybody for any particular time.
It is of no surprise that an Evening Shades associate may overlook this note. Not
only is the note not specified to a particular recipient; there is no indication of
when this note was written. Most people would assume this note was for someone
else and quickly forget they even it.

2. The Telegram Writer.
Note the incomplete nature of the bottom part of the note. Readers are left to
wonder what “it” is and what exactly should be processed.

3. The Scrawler.
Vacuum is misspelled. Thus, the credibility of the document is diminished, and
associates may be more inclined to skip the note and question whether the
manager really cared if the tasks needed to be accomplished in the first place.

Bell and Smith also suggest four questions to identify the completeness of a message:

1. What can be misinterpreted?
Unfortunately, virtually every part of this memo can be misinterpreted. Within the
store, there are multiple rooms that can be mopped, as well as multiple sets of
carpets. Additionally, there often can be multiple boxes waiting to be verified, and
there is no identification of a specific box within this memo.

2. What options does the message allow me?
The note forces the reader to choose which shipment is meant, thus opening up the
possibility of an incorrect shipment.

3. What response does the message seem to ask for?
This memo is simply a list of tasks. The writer makes a dramatic assumption that
the reader intuitively knows exactly what the writer is thinking, which is always
problematic in the work environment.

4. Does the message ask for that response in a specific way?
The memo does not ask for anything, although it should be asking the associate to
perform certain duties and to verify their completion.

By most standards, this memo fails communicate adequately to support business operations at
this Evening Shades location.

6

Creating a Memo Template

Since the current duty assignment memo is clearly unsatisfactory, a template must be created to
fix the problem. According to Nancy Mercurio (2005), “More information is always better [and]
when the purpose is clearly communicated in written documentation, the expectation is clear and
the employees will be more attentive” (p. 12). Using the suggestions from the InfoMap website, a
template (Appendix B) has been created for future memos intended to assign duties to associates.

Compared to the previous memo, the new memo format is much clearer in its intentions. The
name and the date appear prominently at the top, reducing confusion of who is supposed to
accomplish which task and when. The task headings are highlighted, guiding the reader’s eye to
the tasks. If the reader requires clarification on a particular task, there is a description area directly
beneath. Guiding the reader’s eye in this manner is the key to effective information mapping. As
readers in a fast-paced business, we are inclined to skim a document and tend to only retain
information that is highlighted or bolded. The above document adheres to these precepts, as
suggested by the principles of info mapping (InfoMapping, 2007).

Using the questions which Bell and Smith present, one can see the distinct difference between the
original memo and the new template:

1. What can be misinterpreted?
The memo is clearly written to a particular person for a particular date, and
descriptions of each task are provided. Thus, the possibility of misinterpretation is
greatly reduced.

2. What options does the message allow me?
Options have been reduced to carrying out the task assigned and described.

3. What response does the message seem to ask for?
This memo is asking for certain tasks to be completed, and it does so in a succinct
and clear manner.

4. Does the message ask for that response in a specific way?
The memo itemizes each task clearly with a description beneath and a checkbox to
be used.

7

Recommendations
From the research performed, it is apparent that the store should strongly consider using the total
twenty-four hours of allotted training payroll instead of nine. The additional training will likely
bolster associate confidence, leading to better sales as well as increasing job satisfaction and
reducing turnover. As the research predicts, the cost of the additional fifteen hours will be
outweighed by benefits to the store’s overall business and profit margin.

With respect to associates not performing their duties, it is clear that a revised assignment memo
is a necessary first step toward resolving this issue. Previous manager memos were ambiguous
and contained little explanation as to who the note was for or when the assignments were
supposed to be completed. The new memo template provides space for each of these important
elements, as well as space for the major tasks and descriptions if the reader requires them.

Training payroll should immediately be increased to a total of twenty-four hours region wide.
Because this amount is allotted by corporate, no special permission will be required from the
Regional Vice President. Also, the template for the assignment memo should be distributed via
email to all Evening Shades locations in Region 620.

8

References

Bayless, M. (2007). Five steps to running a successful shift. Gourmet Retailer, 28(8), 214-215.

Retrieved from http://www.gourmetretailer.com

Bell, A. H. & Smith, D. M. (1999) Management communication (2nd ed.). New York: Wiley.

Cação, R. (2007). Maturity in large scale corporate learning. International Journal of Advanced

Corporate Learning. 7(3), 24-28. doi: 10.3991/ijac.v7i3.4005.

Forsyth, P. (2006). All wings and no feet. Engineering Management, 16(2), 34-35. doi:

11.1835/0265.43.4.500

Information mapping (2007). Retrieved November 9, 2007 from http://www.infomap.com/.

Mercurio, N. (2005). Managing employee expectations: The simple truth. Canadian Manager,

30(2), 12-13. Retrieved from http://cim.ca

Owens Jr., P. (2006). One more reason not to cut your training budget: The relationship between

training and organizational outcomes. Public Personnel Management. 35(2), 163-172. doi:

10. 2772639.ppm

Sullivan, J. (2007). “Penny-wise” strategies for hiring, training and retaining staff lead to same-

store sales gains. Nation’s Restaurant News, 41(36), 18-56. Retrieved from http://nrn.com

9

Appendix A: Training Survey

1) Is Bolle a Luxottica brand?

a. Yes

b. No

2) What is CR39?

a. An alloy in Oakley frames

b. A type of lens similar to polycarbonate

c. Scratch-resistant compound

3) How long do customers have to EXCHANGE glasses?

a. 30 days

b. One Year

c. Indefinitely

4) How long is the in-store warranty for watches?

a. 30 days

b. One Year

c. No in-store warranty

5) Which of these Oakley sunglasses do NOT have interchangeable lenses?

a. Radar Pitch

b. Half Jacket

c. Flak Jacket

d. Straight Jacket

6) Which of these brands are NOT eligible for the $20 discount coupon?

a. Maui Jim

b. Revo

c. Rayban

d. Arnette

7) How many times can a customer use the Evening Shades Replacement Discount?

a. Once

b. Unlimited times within the replacement period

c. As many times as they wish

8) Which of these is NOT a feature of Maui Jim sunglasses?

a. Polarized

b. Photochromatic

c. 100% UV Protectant

d. Bi-Gradient Tinting

9) Which of these is NOT a feature of titanium frames?

a. Flexible and have a memory

b. Hypo-allergenic

c. Lightweight

d. Malleable

10) Which of the following brands receive a full year warranty directly through us?

a. Bolle

b. Rayban

c. Chanel

d. Serengeti

10

ASSIGNMENTS FOR _________________ ON __________________
NAME DATE

 TASK ONE __________________________

Description: _____________________________________________________________________________

___________________________________________________________
___________________________________________________________

 TASK TWO __________________________

Description: _____________________________________________________________________________

___________________________________________________________
___________________________________________________________

 TASK THREE __________________________

Description: _____________________________________________________________________________

___________________________________________________________
___________________________________________________________

 TASK FOUR __________________________

Description: _____________________________________________________________________________

___________________________________________________________
___________________________________________________________

ASSIGNED BY _________________ ON __________________
NAME DATE

Appendix B: Work Template

1. Examine the executive summary. Please re-write the executive summary using the
example from the Victoria Business School from week 3. In other words, read over the
executive summary from the report in the document from the Victoria Business School.
Then rewrite the executive summary for the “Evening Shades” report in similar fashion to
that of the Victoria Business School report.

EXUCUTIVE SUMMARY

Purpose and method of this report

At the mall outlet in Evening Shades, there has been frustration in the department to encourage
associates to perform the job awarded to them. The management has come to realization that
many of the new associates are not understanding how to perform their tasks and is aware that a
problem must exist for this to happen. The purposes of this report are to:

 Identify the problem that the associates are finding difficult with the daily tasks at the
mall outlet in Evening Shades

 Find solutions to what can help the associates perform their duties to accomplish them.

A survey conducted to identify the problem with workers from performing their tasks shows the
frustration and confusion of lack of proper template documentation to assign an active
scheduling task for the associates.

Findings and Conclusion

The survey concluded that most of the new associates could not perform their tasks because they
did not undergo proper training. A lack of continues training was one of the issues discovered by
the management. The corporate states that new trainees must have twenty-four hours of training,
however, only nine of those hours are permitted in that region because of issues with payroll
constraints. Another reason why the associates could not perform their tasks is because they were
confused about the tasks assigned to them. In the survey the associates mentioned that managers
did not use a common template to assign tasks to them. The associates became frustrated at not
knowing what to do, which cause a decline in their management.

The results of this study show that the managers at Evening Shades need to conduct proper
training and assignments of duties for their employees to avoid confusion of their tasks.

Recommendations for conducting management at Evening Shades

Two solutions are recommended for conducting better management at Evening Shades:

 All new employees must complete a consistent training of twenty-four hours as the
corporate stated.

 Managers should use standard templates to make the tasks simple to perform and to
reduce the amount of frustration and confusion among the employees.

This study source was downloaded by 100000756351341 from CourseHero.com on 02-10-2022 08:35:16 GMT -06:00

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2. Look at the sources listed. How could the sources be improved upon? You can write one
or two sentences in answering this question.

The sources can be improved in the primary sources. The management should conduct more
survey from other location of the store to determine the aspect of the evening shade 620 location
need to improve upon.

Also the managers that construct the schedule, should undergo evaluation and trained on how to
properly manage to create a template to make scheduling easy and understandable to associates.

This study source was downloaded by 100000756351341 from CourseHero.com on 02-10-2022 08:35:16 GMT -06:00

https://www.coursehero.com/file/59087335/Evening-Shadesdocx/
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