Background: This is the third time in two months that your company, Metro Power, has had to escort an employee from the building after a violent episode. Frankly, everyone is a little frightened by this development. As a human resources administrator, you have the unhappy task of trying to quell the storm.

Metro Power rarely fires employees, preferring to transfer them to new responsibilities, which may either draw out their finer points (and prove better for everyone in the long run) or help them decide to seek greener pastures. But in three cases, you had no choice. In one incident, a man punched out his computer screen after the system failed. In another, a man threw his keyboard across the room when he couldn’t get access to the company’s intranet. And in a third incident, a woman kicked a printer while screaming obscenities.

In all three cases, co-workers were terrified by these sudden outbursts. Too many disgruntled workers have committed too many violent acts recently. Aside from the fear it creates, it causes destruction of property and disruption of workflow.

People are on edge at Metro Power right now. Rising energy costs, public and government scrutiny, and cries of price gouging are causing additional work and stress for all your employees. Plus, too much overtime, unrealistic expectations for overworked departments, and high demands on sensitive equipment are contributing to the problem. Tempers are frayed and nerves are strained. You’re concerned that these three incidents are just the tip of the iceberg.

Your department head suggests that you write a reminder to all employees about controlling tempers in the workplace. She said, “Tell them that technology glitches are commonplace and not some unholy disaster. And remind them to report routine computer failures to Bart Stone, the IT director.” When you remind her that IT’s slow turnaround time is part of the problem, she retorts, “He’ll get to them in due course. And, above all, warn them that abusive behavior will be severely reprimanded.”

You say nothing to contradict her idea, but you know that if you do what she asks, you’ll sound like a tyrant and make people angry. Neither do you want to sound like some nagging parent, in which case no one will pay attention to your message. You sigh deeply as your boss strolls calmly back to her office.

You know that if you tell them to report computer failures to Bart Stone, you’ll just be rubbing salt in the wound. But you might remind them, though, that machines, like humans, are not infallible. Plus, you can think of a few preventive maintenance suggestions, such as turning off the computers after work and keeping food and drinks away from them. You might also recommend cooling off measures like getting some fresh outside air or taking several deep breaths. Before you advise them to do anything, though, you should show empathy for their stressful working conditions. You also must find a tactful way to deliver the boss’s ultimatum, which you’ll place towards the end of your message.

Task 1:Write the email message using the approach summarized above.

Design:Facsimile of an email (open file: “Design for Temper, Temper Email”

  • Single line spacing
  • Block format (rag right)
  • Reader friendly


  • Indirect approach
    • Paragraphs average 3-5 sentences and logically flow
    • Two bulleted lists in the middle
      • Follow Canavor’s guidelines for bulleted lists


  • 300-350 words
  • First paragraph gives occasion for writing.
  • Second paragraph expresses empathy while registering concern for the damages.
  • Two bulleted lists
    • Preventive maintenance measures
    • Cooling-off measures
  • Final paragraph delivers ultimatum
  • End on a positive note


  • Do’s and don’ts
    • Don’t: “Dear Metro Employees”
    • Do: “Dear Metro Staff” or “Dear Metro Team”
    • Don’t: “I’m writing you because . . . .”
    • Do: “As you know, there have been . . . .”
  • Clear and concise
  • Sentences: 14-18 words
  • Do not quote from the prompt.
  • Adopt a respectful tone.
  • Write error-Free grammar.

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