Sample Assessment: Memo in Action

Professional memos are best used for identifying problems and solving problems in the workplace.  They choose their audience groups very carefully--they should be addressed only to those people in the office who are directly related to causing or fixing the problem (or both).

Since no one likes being accused of causing a problem, but everyone appreciates being recognized for their value in fixing a problem, having a professional, neutral, courteous tone in a memo is vital.

In this task, I'd like you to think about a problem you've encountered in your work experience, preferably a small problem that is relatively easy to resolve.  If you haven't held a professional position recently, or nothing appropriate comes to mind, you could use a problem in your family or social life, instead.

Write a memo addressed to the relevant parties involved in this problem.  Your memo will contain the following components:

1. a header --  to/ from/ date/ subject lines at the top

To: Marlene Smith, office manager

From: Alexis McMillan-Clifton, personal assistant

Date: April 25, 2013

Subject: Implementation of a paper recycling plan

2. an opening segment -- a brief paragraph describing the purpose of the memo.  This establishes the problem and relevant history or context of the problem.

I would like to recommend that our office establish a policy for the recycling of paper materials.  This will lead to less waste and more attractive working conditions for us all.

3. a task segment -- a brief paragraph that describes what is being done (or will be done soon) to solve the problem.  Identify who will be responsible for what role in the resolution.

Currently, there are eight trash cans in our office: one in the breakroom, one next to each staff member's desk, and one in each bathroom.  I propose that we add a can of the same size next to each existing trash can, labeled for paper recycling.  The cleaning staff will be informed of this change and will know to dump these cans in the existing paper recycling dumpster outside the office building.

4. a discussion segment -- a longer paragraph that describes the supporting information to the problem and its resolution.  Start in general terms and move towards specificity.  This is the part that "sells" your idea to the audience reading it.

Some will see the separation of paper recycling materials as an added difficulty, initially.  Our office uses a lot of paper materials, however, and disposing of paper in a different can will quickly become a habit, especially if the recycling receptacles are conveniently located.  This will result in a lower trash bill each month, since the city pays a small stipend for the value of recycling materials we collect, as well as having less weight and volume of trash we have to pay to haul out.  We will have a small outlay of cost initially in the extra cans, but they should pay for themselves by the end of the year.  It would seem wise to have these new cans be a different color, such as blue or green, so that they are visually distinct from the existing cans.  That way we will not accidentally dispose of trash in the recycling containers, or vice versa.

5. a closing segment -- a very brief paragraph that reiterates what action should be taken by the reader(s), and what the benefits of that action will be to the reader(s).

In closing, if you approve this recycling program, I will order the new recycling cans and place them around the office.  At that time, I will distribute another memo to the entire staff informing of the new policy and their responsibilities.  This will result in a cleaner, more environmentally-friendly office space for us all.


Grading Rubric

 Category Pts Possible
Contains all components of assignments of appropriate length. Includes accurate heading with to/from/date/subject clearly stated.
May be missing 1 or 2 components, or have components of inappropriate length. Includes heading with some small inaccuracies.
Is missing 2 or more components, or most components have inappropriate length to their purpose. May be missing some or all of heading.
6 pts
Problem is explained with suitable level of detail. Resolution included, with clear responsibilities assigned. Context and history of the problem are given as needed.
Problem and resolution established, but it may not be clear who is responsible for some or all of the issue. Some further detail may be needed, or contains too much information to be appropriate to the memo format.
May be missing either the problem or resolution. Unclear who is responsible for the issue or its resolution.
8 pts
Grammar & Proofreading
Displays proper usage of formal, grammatical English. Shows evidence of careful proofreading.
Displays functional use of formal, grammatical English. Shows evidence of proofreading, though some lapses may be evident.
Little to no sentence variety. Frequently inappropriate vocabulary. Little evidence of proofreading; errors impede meaning.
6 pts

Sample Submission

to:                 all Students, HIM 110

from:           J. D.

subject:       Dedicated Study epochs

date:            April 24, 2013

cc:                 Alexis McMillan-Clifton, Jonathan D. Eastabrooks

Hours of study per day

In an effort to bestow, the grade of A to all HIM 110 Students the following mandate is established. Effective immediately, all students will devote Twenty-Three hours out of a Twenty-Four hour day to study.

Currently the majority of students are doing well. However, this is not good enough. Perfection should be our goal, specifically, a 4.0.

To ensure the proper amount of time is devoted in attaining our goal, all study sessions shall be monitored via a web cam. An additional positive of this observation is Students will be able to add this to their resume. This will come in particularly handy when applying for a part in any reality TV show, such as Here Comes Honey Boo Boo. Scientific research was viewed; however, the majority of the research viewed played no part in the development of this mandate due to its scientific (confusing) nature. Regardless, a sleep deprivation study was carefully and briefly considered and just as quickly dismissed.

In summation, I am sure this innovative, untested, and completely bizarre method has your unquestioning support. Finally, your suggestions or recommendations will not be considered, due to time constrains. After all, you only have one hour of free time. This time should be utilized for sleeping, eating, and personal hygiene, such as pedicures. Please forward questions to the local Community Mental Health facility.


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