Overview – Memos
A memo, or memorandum, is information that records a leader’s observations about a specific issue. It aims to promote understanding of that issue and may include recommendations or requests for follow-up action. Memos usually emanate from the offices of senior leadership to be cascaded down through the hierarchy on an ‘as-needed’ basis.
They are effective for imparting factual information, documenting changes, providing a formal record of discussions, or mandating requirements or expectations. Memos are produced in hard-copy format for distribution via internal mail or in a soft-copy format for distribution by email.
This tactic is useful for:
✓ Downward or horizontal communications.
✓ Providing clarity and direction about an issue(s).
✓ Documenting changes.
✓ Mandating requirements or calls to action.
✓ Allaying rumours.
✓ Announcing a new initiative, major milestone or significant achievement.
Things to consider:
⇒ Provide a memo template to ensure a standardised format is used across the organisation.
⇒ Publish a style guide for recommended language style and usage.
⇒ State the purpose of your memo and key message, provide background information, explain your rationale and define next steps.
⇒ Limit memo messages to no more than three key points.
⇒ Make memos easy to read by limiting the content to one page.
⇒ Use sub-headings to keep the layout open with plenty of white space to make it easy on the eye.
⇒ Use conversational language. Minimise the use of jargon, acronyms and technical terms.
⇒ Keep sentences short. Avoid stringing lots of nouns together.
⇒ Use the active voice to convey clear intent and direct information. Use verbs to increase message potency and impart a sense of urgency.
⇒ Establish unambiguous expectations for any actions to be taken, including specification of deadlines and budgets.
Memos are often cascaded down the organisational hierarchy to ensure more senior levels receive the information first. In such circumstances, ensure there are no blockages preventing the memo reaching lower levels. Check this by undertaking a quick survey of a random sample of employees at various hierarchical levels.