WRTG 293 students,
Your next assignment will be a memo to an employee. This assignment continues on our potential negative message theme. However, it involves communicating with a part-time employee.
The situation you are responding to is described below:
You are the manager at Athlete’s Foot Shoe Store. Your store specializes in athletic shoes.
Your customers typically are runners, basketball enthusiasts, tennis players, golfers, or others
who are active and need quality footwear. Your prices are a bit high. But you have product
knowledge. Customers who want information on a specific type of shoe can come to your store
and get it. You have information on the product line that discount retailers do not have. While
your prices are high, customers pay for knowledge and service.
You have no full-time staff. You hire only part-time employees. Most of them are high school
or college students.
You hired Jim Johnson eight months ago. Jim is a sophomore in college. He works for you
two evenings a week and on Saturdays. He puts in 20-25 hours per week.
Jim has extensive knowledge of athletic shoes. He runs regularly. He is very familiar with what
makes a good running shoe, why basketball shoes would not be good for running, why certain
tennis shoes are more durable than others, etc. He regularly reads Running Times magazine.
Overall, Jim’s technical knowledge of athletic shoes is unsurpassed by any of your other
employees. He knows more than you do, you suspect, about athletic shoes.
However, this situation presents a problem. Jim is so knowledgeable about athletic shoes that
his skills actually deter his ability to sell shoes.
First, he talks too much with the customers about specific shoes. Often, customers get bored
with him and find an excuse to leave the store after hearing him talk on and on about technical
details they may not be interested in.
Second, related to the problem mentioned above, sometimes potential customers listen to his
facts about the shoe, and then they go off and purchase it at another store, often for a cheaper
price. In short, many of them get their product knowledge from Jim and then buy the shoe
Third, when he does make a sale, he spends so much time with the customer that other
employees have often made three four four sales in the time it takes him to make one sale. He is
not efficient when he makes a sale.
Fourth, when the store gets busy, Jim is not helpful because of his focused work ethic and his
loquacious verbal style.
When 20 or so potential customers are in the store, the employees need to “fill in” for each other.
For example, if an employee is going to the back of the store to get a particular shoe for a
customer, another employee might ask that employee to get a shoe for his or her potential
customer as well. Or if an employee is ringing up a customer for a sale, that employee might
ring up another customer as well, even if the sale was coordinated by a different employee.
Overall, the workforce at Athlete’s Foot is a team. They help each other out.
But Jim is not a team player. He seems oblivious to situations like helping retrieve a shoe or
helping ring a customer up. He is focused on the customers he is helping, and he seems unable
to see the big picture when the store is busy and teamwork is necessary for a smooth operation.
On this fourth issue, other employees have expressed frustration with Jim. They talk about him
behind his back occasionally. You have heard their disparaging talk on occasion.
However, Jim is a valuable member of your staff. Some customers swear by him and ask for
him by name when coming into the store. His product knowledge of shoes is quite amazing.
You don’t want to lose him. He has helped customers purchase some high-priced shoes—
purchases that you are convinced no other employee would have been able to complete. If a
customer needs technical help in being persuaded to buy a pair of shoes, Jim can provide that
You need to write a memo to Jim about his performance. You want to express your concern
about the issues mentioned above. But you don’t want to discourage him. You want him to
continue with the strengths he has shown on the job.
Overall, you don’t want to lose him. However, you do realize that some dynamics of his work
patterns should change.
The goal of your memo is to set up a face-to-face meeting with Jim to discuss your concerns.
You realize that the memo is not going to result in his change in performance. The memo is
designed to outline the problems, outline his strengths, and then set up a meeting with him to
discuss future actions.